Tips for Growing a Blueberry Tree
Anyone interested in growing fruit trees must be intrigued when they see the term “blueberry tree” listed in a nursery publication. While everyone is familiar with the nutritious blueberry, a tree is not generally associated with the luscious berry.
Blueberries are a great benefit to the human diet. Considered to be one of the fruits with the highest in antioxidant value, the round blue fruit also contains numerous vitamins and minerals. They can be eaten fresh or stored as frozen or canned specimens, and can be used in a widely diverse manner in meals. The sweet berry can be an ingredient baked in breads, muffins, pancakes and pies; it can be drank in a blended smoothie; they can form a sauce when crushed and cooked. Likely the most favored means of consuming this nutritious food is simply popping the freshly picked sphere into one’s mouth.
Enhancing the delicious flavor of the fruit and its nutritional value is the ease in which they can be grown just about anywhere. There are two main forms of the plant: low bush and high bush varieties. The low bush usually produces small berries considered to be a wild version, while the high bush varieties are used for commercial and higher production means. It is the high bush that is most commonly grown in individual gardens, and some varieties attain such heights as to be considered a blueberry tree rather than a bush.
High bush blueberry plants must live in highly acidic soil for good berry production and healthy foliage. Testing the soil in the area desired for planting the bushes is best to determine its quality; a good acidic range would be between 4.5 to 5.2 pH level. The soil itself should be loose, such as a sandy loam; however, heavier soils can be conditioned with organic matter to make them more amenable to growing blueberries. An easy and organic method of increasing acidity is to mix pine needles into the soil around the plant roots, and to use additional pine needles as a mulch around the base of the plant.
To achieve the highest yield of fruit production, two or more plants should be included in the garden. While blueberries are self-pollinating, more berries will be produced with cross pollination. Allow the first two years of the plant’s growth to concentrate fully on increasing its strength and size rather than fruit production; this can be done by picking off blossoms. These blooms appear in the spring, and are similar in appearance to tiny bells that may be white, pink, red or green depending on the variety. The blossom is the beginning of the berry itself, which mature in approximately 60 to 80 days. For high bush varieties, the fruit is considered to be large, with a circumference of around one half inch to three quarters of an inch. Traditional fruiting seasons are late June to early September, with the season lasting up to 12 weeks for some varieties.
The reason the high bush version is also called a blueberry tree is that some varieties can reach heights of ten feet. Many of the high bushes also wear a lovely and colorful foliage coat in off season; providing fall and winter interest for the landscape. The plants should be pruned back every year to ensure fresh energy and the newest of branches.
Considering the nutritional value, great flavor and ease in growing the blueberry tree or high bush blueberry, it can only be a benefit to grow your own delicious fruit. As the plants have good longevity, you will be enjoying great bounties of the fruit harvest for years to come.