How To Germinate Blueberry Seeds?
The first thing you need to know is that it takes time to germinate blueberry seedlings. You have to wait until they are at least 3 weeks old before you can start planting them into the ground. However, if you take care of your plants properly, then after a few days or even hours, they will sprout and begin growing within minutes!
What Is A Blueberry Seed?
A blueberry seed is actually a small round object with a very thin skin. They are usually around 1/4 inch long and ¼ inch wide. The seeds are covered with tiny hairs which keep them alive. When the plant receives light, these hairs turn brown and dry up making them easy to break open when needed. After being broken open, the seeds fall out and float down to the soil where they germinate.
How Do I Get A Blueberry Seedling To Grow?
You can’t just throw away any old blueberry seed because it won’t work. If you want to make sure that your blueberry seedlings will grow well, you have to give them some special attention. There are several things that you can do so that they will thrive in their new home.
The first thing you can do is put the seeds in water right away. After doing so, leave them alone for at least 24 hours to let them soak up some moisture.
Then you need to plant them into a pot filled with loose soil within two days after removing them from the fruit. You will also need to stick them about 1/4 inch deep into the dirt. Be sure to leave at least 3 inches between each seedling when you plant them.
After you have planted all the seeds, you will need to put them in a warm place. The next thing that you need to do is be sure to water them regularly until they start to sprout.
As soon as you see green leaves coming out of the ground, you can move your plants into partial light. Finally, when they are big enough to be handled, you can plant them outside in your garden. Now you will be able to enjoy fresh blueberries whenever you want!
What Do Blueberry Seeds Look Like?
The blueberry seed is very small and resembles a raw sunflower seed. It is about 1/4 inch long and about the same width. The outside of the seed has a thin, wrinkled coat with tiny hairs growing on it. These hairs keep the seeds moist until they are ready to sprout by absorbing moisture from the soil or other location that they are in.
When do Blueberry Bushes Produce?
Blueberry bushes start to produce fruit about 3-5 years after they are planted. The first 2 years will see a lot of new growth and little or no berries. During the third season, you will probably start to see some berries that turn red during the late summer. The bushes will continue to produce more and more berries each year until they reach their peak of production after 8-10 years.
After this time, you will probably notice a decrease in the number of fruits that the plant produces each year. This is completely normal and you shouldn’t worry about it.
Even after 20-25 years, many bushes will still produce a few ripe berries every year. Just be sure to thin out the weak and dead branches each year to keep your bush healthy and growing strong.
Learn all about strawberry plants here!
What Do Growing Blueberries Look Like?
Blueberry bushes are very easy to grow and are hardy in most climates. They will grow in most soil types but prefer sandy or loamy soils. The plants themselves can reach a height of 5-8 feet and will usually spread out about 4-5 feet wide. They have slender, green stems that become thicker as they get closer to the ground. The stems are usually covered with thorns 1/4 inch long. The leaves are light green and usually covered with fine, downy hair. The leaves are 1-3 inches long and are egg shaped with the larger end toward the stem. They tend to grow in clusters off of the branches.
The flowers grow in clusters called corymbs and appear during the spring before the leaves. They are white, pink or red and have a sweet smell.
The fruit starts out green and ripens to a deep purple or blue color. It is round and about 1/2 inch in diameter. There is a layer of flesh around the seed that is eaten and a inner seed coat that is not.
How to Pick Blueberries (Without Getting Pricked!)
Picking blueberries is a fun activity for the whole family, but it can also be a pain if you get poked by the thorns on the stem. To avoid this, simply wear a pair of light leather gloves while you pick.
The thorns will go through the gloves but not your hands.
You can also pick the berries off of the top half of the bush and then have someone else pick the lower branches that you can’t reach. This isn’t really a good use of your time though so pick off the lower branches before you plant your bush to save yourself some hassle later!
Now that you know all about blueberry plants, you need to know how to grow them.
You Will Need:
A watering can or hose
A large container or bucket (to mix the soil in)
Sifted compost or manure (optional)
3 Blueberry bushes (1gallon size)
Step 1: Choose Your Location Carefully!
Blueberries do best in sandy soils but will still grow in most types. They do not tolerate wet, poorly drained or rocky soils.
Pick a location that meets most of the following requirements:
Well Drained – Does the soil dry out within a few days of a heavy rain?
If not, your bush won’t produce well.
Organic Matter – Does the soil contain plenty of decayed leaves, grass or other plant material?
If not, add some or your bush won’t produce well.
Sandy Loam – Is the soil mainly sand or sand mixed with some clay?
If not, add some well decomposed manure or compost as your soil will probably be too heavy.
Sunny – Does the area receive full sun most of the day?
If not, the bush probably won’t produce well.
Step 2: Prepare the Planting Area
The best place to plant your blueberry bush is in a hole that is about a foot deep and wide. This will allow you plenty of room to dig around the bush and keep the soil loose and well aerated for roots to grow.
Dig a hole about 12 inches across and deep.
Add some organic matter to the hole, such as weed free compost or well rotted manure. If your soil is lacking in organic material, add some greensand or soil conditioner as well.
One part greensand and 3 parts soil is a good mix.
The hole should be layered with an inch of organic material and then thoroughly moistened before adding the next layer
Fill in the rest of the hole with the prepared soil and firm it down firmly. This will make a nice hole for your bush.
Step 3: Prepare the Blueberry Bush
The bush should be watered well so that the roots are nice and wet. This helps to prevent them from drying out while you’re planting.
It also makes it much easier to remove from its pot.
Grab the top of the root ball and rock it back and forth to loosen up the soil.
Holding the ball in one hand, cut the roots off where they extend past the sides of the pot. This prevents the plant from putting out a multitude of new roots that will wind up becoming weeds in your garden.
It also helps to reduce the size of the root system so it will fit into your planting hole
Add water as needed to keep the root ball nice and juicy (but not muddy!
Step 4: Planting Your Blueberry Bush
Dig out enough soil from the hole to create a slight depression in the center that is about as deep as the root ball but no deeper.
Carefully remove the blueberry bush from its container and place it in the hole. Firm the soil around it and water it in.
This helps to minimize the air pockets that form around the roots.
Step 5: After Planting Your Blueberry Bush
Encircle the base of the bush with a narrow ridge of soil about 1 foot out from the main root system. This will act as a barrier to restrict the spread of the bush’s roots into nearby soils and help them to grow straight down.
Water the plant well and keep it watered consistently for the first month after planting. Check to make sure it has plenty of water during dry spells.
Top dress the area around the bush with a couple of inches of mulch. This helps to conserve moisture, keep the soil cool and prevent weed growth.
We recommend using wood shavings or finely ground bark.
In the fall, spread a layer of grass clippings, leaves or straw around the plant to keep the weeds down in the spring and keep the moisture in the soil.
Step 6: Caring For Your Blueberry Bush
Once the bush is planted, it will require very little care other than annual maintenance and yearly pruning. The biggest key to success is to never allow the bush to have insufficient water, especially in dry or hot weather.
Apply a layer of mulch to the area immediately around the plant to prevent weeds from growing as well as keeping the soil cool and moist.
Cutting back the bushes using tip pruning or thinning can be done anytime after they are three years old. This should be done in late winter or early spring before new growth begins, but after the risk of a late frost has passed.
Once every 10 years, it may be necessary to replant the bush in a new hole. This is done whenever the plant gets too large for its current planting hole and begins to suffer damage because of it.
Step 7: Harvesting Your Blueberries
It will take between 3 and 5 years before your bush is big enough to produce an appreciable amount of fruit. The berries will not be ripe enough to pick when they turn from green to blue.
For maximum sweetness, allow the ripe berries to remain on the bush until they begin to fall off on their own. This will take place when the center of the berry has turned a lighter shade of blue.
Be sure to not over-pick your bush, 3 lbs of ripe berries per bush should be sufficient. This should be done every 1 to 2 weeks depending on the weather.
Harvesting can be done by hand but is much easier with the aid of a picking bucket which can be purchased at your local garden center. After picking, wash the berries in a mild solution of vinegar and water to keep them from spoiling.
Step 8: Enjoy Your Berries!
Your berries will keep up to one week if stored in a container in the fridge. For longer storage, you can freeze your berries by simply placing them in ziplock bags and storing them in the freezer.
They will be good for up to one year.
You can eat your berries as they are, add them to cereal or make jelly, jelly beans or wine out of them. One of the best things about growing your own produce is being able to enjoy the taste of home grown goodness all year long!
Easy French Pruning For Increased Yields
Pruning is a key part in getting the most out of your bush. The initial training of the bush when you first get it is important but pruning to maintain its shape should be done on a yearly basis.
The idea is to create a well-balanced bush that has an open center so that the sun can reach the centermost leaves as well as the fruits.
Step 1: Before You Begin
Pruning is best done during the early spring as soon as you see new growth begin to appear. You will need a pair of pruning shears and a manicure set (or small scissors).
The best time to prune is right after the last frost. This will ensure that your bush does not suffer from any possible frost damage after the pruning is done.
Step 2: Cut Off the Oldest Branches
The first thing you need to do is cut off the oldest branches which are no longer productive. These can be easily identified by their dark color and rough texture.
Cut them off at a point where they join onto the main branch of the bush. Make sure you make diagonal cuts in order to reduce the possibility of having any disease or fungus infect the rest of the plant.
Step 3: Cut Back the Remaining Branches
Once the oldest branches are removed, you will need to cut back the rest of the branches. There are many different ways that you can prune your blueberry bush and it is ultimately up to you to decide how you want your bush to look.
One method of pruning is called the “Open Center” style and this is what we will be demonstrating here.
Cut each branch back so that it is only one or two buds long. This will ensure that the center of the bush is open and the sunlight can reach all the way through.
You will notice that after you have completed this process, your plant will look very different from the one you bought from the nursery. That’s because you have created your own custom style bush!
Step 4: The Final Touch
The last thing you need to do is prune out any stray, weak or twiggy growth. Make the cut right below the node, where a leaf attaches.
This will encourage stronger growth and more fruit production. By doing this, you can get up to double the yield of what you would normally get from your bush!
Step 5: Enjoy Your Yields!
Your bush should yield more berries that previous years and be much healthier. After the spring, you will only need to do minor pruning unless your bush gets damaged by bad weather.
At this point you can experiment with different pruning techniques and see what style works best for you.
With a bit of practice, you should be able to create the perfect bush that will give you the most yields with the best quality of fruit. Happy pruning!
Step 6: Tips and Tricks
Here are some extra tips and tricks that you can try to get the best yields from your bush. If you only have one bush and no additional space, then it may be best to just follow the simple steps listed above.
Watering- After you have finished pruning your bush, it is important to keep on top of the watering. Always check the soil to make sure that it has enough moisture in it.
Fill it up with water if it is starting to get low. A good tip is to put a jar or jug underneath the plant so you can see when the water level is getting low. This will allow you to water your bush at the perfect time, rather than overwatering or under watering it.
Fertilize- During the growing season you will need to fertilize your bush. You can get basic fertilizer from any garden store and apply it around the base of the plant.
It is important to not overdo this or you may end up damaging your bush. A good guideline to go by is to only fertilize during the first three years that your blueberry bush is in the ground. After that, it should be able to sustain itself.
Harvesting- It is important to remember to harvest your blueberries when they are ripe. If you wait too long, the berries will fall off the bush and go to waste.
Be sure that when you do pick them, you do not crush or damage them. The best way to pick is by snapping them off at the stem. This will ensure that they stay in top condition until you are ready to use them.
Storing- Blueberries are one of the few fruits that actually freeze well. If you pick them and then freeze them right away, you can enjoy their taste even during the winter months.
All you need to do is snap off the stem and place them in a container or ziplock bag once they are frozen. You can also simply place them in a container or bag and place them in the fridge. Either way, they should keep for a very long time and you can have delicious, fresh tasting blueberries all year round.
Blueberries are one of the most delicious fruits you can grow in your garden. Be sure to try out these tips and tricks so that you can get the most out of your bush.
Sources & references used in this article:
The development of the blueberry seed by HP Bell – Canadian Journal of Botany, 1957 – NRC Research Press
Fatty acid composition and antioxidant properties of cold-pressed marionberry, boysenberry, red raspberry, and blueberry seed oils by J Parry, L Su, M Luther, K Zhou… – Journal of agricultural …, 2005 – ACS Publications
Effect of pollen load size and source (self, outcross) on seed and fruit production in highbush blueberry cv. ‘Bluecrop’ (VACCINIUM CORYMBOSUM; Ericaceae) by MH Dogterom, ML Winston… – American Journal of …, 2000 – Wiley Online Library