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In general, you can plant blueberries as soon as the ground is easily workable. Traditionally, blueberries are grown in regions that have cold winters and warm summers, as most varieties need a specific period of chilling each year to produce fruit. Apply a 4- to 6-inch deep layer of organic mulch around the base of the blueberries. For instance, if you have a three-year-old plant, leave two one-year-old branches, two two-year-old branches and two three-year-old branches intact for future growth. Keeping your blueberries healthy throughout the winter will give you more berries in the summer harvest season. The best approach to winter care is to complete fertilizing tasks in late summer to allow the plants to go dormant in the fall. Highbush varieties of blueberries will survive temperatures down to -20 degrees F, according to North Dakota State University. It is important to figure out what level of cold your brambles can tolerate in order to know when you need to think about winterizing blackberries. However, planting time does vary according to climate. Pruning the plant in the winter when it enters dormancy improves your harvests and the plant's … Your job is to either insulate the roots for the winter or move the entire plant to a protected location. If flowers are damaged, however, the plant will not go on to produce fruit on the areas that were damaged. Q. I planted three blueberry bushes in large containers in my back yard. The Clemson Cooperative Extension suggests planting in late winter for those who live in the Southeast. Wear gardening gloves to prevent scratching your hands as you sort through the old growth to choose the branches best for pruning off. Blueberries can even be grown in containers. Winter and early spring, when blueberry bushes are in their dormancy period, is the best time to plant new bushes. Cut these tiny branches down to the spot where the branch begins to narrow. Cut any dead, diseased and decaying branches from the blueberry bush in January or February. Frost tender blackberry varieties can survive temperatures that dip from 0 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit (-17 to -12 degrees C.), but hardy cultivars survive temperatures down to -10 degrees F. (-23 C.). As the weather warms, new growth will appear to replaced the damaged growth. Apply a 4- to 6-inch deep layer of organic mulch around the base of the blueberries. Raised beds usually work well. Prune blueberries in late winter and early spring. Early summer is optimal. They will not grow or produce fruit if the pH level of your soil is above 5.5. Location is just as important as timing when it comes to planting blueberries. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach: Growing Blueberries in the Home Garden, University of Minnesota Extension: Blueberries for Home Landscapes, North Dakota State University Extension: Questions on Blueberry, When to Plant a Dormant Bareroot Blueberry. Although they will grow in partial shade, the plants perform better in full sunlight. They also need a location that drains well. Generally, winter damage of blueberry plants occurs when temps are below 25 degrees F. (-3 C.), but this is in correlation with the relative dew point as well as the amount of wind. Winter does not kill off blueberry plants as it does other plants. Prune off any branches thinner than a pencil. If the plants are left to sit in overly wet soil, they might even develop root rot and eventually die. Choose organic mulches such as leaf compost or straw to provide insulation for the plant and to prevent cold damage and excessive drying of the soil. After harvesting freshly picked blueberries all summer, it’s time to put your plants to bed for the winter. Winter does not kill off blueberry plants as it does other plants. Identify these oldest canes by their peeling, gray bark. Keep the blueberry plant well watered throughout the winter so the soil feels damp to the touch, recommends North Carolina State University; damp soil holds warmth better than dry soil. In mild climates, winter care starts with selecting a variety developed to thrive in mild winters and hot summers. Highbush varieties of blueberries will survive temperatures down to -20 degrees F, according to North Dakota State University. © Copyright 2020 Hearst Communications, Inc. Traditionally, blueberries are grown in regions that have cold winters and warm summers, as most varieties need a specific period of chilling each year to produce fruit. What Time of the Year Can You Pick Blueberries? Blueberries can easily survive periods of frost, but they do need a frost-free period of about 140 days in order to produce maximum fruit. Newly planted bushes often suffer from moisture stress, according to Cornell University. The Clemson Cooperative Extension even suggests choosing another site if the pH is above 6.0. If it is well above 5.0-5.5, you will need to amend the soil to make it more acidic. Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map! Native to North America, the plants are cold-hardy and thrive in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 to 8, depending on the species and cultivar. Southern Highbush (Vaccinium darrowi) tolerates the hot summers. Besides needing well-draining soil and plenty of sunlight, blueberries need acidic soil. Blueberries should be planted in the spring, according to Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. Late winter -- and even early spring -- blueberry bush plantings run the risk of being damaged by late freezes. Copyright Leaf Group Ltd. // Leaf Group Lifestyle. Luckily, many berry bushes are cold-hardy and in fact need a certain amount of chill hours to set fruit in the spring. Studies show that container-grown blueberry roots are nearly as cold as the outside temperatures, and though many varieties are hardy to minus-20 degrees and beyond, that’s when only the shoot system is exposed, not the roots. It doesn't matter when you plant your blueberries if your soil is not acidic enough. For these reasons, avoid planting blueberries in a depression or in any other area where water might collect. Before planting, test the soil to determine the pH level. You can remove any branches that are not producing well and spindly, weak growth. In mild climates, winter care starts with selecting a variety developed to thrive in mild winters and hot summers. Leave behind six to 12 canes with pairs of branches of the same age, as indicated by their diameter. In most cases, blueberries are not seriously damaged by frost. It's best to plant bare root shrubs as soon as possible. Blueberries (Vaccinium spp.) If this happens, prune off the damaged parts of the plant. Trim any old canes which do not produce berries back to the ground. For this reason, if you live in a climate that is prone to late frosts, choose a cultivar that blooms later in the spring. Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →, Canadian blueberry image by Milan Kincl from, North Dakota State University: Questions on Blueberries, Oregon State University: Growing Blueberries in Your Home Garden, North Carolina State University: Blueberry Freeze Damage and Protection Measures, University of California: Growing Berries in Your Backyard, Santa Clara Master Gardeners: Growing Blueberries in Santa Clara County, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs: Blueberries for Home Garden. Pruning the plant in the winter when it enters dormancy improves your harvests and the plant's growth for the rest of the year, but Oregon University recommends waiting until the third year of growth to prune. Usually, sulfur is added to soil to increase acidity, and it takes a minimum of two months of warm weather for the sulfur to take effect. In your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map tender new spring growth,,! 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