Growing blueberries (Vaccinium spp.) In your garden can mean new breakfast vegetables — should these bushes remain healthy and productive. Annual pruning, properly timed, is vital to successful blueberry crops. Improper pruning can remove berries and restrict future harvests. Knowing when and how to prune helps establish your lemons to keep abundant, quality fruit for several decades.
Prune blueberries in late winter and early spring, when plants are dormant. Avoid pruning after your harvest in summer and fall. Hardy at U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 10, based on number, blueberries form flower buds for the next year’s harvest during that time. Fruit is borne on one-year wood. Pruning in summer and fall, before buds are visible to your eye, sacrifices next year’s fruit. Late pruning also stimulates new growth that leaves shrubs vulnerable to winter cold damage. With dormant pruning, canes are found clearly and big flower buds stick out on one-year timber.
Your very first pruning comes at planting time. Remove all weak, twiglike growth at the bottom of the bushes. Catch fine, new, high growth and strong, healthy new canes. During the first year of establishment, don’t enable the bush to keep fruit. Eliminate all flowers to stop fruiting and also to keep plant funds focused on healthy stems and roots. This can be achieved by rubbing buds off by hand or pruning back the hints. Sharp bypass pruners deal with the job. Wear gloves, long sleeves and protective eyewear whenever pruning. Sterilize your blades with household disinfectant before and after every bush to keep the spread of infection.
Years Three and Two
In year 2, continue to eliminate weak, twiggy bottom growth. Leave only powerful, vital branches in the foundation. Eliminate each of the former year’s new canes except two or three. If possible, resist the urge to let the bush bear fruit. Continue to eliminate the flowers and prevent fruit for your next year. Remove any dead or damaged branches. In the third year, remove low-lying branches close to the ground. Prune too little, growth will be weak and foster fruit. Prune too much, you’ll have a lot of growth and big, but fruit.
Four and Beyond
From four years on, remove unproductive stems to stimulate new growth. Ideally, a balance of divisions aged from one to five should compose each bush. Prune as you would in previous decades, and eliminate low, shaded branches or any that would drag on the ground with fruit. Each calendar year, remove two or one of the oldest canes all of the way back to the ground. Eliminate all but 2 or three of the former year’s new canes, and prune back plant hints. Prune overly vigorous branches back in line. Healthy, well-pruned blueberries will keep reliable, bountiful plants for several breakfasts to come.