Blueberry bushes are most often sold in garden centres as juvenile plants. But blueberries grow easily from seed and can be planted from grocery store stock. Whether started as seedlings or seeds, blueberry bushes require acidic soil to grow: between pH level 4 and 4.5. Unless the soil in your yard is naturally acidic, it will be difficult to maintain blueberry bushes even with soil amendments. Even gardeners with acidic soil should contact their local county extension office to obtain a soil test. The results will reveal if the soil is suitably acidic and dictate any amendments to lower pH.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- 3/4 cup blueberries
- Freezer bag
- Clear plastic container
- Paper plate
- Seed flat with cover
- Sphagnum moss
- Spray bottle
- 3-inch pot
- Seed-starting soil
- Watering can
- Hand trowel
- Houseplant fertiliser
- 10-10-10 fertiliser
Place the blueberries in a freezer bag and freeze them for at least 90 days.
Leave the blueberries out on the counter until they thaw to room temperature.
Place the blueberries in a blender. Then add 3/4 cup of water. Blend the blueberries at high speed for 15 seconds.
Pour the blueberries into a container and allow the slurry to rest for five minutes. The viable seed will sink to the bottom, and the pulp will float.
Separate the seed and the matter. Pour off a little of the pulp slowly. Let the slurry rest for five more minutes, then pour off a little again. Add more fresh water and allow the slurry to rest for five more minutes. Repeat the cycle of adding water, resting, then pouring the pulp off until you are left with only blueberry seeds in the bottom of your container. Scoop out those seeds and spread them on a paper plate to dry.
Sprinkle the blueberry seeds evenly over a seed flat filled with moistened, finely chopped sphagnum moss. Cover them with a thin (no more than 1/4 inch) layer of moss. Cover the flat and keep it indoors in a warm, dark place until the seed germinates in roughly a month. Check the moisture level of the sphagnum moss periodically to make sure it remains moist at all times. If the sphagnum moss begins to dry out, spray it with water from a spray bottle.
Remove the covering once the seeds begin to germinate. Place the seed flat in a sunny window (or greenhouse, if available) and allow the seeds to grow until they reach 2 to 3 inches tall. Continue to keep the sphagnum moist at all times with the spray bottle.
Transfer each seedling into a 3-inch pot filled with a moistened mixture of 1 part sphagnum peat moss, 1 part sand and 1 part seed-starting potting soil. Remove the seedlings by sliding a pencil into the bottom of the seed flat and pushing up. Then dig a depression in the pot's soil with the pencil and plant the seedlings in the pots at the same depth they were growing in the flat. Take great care not to damage the plants. Keep the pot in the same sunny window. Keep the soil moist at all times with gentle watering from a watering can. In two weeks, begin fertilising the seedlings with a liquid houseplant fertiliser at half the recommended amount but at the usual rate.
Transplant the blueberry plants outdoors as soon as all danger of frost has passed. First prepare the soil by loosening to a depth of 6 inches. Then incorporate a 10-10-10 fertiliser at a rate of 1 pound per 100 square feet of planting area. Mix well with a hand trowel.Transplant the blueberry plants at the same depth they grew in their 3-inch pots.
Water the soil around the base of the plant until it is moist to the root depth. Continue to keep the soil consistently moist until the blueberry plant establishes itself and produces new growth. Then water whenever the top 2 to 3 inches of soil dry out.
Spread 2 to 3 inches of organic mulch at the base of each plant at the start of the first winter (but not after that). Remove the mulch in spring when new growth commences.
Fertilise the blueberry with a 10-10-10 fertiliser at a rate of 1 pound per 100 square feet. Fertiliser annually in early spring as soon as new growth commences.
Tips and warnings
- Not all blueberry varieties grow well in all areas. The best place to obtain your blueberries is from a local farmer's market, because locally grown blueberries are more likely to grow well in your area.
- Blueberries set fruit at two years of age.
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