Pruning is a task I put off, and my blueberry bushes serve as a testament to this fact. Mainly, I am unsure how to do it correctly most of the time and don’t want to kill my plants.
Eric Stafne, Extension fruit and nut specialist, says there are a few different ways to prune blueberries, depending on what you want to achieve with your plants. But the most important thing is to prune each year after harvest. Pruning creates new wood where flower buds develop.
You can prune for rejuvenation. In this situation, you may have inherited plants that have been neglected for several years and have grown leggy and produce less fruit. If you choose this method, some harvest can be had in the following year (if pruned early enough). And you’ll definitely get a good harvest in the second year.
Here’s how to prune for rejuvenation.
You can also prune minimally. In this situation, you’d basically trim the bushes each year to keep the plant producing new wood and to keep it within a reasonable height for harvest.
Prune blueberries anytime after harvest, but before August 1st to ensure flower buds will have time to mature before the onset of fall and winter.
Pruning is a stress on the bush, so keep them watered and fertilized to make sure they recover and continue to grow at the right rate.
What kind of fertilizer?
The best way to determine what kind and how much fertilizer to use is to do a soil test. Check out our blog post and video on how to take a soil sample or contact your local Extension office. Extension offices have the forms, sample boxes, soil probes, and expertise to help you.
For the best results, pull samples from underneath the bushes.
For more information about growing blueberries, check out our Extension publications 1758, “Establishment and Maintenance of Blueberries” and Extension information sheet 1448, “Fruit and Nut Review - Blueberries.”