Q. Why are there no flowers on my highbush blueberries this year?
Vaccinium corymbosum, highbush blueberry, in the Ericaceae family, is hardy in Zones 3-7. Blueberry plants need to be 3-4 year old, so well established plants should do well to flower and fruit. A soil test is always a good idea to check it's pH level. Blueberry plants love very acid, moist, organic, well-drained soils (pH 4.5 to 5.5). It is native to somewhat swampy soils but does extremely well under acid, sandy conditions. Mulch to reduce injury around roots and preserve moisture; prune after fruiting. Full sun is best (6+ hours); pH is key, and organic amendment--compost--will condition the soil so the plant can take up what it needs.
Pruning: It is important that blueberries get established before allowing them to bear fruit. Thereafter, they should be heavily pruned each year to avoid over-fruiting, which results in small or poor growth.
Remove all blooms as they appear the first year. In years thereafter, follow these steps after the leaves have dropped:
- Remove low growth around the base. If it doesn't grow up, it gets pruned out!
- Remove the dead wood and non-vigorous twiggy wood. Select for bright-colored wood with long (at least 3 inch) laterals. Remove blotchy-colored short growth.
- If 1/3 to 1/2 of the wood has not been removed by the above steps, thin out the fruiting laterals and small branches until this balance has been obtained.
Fertilizing: Blueberries like acid fertilizers such as Rhododendron or Azalea formulations. For newly planted stock, use 2 tablespoons of 10-20-10 (or similar organic fertilizer) in late spring or once plants are established. (Careful! Blueberries are very sensitive to over-fertilization!) For subsequent years, use 1 ounce of fertilizer for each year from planting, to a total of 8 ounces per plant. Apply in early spring and again in late spring for best results. Always water well after fertilizing.
Blueberry cultivation tips can be found at Highbush Blueberry Gardening.
Hope this helps.
For tips on a variety of gardening topics, see our Plant Information Guides.
- Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service