Blueberries are a popular summer treat. These sweet and tart flavor blueberries can be eaten all year long for its healthy and nutritious value. Out of any common fruit or vegetable, blueberries are considered to have the highest levels of antioxidants.
But do you know what blueberries love the most?
Acidic soil. Yes, you read it right.
You can buy blueberry plants of your choice and can successfully grow various types of blueberries in your home garden. All you need to do is -amend the soil prior planting blueberries.
Basically, there are four types of blueberries: highbush, lowbush, rabbiteye and hybrid half-high. Further these four are subdivided into other varieties.
Blue Ray blueberry and Bluecrop blueberry, the types of highbush blueberry form an excellent ornamental value. Moreover, bright blue-green foliage, the Misty blueberry, the high-yielding variety of Southern Highbush is also one of the most attractive types.
These yield best when planted with other blueberry varieties.
Are you eagerly waiting to plant the beautiful blueberries in your home garden? Read ahead to know how to prepare soil for blueberry plants?
SOIL FOR BLUEBERRY BUSH
Usually fruits and vegetables grow well in neutral pH soil i.e. 6.5 to 7.5 but to be more precise, blueberries grow well in a soil that has a pH of 4.5-4.8.
If blueberries are grown at neutral pH, they tend to have yellowish leaves, slow and weak growth as well as they bear little to no fruit.
How to check the soil’s pH level?
Before adjusting the soil’s pH for different blueberry varities, it is important to determine the original pH and the type of soil first.
All you have to do is take the soil’s sample where you want to plant the blueberry bushes and send the sample to the soil testing lab or the local cooperative extension office. When you get the results then along with the soil’s pH value, you get other valuable information like soil texture, soil nutrients and amount of organic matter present in the soil (OM%).
The report helps you analyze how much amendment is required to be done.
How to amend the soil’s pH level?
If the soil has high organic matter as well as the pH value is above 5.5, more sulfur amended should be done.
Elemental sulfur (organic) and Ammonium Sulfate (synthetic) are widely used to lower soil’s acidity level. When using ammonium sulfate ensure not to burn existing plants as it is extremely soluble fertilizer.
Elemental sulfur takes longer time (maybe 1or2 years) to lower soil’s pH level as it works with natural soil bacteria.
Soil’s pH level takes several months to change. Hence, it is advisable to add elemental sulfur to the soil during fall before planting. Depending on the soil’s pH and the type, the required amount can be determined.
Remember, when the biological process of lowering the soil’s acidity is on, do cover the soil. You can mulch as a cover both prior and after planting using pine needles, wood chips and finely shredded leaves.
When you begin planting, just scratch some part to plant and then place it back.
Using Sphagnum Peat Moss
Forgot to amend the soil but plan to plant blueberries this spring. Never mind, add an acidic growing medium like peat moss in your planting area.
This works well if the original pH value is 5.5-7.0. Spread the peat moss around 4-6 inches to the top 6-8 inches of the soil. As roots expand outward, please ensure to amend the soil throughout the planting area instead of just amending the planting holes.
Depending on the soil’s pH level, the amount of peat required (tentative).
- If it is closer to 7.0 then 5-6 inches peat is required.
- If the pH is 5.5-6 then 4-5 inches peat is required.
Please note: After 6 months of planting blueberries, again get the soil tested.
What about the soil’s texture?
Blueberry bushes may produce for more than 50 years, depending on the type of soil and environmental conditions you offer. Soil for planting blueberry bushes should be rich in organic matter but should have good aeration and drainage. Blueberry bushes prefer well-drained sandy loam or clay loam soil with adequate water-holding capacity. These bushes cannot withstand wet or heavy soils as it may lead to ‘root rot’.
Choose organic amendments with low pH only such as sawdust.
NOTE: Do not use mushroom compost or composted manure or they may kill your plants due to high nitrogen content. If you are not sure whether the compost is worth using or not, just leave it.
When organic material is mixed well by digging, it ensures uniformity of soil properties. Hence, preparing the mixture comprising 50% native soil, 40% peat moss and 10% compost is worth using for growing blueberry bushes.
Though, using peat moss (has average pH of 4.0) is not that important but it helps with heavy clay soil, lowers the acidity level of soil and helps in getting proper texture of soil. When using loamy soil, peat moss is not required.
Remove weeds, grasses and more!
You wouldn’t possibly like to hinder the growth of your blueberry bushes, isn’t? Though tedious, you need to remove the weeds, rocks, tree roots, grasses and start preparing the planting area for blueberries.
Blueberries do not like competitors as they have shallow root systems. Agreed! Getting rid of these is time consuming but have faith, as it is worth the time.
Do not forget to plant the blueberry bushes in full Sun for good fruit crops.
Soil preparation for blueberry bushes is easier than you might think. Summarizing the steps below:
- Carry a soil sample and get it tested.
- Before planting, get rid of weeds, grasses and roots.
- Add sulfur if needed.
- Allow sulfur to work (more than 6 months).
- Add peat moss and some compost to improve soil’s texture.
- Push aside the soil cover and plant the blueberry bushes.
Is your soil ready for blueberry plantation? If not, work according to the above mentioned steps and start the soil prep for your blueberry bush to grow and harvest plump and juicy blueberries.