High in phytochemicals and micronutrients, blueberries reach their peak production in July, the official “Blueberry Month” in the United States and Canada. A member of the Vaccinium family of fruit-bearing bushes, blueberries produce a “false berry,” prized in desserts and nutritional drinks. The best time to transplant a blueberry bush is in the fall, after it drops its leaves.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Organic matter (for heavy soil)
- Soil enhancers (optional)
Move a blueberry bush if it is crowded in its current location or if the soil or available sunlight are lacking. Blueberries produce the best crop in soils high in organic matter and with good drainage. Bushes that sit in water longer than a few hours at a time have an increased risk of disease.
Locate a spot on your property that is higher than other areas when transplanting your blueberry bush. Low-lying areas are prone to late frosts in the spring and early frosts in the fall. In addition, blueberries need full sunlight during the day.
Prepare the new site by adding organic matter and incorporating it within the upper 2 feet of soil. Blueberry roots are shallow and sensitive to heavy soil compaction. In addition, take a sample of your soil to your Extension office. Blueberries do best when planted in a soil with a pH balance around 5.0.
Add ammonium sulphate fertiliser to neutralise acidic soil before you transplant (see Resources below).
Wait until the first frost in your area when the blueberry bush begins to go dormant. There may still be some green in the base of the shoots, but the tops should be dry and brittle.
Dig wide and shallow when transplanting the bush. Since blueberries send out congested fibrous roots within the top 2 feet of soil, it’s imperative to gather as much as possible of the root system when moving the bush to its new site.
Keep as much of the native soil on the root ball as possible. Blueberry bushes have sensitive root systems that are easily shocked. Recruit assistants at this point and have everyone lift the wide root ball carefully and place it on the burlap. Bind the corners of the burlap up to support the roots and transport to the new location.
Transplant the bush into a hole no deeper than your root ball. Pack additional loose soil around the edges before watering. Resist adding water during the transplanting process, as it might wash more of the soil off the roots.
Compact the soil gently around the blueberry bush and water thoroughly. Continue to water the bush until the ground freezes by soaking the area every 2 or 3 days and letting the soil dry slightly between waterings.
Tips and warnings
- Mulch with dried leaves or compost to offer root protection from winter freezing.
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