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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Over-view of blueberries

Since spring of 2010 I have started growing blueberries from seed, and have close to 50 seedlings going, in a seed rack. They take about 4 weeks to germinate, and start off very slowly, but after about 4 months, they pick up their pace and after a dormancy period, I'm assuming they will get a lot faster. Even before that I had 4 blueberry plants that I purchased back in 2009 however 1 of them died off probably due to over-watering in 2010, or some type of fungal disease.

Here's a couple of my first blueberry bushes which were purchased in 2009, but they are finally getting flower buds this year. November 2009.

Here's the same plant November 2010
In 2011 it is finally making buds, but I don't have a shot of this one in particular.

Here are the seedlings that I started in late winter or early spring of 2010. March 27th

In another week after taking them outside, they really darkened up. 5 April, 2010

May 22, 2010

June 13, 2010

 August 25, 2010. They were getting too big for the seed rack so I had to move them to the ground

In October of 2010, I purchased 13 new blueberries from Lowes at about $2 a piece since they had a year end sale, so I couldn't resist. Here's all of them with the original 4 in the front which were planted in 2009. These are much bigger and I knew they were flowering size already.
I planted 8 of them in, and kept the rest of the in the tarp with my potted bamboos, while I left 1 out in the cold to see how it does. As it got to -9F, the one that was in the cold with no protection has some branch damage, however the lower parts were still fine and has leafed back out in the last few days. The ones in the tarp looked the best. I ended up moving them up to 5 gallon pots. The 7 that I planted in the ground replaced some of the seedlings that I had in the blueberry bed, but those were simply potted up.
Here's the 7 in the ground.

Now to get back to 2011, it looks like most of the blueberry plants survived. The only ones that didn't make it were the small seedlings that came out of the soil during the freeze, thaw cycle, however even many of those are recovering as I applied juicy roots cloning gel to them, stuck them in pots in order to save those seedlings.

Here's a few of the seedlings coming back to life taken 27 April 2011

Here's one of the bigger one out of the 13 that were purchased on the year end sale last year. They have flower buds, but aren't loaded with them just yet, but these guys should add another foot or so in height, and really bush out this year. I'm expecting the seedlings to get up in the 1-2ft range easily since they accelerate their growth when they get bigger.
Here's a close up of the flower bunches which should open up in about another week or so.
I will likely get a couple lbs of blueberries if I'm lucky this year, but next year there should be many times more depending on how much bigger these guys get.


  1. How did you start your blueberries? Any special requirements for the seeds? I am going to start some, but I am not sure if I should stratify them.

  2. I purchased 500 seeds, planted in a couple 72 cell seed racks with a mostly peat moss mixture, and sprayed some acidifier on them before putting a humidity dome and giving them a flourescent light to germinate. Most seeds come stratified already and here's where I got them.

    They take around 4 weeks to begin germinating, up to 3 months for the slower ones, and start out growing very slow no matter how much light they get. Through growing them I have found out that the strongest 1 or 2 will survive in each cell choking out the rest, and that they prefer getting up-potted to large pots with mostly peat moss instead of getting planted straight in the ground. Seedlings can sometimes lose their roots over the winter when planted in the ground due to getting heaved up from the freeze, thaw cycle, but they can regenerate them which is why I now prefer keeping them solely in pots under tarps until they fill out a 1 gallon size. The blueberry bed should also be prepared with lots of peat moss mixed in beforehand. I ended up having around 40 survivors at the end giving nearly half of them away, but if I knew they didn't like competition or native clay soil, I wouldn't have lost so many as around 150 germinated.

    The great part about them is that younger seedlings tend to be easier to take cuttings from in comparison to the store bought ones which already have very fat branches.

  3. Do they absolutely need acidic soil to grow? I have Holly Tone somewhere for acid loving plants, so should I use a little for the seeds, or wait until they sprout and get bigger?

  4. I don't think it is absolutely needed to grow because I have never seen any chlorosis on blueberries before, but I add an acidifier just in case. I've tested my soil to be around 6.5 and only add a little bit of iron sulfate to hopefully get them to grow faster.

    Even with stratified seeds that guarantee 90% germination, they will still usually take about a month to start germinating and it can get annoying because they need to get watered several times even before the first sprout comes up.

    The ones in this picture were planted around christmas, and are still very small by May, but I have found that they tend to get red stems and accelerate their growth in response to stronger light.

  5. Here is an update on blueberries for 2012