Hi there, I'm new here, and I have a question. My wife bought a couple of
blueberry bushes. We live in north central Indiana, we have clay soil.
What do we need to do to it to be able to raise blueberries? Any help would
be appreciated. Thanks in advance.
Buying the blueberry plants should be the last of thing one does when
deciding to raise blueberries. Preparing a suitable planting area the year
prior to purchase is a good choice.
First the soil pH should about 5.0 for high bush blueberries, which can be
attained by adding wettable sulfur at about two pounds in a 1000 sq. ft.
area in clay. This should be done around four months before planting because
it takes time for it to effectively lower the pH. Clay requires work before
blueberries will grow well. Incorporate sulfur, peat moss and sand in the
soil to improve tilt, drainage and pH. Blueberries like moisture but don't
like wet feet. Plan on the planting area to be elevated about 4" - 6". After
planting mulch is ideal for keeping the soil evenly moist.
I hope your wife checked to make sure the varieties she purchased are
suitable for your zone and that the plants were not the same variety because
two different varieties are necessary for good pollination and production.
Yes, I know that your wife already purchased the plants, which makes this
advice after the fact. I'd like to suggest that you pot the plants in five
gallon pots in a high humus soil that incorporates peat moss and hold them
until fall in a sunny area and plant them this fall after developing a
suitable planting area. Otherwise, I'd take them back to the nursery for a
I learned most of this after I inherited four plants from a former owner of
the house where I now live. In the process of learning, I killed two of
them, but the survivors are doing well. I'm stubborn, and in the past two
year I've purchased three more plants that are also doing well.
If all else fail, go to your local county extension office and asked for
information on growing blueberries in your area. :)
The major concern for blueberries is getting a soil pH of 4.5 to 5.5. Since you
already have the plants check to see if any of the bluegrass family grows in
If you have high pH loving plants, Than I would suggest digging your planting
holes at least three feet in diameter and a foot deep. Go to a garden center
and buy a container of soil acidifier. Popular brand here is Green Light. It
contains sulfur and iron compounds and and is a very fast acidifier. Some folks
use powdered sulphur but that is slower and less easy to use for a beginner.
Follow the instructions on the bottle. Plant the blueberry, they usually come
with instructions, water deeply use the acidifier and then mulch the plants
with pine straw. You will probably need to water once aweek if it doesn't
rain. Note that I did not say anything about amending the soil. That is
because, I find adding spagnum etc to the planting hole sometimes hinders the
plant. If you could have dug the holes last fall than an amendment would have
been in order. Blueberies are particular about soil base as long as the pH iis
right. In a year or so mulching will amend the soil.
Take a pH test. Prepare the soil by working peat moss and compost
into the ground. Work a cup of cottonseed meal into the soil. Mulch
the area under the bushes with old sawdust (sawdust that has aged a
year) or peat moss. Five hours of sun or more is good.
I'm planting one this year. I'd advise growing in a pot filled with sphagnum
peat moss and (sand or perlite) to improve drainage a little, and keeping it
watered. Clay soil in the great lakes region isn't usually acidic, and messing
around with soil acidifiers is stupid when it's so easy to grow in a pot or
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