Blueberry Questions

Asked October 20, 2020, 10:04 AM EDT

Hello, I’m growing blueberries in a raised bed that’s 10’ x 10’. They’re currently planted as a hedgerow along one end of the box, but there are 8 bushes altogether and they’re getting crowded, so I’d like to transplant them in order to space them out throughout the box for better production. In addition, I’d like to design the box as a sort of blueberry guild with companion plants, and have been researching that topic, but as I research this whole project, I’m finding information that is sometimes contradictory - so I thought I’d turn to the experts! My questions: 1. What are the best practices for transplanting established blueberry bushes? In particular, should I prune after transplanting? (Or, would you advise against this altogether?) The most established bushes have been in this location for about 8 years. 2. What companion plants, fruit, veg, and flower, do you recommend? 3. What are best practices for keeping birds away? This past year, they plucked most of the fruit through my bird netting. Should I lay it higher, like on arches or some other raised structure? 4. Any other advice, any questions I should have asked but didn’t? Thank you so much!

Oakland County Michigan

1 Response

I would prune the plants after transplanting. You will reduce the root volume when you dig the plant up and move it. You need to bring the root and shoots back into balance or growth will be stunted for several years. I would recommend removing the 3 or 4 of the oldest canes. There is a video of me talking about blueberry production here. https://www.canr.msu.edu/beginning_farmer_webinar_series/fruit_webinars The most productive canes are 3 to 6 years old with good growth and larger fruit than older shoots. Since blueberries requirs an acid soil with a pH of about 5 there are few other fruits and vegetable that grow well in such acid soil. I don't have any companion plant to suggest.
For birds the best solution is netting. It sounds like you are simply draping nets over the bush and the mesh is to large if the birds can stick their heads through the mesh. Certainly if you could build a frame for the net it would be more effective. You also need to be sure that the birds cannot get in under the net. I find the sprays are not very effective and birds quickly adapt to scare tactics.
Watch my video and ask other questions when you think of them.