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Blueberry advice

 
Posts: 275
Location: Iron River MI
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I just bought a couple potted highbush blueberry plants and both have immature fruit already. We live in Michigan and the weather has been hot and humid for a while now. Here’s my questions:

1. Can I plant these now, or should I wait until fall so they are dormant?

2. Should I prune off any berries/flowers to promote more rooting?

3. If I do prune the fruits, can I use the prunings as softwood cuttings to try to make more plants, or should I let the plants establish for a year or two before taking cuttings?

Any advice is appreciated. Thank you!
 
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I think the bushes will do much better in the ground than in a pot,  especially in hot w weather.   Better to plant them now.
 
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Hi Brody, this is what works for us.  Like Mk said "the ground is better".  The only issue with that is they will need watered for a while to get their roots unbound.  They are shallow rooters typicly.  We use white pine needles and pine bark as mulch to help keep the soil PH lower.  If the leaves start turning red before fall the PH is too high. A quick fix for high PH is ammonium sulfate sprinkled around it then water well.  Another slower fix is pure garden sulfur mixed in around the soil.  I have never had luck trying to root the stems.  I leave the berries on them.  In our area the robins eat them as fast as they ripen.  We used high tunnel hoops and netting to reduce our losses.
 
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1. I would plant them in the ground also if you have a good location for them.

2. I've had good success just picking off the flowers or small blueberries. Pruning it now may cause the plant to lose more water and dry out easier, and blueberries here are most likely to die during the hottest and driest part of the year.

3. Yeah I would let it get established and take cuttings next year, that way it won't stress the plant too much while it will already be experiencing some transplant shock. I've had trouble rooting softwood cuttings and would love to hear how it goes for you if you give it a try. I've heard of people having success with a misting system, but that's a little more than I want to bite off at the moment. I've had excellent results propagating blueberries by new shoots coming up from the ground. It is super easy and the shoots already have some roots and can thrive with little care.

Best of luck!
 
Brody Ekberg
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Mk Neal wrote:I think the bushes will do much better in the ground than in a pot,  especially in hot w weather.   Better to plant them now.



Will do! Might have to cut a tree or two to get them more sun. And the planting site has a ph around 6.5, so I’m thinking of getting some fresh ground coffee to mix in the soil while planting.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Christopher Shepherd wrote:Hi Brody, this is what works for us.  Like Mk said "the ground is better".  The only issue with that is they will need watered for a while to get their roots unbound.  They are shallow rooters typicly.  We use white pine needles and pine bark as mulch to help keep the soil PH lower.  If the leaves start turning red before fall the PH is too high. A quick fix for high PH is ammonium sulfate sprinkled around it then water well.  Another slower fix is pure garden sulfur mixed in around the soil.  I have never had luck trying to root the stems.  I leave the berries on them.  In our area the robins eat them as fast as they ripen.  We used high tunnel hoops and netting to reduce our losses.



I’ve got stumps with mushroom plugs in them in that same area and try to water them once a week, so watering the blueberries shouldnt be an issue. Plus, it’s got 70 years worth of red pine needle mulch, so the soil stays damp. I also will be chipping pine limbs sometime this summer and can mulch with them as well.

I read used coffee grounds aren’t very acidic, but fresh coffee grounds are. Think mixing some into the planting soil would help drop the ph? Its around 6.5 now.
 
Brody Ekberg
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Steve Thorn wrote:1. I would plant them in the ground also if you have a good location for them.

2. I've had good success just picking off the flowers or small blueberries. Pruning it now may cause the plant to lose more water and dry out easier, and blueberries here are most likely to die during the hottest and driest part of the year.

3. Yeah I would let it get established and take cuttings next year, that way it won't stress the plant too much while it will already be experiencing some transplant shock. I've had trouble rooting softwood cuttings and would love to hear how it goes for you if you give it a try. I've heard of people having success with a misting system, but that's a little more than I want to bite off at the moment. I've had excellent results propagating blueberries by new shoots coming up from the ground. It is super easy and the shoots already have some roots and can thrive with little care.

Best of luck!



Thanks for the advice! I think they should do well around our red pines, as long as I thin some stuff out enough to get them more sun. Theres probably 6” of pine needles as mulch there already and the soil is slightly acidic (6.5). Thinking of mixing fresh coffee grounds in the soil while planting to help with ph. Ill pick off the fruits before planting and wait to take cuttings until sometime next year, unless they send up shoots in which case I’d just use those.

And I feel you about the misting system. I’ve got a bed of coarse sand in a shady spot and just keep shoving cuttings of various things in it. Some take, some dont. All I do is try to keep them waterer. I figure all the ones that die off are probably too weak and finicky to be worthwhile in the long run anyway! I’ve got enough to try to keep up with here as it is, and if I miss a watering I dont want a bunch if babied plants dying because they’re so used to ideal conditions.
 
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Brody Ekberg wrote:I just bought a couple potted highbush blueberry plants and both have immature fruit already. We live in Michigan and the weather has been hot and humid for a while now. Here’s my questions:

1. Can I plant these now, or should I wait until fall so they are dormant?

2. Should I prune off any berries/flowers to promote more rooting?

3. If I do prune the fruits, can I use the prunings as softwood cuttings to try to make more plants, or should I let the plants establish for a year or two before taking cuttings?

Any advice is appreciated. Thank you!



Based on my experience:

1.  Plant it in the ground.  If you can dig a hole, you can plant it.  Watch for plants being root bound in containers, if so - score it...though I suspect your blueberries, if newly purchased are not root bound.

2.  In my opinion, no need to prune - though often times when we shift up containers here at the nursery we often times head plants back hard.  I wouldn't stress it too much on the pruning.

3.  I know people that use small tabletop aero cloners with great success with blueberries, azaleas and other plants.  After much failure with attempted cuttings of my own blueberries this will be my go-to cloning method in the future.  

Don't over think your plants or the ph.  Plants are capable of tolerating a lot.  Newly planted material won't be heavily affected by ph or anything initially.  Don't plant it too low, and remember....plant high, never die - plant low, you never know.  Just as many plants suffer from too much water than they do drying out.  Leaf color has little to do with ph and more to do with stress of the plants.  Many of our container blueberries and serviceberries (at the day job) are various shades of orange/red - simply because they're stressed out in some way, shape, or form.  

Just get those plants in the ground, if you want to fertlize, consider Espoma's Holly Tone and keep an eye on the water.  Check moisture levels 6 inches below the soil level instead of right at ground level and base your water needs on that.  You'll eventually learn to "read" your plants based on how your soil feels.  Good luck and keep us posted!
 
Brody Ekberg
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Rob Kaiser wrote:

Brody Ekberg wrote:I just bought a couple potted highbush blueberry plants and both have immature fruit already. We live in Michigan and the weather has been hot and humid for a while now. Here’s my questions:

1. Can I plant these now, or should I wait until fall so they are dormant?

2. Should I prune off any berries/flowers to promote more rooting?

3. If I do prune the fruits, can I use the prunings as softwood cuttings to try to make more plants, or should I let the plants establish for a year or two before taking cuttings?

Any advice is appreciated. Thank you!



Based on my experience:

1.  Plant it in the ground.  If you can dig a hole, you can plant it.  Watch for plants being root bound in containers, if so - score it...though I suspect your blueberries, if newly purchased are not root bound.

2.  In my opinion, no need to prune - though often times when we shift up containers here at the nursery we often times head plants back hard.  I wouldn't stress it too much on the pruning.

3.  I know people that use small tabletop aero cloners with great success with blueberries, azaleas and other plants.  After much failure with attempted cuttings of my own blueberries this will be my go-to cloning method in the future.  

Don't over think your plants or the ph.  Plants are capable of tolerating a lot.  Newly planted material won't be heavily affected by ph or anything initially.  Don't plant it too low, and remember....plant high, never die - plant low, you never know.  Just as many plants suffer from too much water than they do drying out.  Leaf color has little to do with ph and more to do with stress of the plants.  Many of our container blueberries and serviceberries (at the day job) are various shades of orange/red - simply because they're stressed out in some way, shape, or form.  

Just get those plants in the ground, if you want to fertlize, consider Espoma's Holly Tone and keep an eye on the water.  Check moisture levels 6 inches below the soil level instead of right at ground level and base your water needs on that.  You'll eventually learn to "read" your plants based on how your soil feels.  Good luck and keep us posted!



Very helpful, thank you!

Also, any chance you have experience with chestnuts being in the nursery business? I ask because I’ve got a separate post about them that I’m looking for advice on.
 
Rob Kaiser
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Brody Ekberg wrote:
Very helpful, thank you!

Also, any chance you have experience with chestnuts being in the nursery business? I ask because I’ve got a separate post about them that I’m looking for advice on.



Sure thing, post a link to the other thread and I'd be happy to comment :)
 
Brody Ekberg
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Rob Kaiser wrote:

Brody Ekberg wrote:
Very helpful, thank you!

Also, any chance you have experience with chestnuts being in the nursery business? I ask because I’ve got a separate post about them that I’m looking for advice on.



Sure thing, post a link to the other thread and I'd be happy to comment :)



https://permies.com/t/161461/Chestnut-tree-advice

It started as a separate question, but of you scroll down to June 7, you’ll see the most recent questions I’m asking. Still haven’t heard back from the seller to find out if they’re grafted or seedlings. One nursery worker I talked to yesterday advised me to pick a sucker as the new trunk and prune the rest off but to leave them planted as is.
 
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Keeping a thick layer of grass clippings around my blueberry plants has been the most successful strategy for my conditions.
 
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