Growing Blueberries From Seed Created by D.A. Abdalla, University of Maine Cooperative Extension Service, Orono, ME 04469. From seed, lowbush blueberries may be grown with relative ease. The plants can subsequently be planted in prepared rows, empty fields, or as a decorative ground cover in residential landscaping.
January or February is the optimal time to start seeds. Directions Blueberry seed must have been frozen for at least 90 days. This will end the nesting stage of the seeds. A modest quantity of seed will produce several seedlings. Obtain the seed using one of the following techniques: Waring Blender (Kitchen Blender) Blender with 3/4 cup of thawed berries.
Fill 3/4 of the container with water. Put on the lid and run the blender on high for 10 to 15 seconds. Permit to stand for 5 minutes. The seed will drop to the bottom of the water while the pulp will remain afloat. Slowly pour out a portion of the pulp and add new water.
- Permit the seed to settle again.
- Slowly drain out more pulpy water.
- Add additional pure water.
- Permit the seed to settle.
- Repeat this procedure until just the blueberry seeds remain at the bottom and no pulp remains.
- Remove the seed and spread it out to dry on a paper towel.
- Food Grinder Place 3/4 cup of ground thawed blueberries in a quart jar.
Wash the interior of the grinder into the jar. Fill with water to 3/4 capacity and lid. Intensively shake for many minutes. Allow to stand for five minutes as described above, and then drain out the pulp using the same method. A Bowl of Berries Being Crushed 3/4 cup of thawed berries should be placed in a mixing dish.
- Thoroughly mash with a pedestal.
- Place in a one-quart jar and proceed as described above.
- Plant seeds in a 3″ square box with finely milled, damp sphagnum moss.
- Spread seed evenly on the moss, then cover with a very thin layer of moss.
- It is essential that this coating not be too thick.
- Eep moss damp, but not drenched, and set it flat in a warm area (60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit) while covering it with newspaper.
The seed should germinate within a month. Take the newspaper away. The sprouting seedlings are little. Place them flat in a sunny window or greenhouse once they emerge. Keep seedlings wet and permit them to grow in the moss until they reach a height of two to three inches.
- Remove plantings with care (especially around the root system).
- Each seedling should be planted in two to three inches of peat or plastic pots containing a mixture of one-third peat, one-third sand, and one-third soil.
- The seedlings should be placed in a sunny position and well-watered.
- After two or three weeks, treat the seedlings in containers with half the recommended amount of a liquid fertilizer such as Start-N-Gro, etc.
After the risk of frost has passed, plant seedlings in the selected area. Water well during the summer. Before planting, one pound of 10-10-10 fertilizer per 100 square feet can be put into the soil. Mulch the seedlings with straw, sawdust, or pine needles throughout their first winter (about November 1).
Remove in the spring as the buds begin to expand. At this time, 1 pound of 10-10-10 fertilizer per 100 square feet can be applied once more. Blueberry plants enjoy a great deal of water (but not until the soil is waterlogged). Two-year-old plants should blossom and produce a few berries. This publication’s contents are offered solely for educational reasons.
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Can a blueberry be used to produce a blueberry plant?
Blueberry Propagation from Seeds – Although it is feasible to grow blueberries from seeds, this method is often limited to lowbush blueberry bushes. Due to the minute size of blueberry seeds, it is simplest to remove them from the fruit in large quantities.
- First, place the blueberries in the freezer for 90 days to stratify the seeds.
- Then, pulse the berries with lots of water in a blender and remove the pulp that rises to the top.
- Repeat this process until there are a sufficient number of seeds remaining in the water.
- Spread the seeds equally over the damp sphagnum moss and lightly cover.
Until germination, which should occur within one month, keep the medium wet, but not soggy, and in a slightly gloomy environment. Now is the moment to increase the seedlings’ exposure to light. Once they have achieved a height of around 2 to 3 inches (5-8 cm), they may be transplanted into separate pots.
Blueberries should not be grown on soils with a pH greater than 7.0, since this will necessitate higher rates of acidifying amendments and is not advised. Consider growing blueberries on a raised bed or a big container if the pH of your soil is more than 7.
- By adding nutrients to a blueberry plantation on a raised bed, you may rapidly obtain the ideal soil pH.
- Blueberries require appropriate water, particularly in their first year of growth, in order to build healthy roots.
- During the growth season, blueberry plants demand 1″ of water every week on average.
Seeds FDR97 Vaccinium corymbosum (Highbush Blueberry) A deciduous, medium to large, multi-stemmed shrub that can reach a height of 10 feet, but often reaches a height of 7-9 feet. The blooms bloom between May and June. Typically, the flowers are abundant and rather spectacular.
- The fruits of the highbush blueberry are tiny (1/3 inch), dark blue, and coated with a white coating.
- The fruit ripens between the middle and end of summer.
- The fruits are wonderful and sweet.
- This tree requires a wet, rich in organic content, and well-drained soil.
- It favors acidic soil (4.5 to 5.5).
- The blueberry tree prefers mulch around its roots and full to partial sun exposure.
More sunlight results in increased flowering, fruit production, and autumn leaf hue. Hardiness zones: 3-9 Upon arrival, pre-stratified seeds must be sown immediately. Return to Seed Main Menu
What month should blueberries be planted?
Growing Blueberries for Beginners Share this Blueberries are an excellent source of antioxidants, fiber, and vitamin C. They are a favorite among children and adults due to their freshness. They freeze well, can be made into jams and jellies, and can be baked into pies, breads, and muffins.
- The plants are perennials, so once the initial investment has been made, they will continue to produce for many years if cared for properly.
- Site Evaluation and Planning Choose a location with good air circulation and at least eight hours of direct sunlight per day.
- Blueberries can grow in soils with a pH range of 3.8 to 5.5, but they prefer a pH closer to 4.5, which in most regions requires the addition of elemental sulfur to lower the pH.
To a depth of at least 12 inches, sulfur should be incorporated. The West Virginia University Soil Testing Lab offers free crop-specific soil testing to West Virginia residents, and it is recommended that all gardeners test their soil annually and make fertilizing and pH adjustments based on the lab’s recommendations.
Select and prepare a planting site in the fall for planting in the spring to allow time, if necessary, for pH adjustment. Prior to planting, weeds should be eliminated to reduce competition with the blueberry plants. If this is done in the fall, a cover crop, such as annual rye, can be planted and tilled under in the spring to reduce weed growth and increase soil organic matter.
Adding 3 to 5 inches of mulch around each blueberry plant after planting will aid in water retention and reduce weed growth. Choosing Varieties Blueberry cultivars should be selected according on climate, soil, and desired flavor. Even in varieties designated as self-fruitful, which do not require cross pollination to set fruit, two or more types flowering at the same time can assure cross pollination and bigger fruit.
- There are several varieties of blueberries.
- There are variants of lowbush, rabbiteye, half-bush, southern highbush, and northern highbush.
- Due of their lack of winter hardiness, rabbiteye cultivars are rarely recommended in West Virginia.
- Half-bush blueberries are the product of interspecific hybridization between low-bush and high-bush species in order to increase winter cold tolerance and fruit size while reducing the height of a shrub to around 3 to 4 feet.
Ornablue is the type created in West Virginia for use in the landscaping business as an edible hedge. Southern highbush cultivars have lower chilling needs and respond to higher temperatures by initiating spring growth and flowering relatively early, making them more susceptible to harm from late-spring frosts.
- Once established, northern highbush cultivars produce high yields.
- The size, quality, and disease or pest resistance of berries depend on the variety selected.
- Northern highbush types are optimal for the majority of West Virginia’s areas.
- If adequate space is available, planting a few types of early, mid, and late season blueberries can ensure fruit production throughout the whole year.
|Early||Spartan||Large berry size, very sweet|
|Early||Patriot||Low-growing bush (good for containers), medium fruit size|
|Early||Duke||Medium/large berries, mild flavor|
|Mid||Legacy||Medium berry size, very productive, needs heavy pruning|
|Mid||Bluecrop||High yield, long production life, most common variety in U.S.|
|Mid||Blueray||Large berry size, sweet flavor|
|Late||Elliot||Medium berry size, milder flavor|
|Late||Jersey||High yield, large sweet berries|
|Late||Chandler||Large berries, excellent flavor|
|Double||Sweetheart||Provides two crops – early and late, large fruit, good flavor|
Planting Blueberries have shallow roots and should be planted in loose, well-drained soil containing greater than 3% organic matter. Utilizing cover crops prior to planting, incorporating peat or pine needles into the soil at planting, and mulching annually can increase organic matter.
- Also of concern is Phytophthora root rot, which makes well-drained soil essential.
- Fertilization should be based on soil analysis, with fertilizer applied in a 6-inch radius around the plant’s base.
- After the first year, proper fertilization will aid in root development, cane growth, and fruit production.
Once varieties have been selected, plants should be ordered or purchased from a reputable supplier to ensure their quality. The majority of retailers will ship your order in accordance with your location’s preferred planting time; ensure that your site is ready for planting by the time the plants arrive.
Blueberries should be planted in the fall by mid-October, or in the early spring after the danger of severe frost has passed. When you receive your plants, verify that they appear healthy and that their roots are moist. For optimal results, planting should occur within two days of arrival. They can be wrapped and refrigerated for a week or so, but they should be planted as soon as possible.
At planting, dig a large hole that is two to three times the width of the plant’s container to allow the roots to spread and grow unrestrictedly. Set the roots at the same depth they grew in the container. Backfill around them with a mixture of wood chips, wet peat moss, and the original soil.
- If peat moss is not thoroughly saturated with water, it will act as a wick, drawing moisture away from the roots and drying them out.
- Water quickly to eliminate any air pockets and provide proper root contact with the soil.
- The distance between blueberry plants should be at least 3 to 5 feet or 6 to 8 feet, depending on the type.
Highbush types require a spacing of 6 to 8 feet inside the row and 10 feet between rows. New plants must be adequately and often hydrated to prevent drought stress. Adding a 3 to 5-inch-thick layer of sawdust, leaves, or wood chips around a shrub will prevent weed growth and reduce competition for moisture and nutrients.
This heavy layer of mulch will safeguard the plant’s thin root system against drought. Annually apply more mulch to aid with water retention. In the first year after planting, cut all flower buds from the canes in order to focus the plant’s energy on root growth. Every two to three years, collect a soil sample for analysis, paying close attention to pH values.
If required, make the appropriate changes. In the majority of cases, a yearly application of pine-needle, oak, and maple leaf mulch and acidifying fertilizers such as ammonium sulfate will be adequate to maintain the requisite low pH. In certain circumstances, reducing the pH requires the addition of sulfur powder or pellets.
|Present pH||4.5 Target Soil pH||5.0 Target Soil pH|
|Sand lbs./acre||Silt lbs./acre||Clay lbs./acre||Sand lbs./acre||Silt lbs./acre||Clay lbs./acre|
2010 Mid-Atlantic Berry Guide Pest and Disease Concerns Source: The use of netting, open-weave fabric, or wire cages can prevent birds and deer from eating berries. To a limited extent, noisemakers, such as pie tins, and decoys, such as owls and snakes, can be used to control wildlife.
A suitable location, adequate spacing, and annual pruning that permits air circulation will reduce foliar disease. By selecting disease-resistant varieties and providing optimal growing conditions, blueberry plants will be less susceptible to disease in general. However, diseases such as mummy berry, anthracnose, Phomopsis, and Fusicoccum canker may develop over time and necessitate the use of fungicides.
Sanitation, the removal of infected berries from the plant and the soil, and the application of Actinovate or Double Nickel should reduce the severity of mummy berry and anthracnose. Phomopsis and Fusicoccum canker can be reduced by removing infected stems through careful pruning and applying copper.
- Choosing sites with well-drained soil and avoiding clay will aid in preventing root rot diseases.
- Root rots, such as Phytophthora root rot, are prevalent when roots are saturated, when bedding is reused, or when new plants are planted in an area where berries were previously grown.
- Replanting in the same area can also lead to the accumulation of soil nematodes, which feed on plant roots and ultimately cause plant decline and death.
With an annual application of Aliette or Agri-Fos and adequate drainage, Phytophthora root rot can be kept under control. Several insect pests, including aphids, leafhoppers, Japanese beetles, borers, and maggots, can also affect blueberries. Spinosad is an organically-approved insecticide, but it is toxic to pollinators like bees.
- It should only be used when plants are not in bloom, as in the case of the Spotted wing drosophila, which lays eggs after berries have formed.
- The overuse of any pesticide can result in the development of resistance in target populations, as has already occurred with a number of widely used insecticides.
Bt (Bacillus Thuringiensis), marketed as DiPel, is an organically-approved bacterium that is efficient in controlling many Lepidopteran insect pests, such as caterpillars and a variety of worms. However, it is ineffective against maggots and other larvae that have already entered the fruit.
- Scales can be managed by applying dormant or horticultural oil at the appropriate time.
- Make sure that any pesticide you use is approved for the identified pest, and always read and follow all label directions.
- Pruning Blueberry bushes must be trimmed annually during the dormant season to remove any diseased, damaged, or rubbing wood.
Those that aren’t pruned may produce more canes than they can sustain, resulting in smaller fruit and reduced yield, as well as a tangled growth pattern that hinders light penetration and air flow, so increasing the likelihood of disease development.
Only two or three canes that grew the previous year should be retained, so that by the seventh year, the bush will have around twelve canes that are all growing erect. Remove any canes that are ill or wounded, grow horizontally rather than vertically, are too thin to hold fruit, lacked sufficient blossoms or berries the previous year, or are too old and have stems with a whitish-gray hue).
To preserve the health and production of the shrub, around 20 percent of the older, undesirable canes must be cut annually. Mercer County WVU Extension Agent Jodi Richmond Updated on July 2020 As a courtesy to the reader, recommendations for the use of agricultural pesticides are offered.
The use of brand names and any reference or listing of commercial items or services does not indicate sponsorship or discrimination against similar products or services that are not included. Individuals who use agricultural chemicals are responsible for ensuring that the intended usage is in accordance with applicable legislation and the product label.
Before using any chemical, make careful to receive current information on usage laws and study the current product label. Contact your county’s Cooperative Extension representative for assistance: Growing Blueberries for Beginners