Blueberries: Prune after transplanting
Hi there, I didn't have much choice on the timing here but I just (May 1) gained 4 mature highbush bluberry bushes. I have put them in the ground with some acid fertilizer and compost in the hole. I watered them in extensively and plan to continue that for a long time. There are many flowers. I was told to cut them back so the roots could take but another source suggested not to prune. Do you have any advice on whether to prune now or not and how to do so?
Hood River County Oregon
Hi and thanks for contacting Ask an Expert.
Plants gain their carbs from the sun through the leaves, which in turn feeds the roots. Roots of course gain nutrients from the soil and feed the leaves and stems as well.
Your mature plants do not need to be pruned. The shock of being moved is enough. You planted them with some added nutrients so watering them should be enough.
You could remove some of the blossoms by hand to take the pressure off the bushes. That is all I would do though.
Watch how much watering you do. Blueberries do not like wet feet. Check the soil and let it dry out between watering. It is better to water deeply once in a while then to water lightly all the time. Do a finger check down to your second knuckle. If the soil is moist do not water, wait until it is dry. The compost you added will hold water longer than just regular soil.
You can get an inexpensive pH test kit at a garden store. I would test your soil. Take samples from about 5 different areas in the blueberry bed and mix according to directions for the test. Blueberries like acidic soil 4.5 - 5.5. You can add sulfur or peat if it is not low enough. They need a lot of iron and iron is in greater quantity at the lower pH levels.
I have added a link from Oregon State on blueberries. There are other publications as well and links to them are at the bottom of this publication: https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/sites/catalog/files/project/pdf/pnw656.pdf
If you have further questions, please contact us. Have fun with your new blueberry bushes.