We often get complaints about our poor soils in most of St. Tammany. That may be true for some plants but our low pH soils are just right for blueberries. A soil pH is the measure of the acidity and alkaline of the soil. Soils in our area range from pH 4.0 – 5.5. Blueberries require a soil pH of 4.0 to 5.3. Without adding anything to our soil, blueberries are a great choice as a fruit.
For blueberries consider these guidelines:
- Plant in fall or winter. A 13-36 inch, 2 year old plant with transplant well. Plant about 6-8 feet apart, 8-10 feet between rows.
- Keep roots moist before and after planting. Blueberries root are fibrous and dry out quickly. Apply plenty of mulch at the planting. Pine straw about 4 inches deep works well
- No fertilize is needed at the planting. After new growth begins in the spring apply 1ounce of 10-10-10 or 2 ounces of azalea fertilizer 4-8-8 per plant. If irrigation and rainfall is adequate repeat the same rate in May and July with 2 ounces of 10-10-10 or 4 ounces of 4-8-8 per plant.
- Very little pruning is required in the first 3 to 4 years. As the canes grow in diameter and height, cut back 3 to 4 canes from ground level to 24 inches. Overgrown canes can be severely cut back during winter months.
- Continue to resupply decayed pine bark or pine straw as mulch, 3 inches deep and 24 inches from side to side will be sufficient. Blueberries are shallow rooted and dry out quickly in drought conditions. The mulch not only insulates the roots, but helps retain moisture.
- Adequate water is essential but over watering can cause root rot infection. Generally, watering once every two days without rain is sufficient. Supplemental irrigation is a must during fruit bud formation in the fall
Growing Blueberries in our area should be one fruit planting for every landscape. For more blueberry information, please see the Blueberry section of the LSU AgCenter website or the LSU AgCenter publication, Home Blueberry Production in Louisiana.