Blueberry planting

Asked January 2, 2014, 2:54 PM EST

Hello,

I just moved into my first house and would like to plant a blueberry bush in memory of my mother and father near their gardens. I have been looking online and have come across several varieties for purchase, including: Northern Highbush blueberry plant varieties Duke, Bluecrop, and Elliott and also the Liberty, Reka, and Legacy blueberry plant varieties. Is there a certain variety that you would recommend for my area? I believe we are a 5b. Also, is it necessary or more advantage to plant more then one together. Is it necessary to plant near a pine or other coniferous tree to ensure the acidity of the soil? If I cannot, is it a poor venture to pursue? There is a chance I can plant them near some arborvitae. Lastly, I am impatient and would like to order ones that will fruit this year for my father's birthday. I have found a site that offers them 2-3, 3-4, and 4-5 foot tall which all say they will fruit this summer. How fast do they grow, how many inches per year? In the picture the more mature plants seem more spindly. Is that typical of that age, or is that typical of one that age that is being shipped? Would it be more aadvantageous in terms of growth and bushiness to get a younger bush? Are there any sites you would recommend for purchasing a bush? Thank you much.

Alpena County Michigan

1 Response

That far north I would recommend Blueray, Patriot or Bluetta. These are all winter hardy varieties that can withstand winter cold. Some of the varieties you suggested would not ripen before your first frost.I assume you have sandy soil. The soil pH needs to be 5.5 or less. If it is not I suggest digging a large planting hole and mixing in peat moss with the soil at a 1:1 ratio. I would also suggest mulching with pine or cedar bark.It takes 8 to 12 years for a bush to grow to maturity. If you fruit the bush you will stunt its growth and delay when it gets to full size. Generally larger plants that have been grown in the nursery for several years cost more. They will have fruit buds and will bear fruit this spring. The varieties I named should be about 4 feet tall when mature. The shoots grow about 12 to 18 inches a year and the fruit is borne at the shoot tips on last year's wood. We generally prune by removing whole shoots at the base of the plant. When you notice that the shoots of a particular trunk are not growing very much just remove the whole trunk at the base. The goal is to have new shoots coming from the base of the plant every year and remove the old shoots when they are about 8 years old. the most productive shoots are 3 to 5 years old.