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Blueberry FAQ


On ordering a blueberry for my home garden from my local nursery I’ve been informed I need two for pollination. Your info sheets do not state this so is it correct or are they selling me another plant! Would appreciate your answer on this.

Blueberry plants are self-fertile but if you have two varieties you will get a higher yield. Therefore it helps with pollination.


Pollination for fruit
Hi Fiona
The garden centre tells me we need two trees so that they pollinate to give fruit, is this correct also can you tell me the variety to order for fruiting in Dec/Jan/Feb/March.
Many thanks for your help, Bob

Good morning Bob
Blueberries will fruit if there are only one variety but if you do have two different varieties your will get a higher yield. Our garden centre varieties Tasty Blue, Blue Magic and Blue Dawn fruit from December through to February.


Pruning
Hi There
I have 3 of your blueberry plants , planted earlier in the year, and can you please tell me, how to prune them. They have finished fruiting.
Thanks, Clive

Pruning is needed to remove dead, diseased or weak growth. Cut back main leaders to encourage bushy shape – remember fruit is born on two year old wood only. In the earlier years make sure this is a light prune. In latter years older branches will need cutting back to encourage vigorous new growth. Four or five strong shoots per plant should be retained for best results.


Fruit Dropping
Hi Fiona I have just read your latest response regarding the blue berries. Over the years I have tried several bushes, the best performing for myself seems to be the highbush variety. My only problem is that it is not putting out lots of new shoots rather just continuing growing on the older wood. I am wondering as it flowers and fruits it is not the healthiest bush but I am talking about growing it in Alexandra alongside my blackcurrant bushes. I have heard that it is important that the roots are infected with Mycorrhizal fungi to really perform, the other problem being that the fruit drops off just before it is really fully ripened. I presume this is a problem with keeping the water up in our drought prone area. Love to catch up on your new products.
Cheers Sharon

Good morning Sharon
We contacted HortResearch and they have come back with the following information.
"Sounds like a soil problem, may not have it acidic enough for blueberries You need to add lots of mulch around the roots, to avoid them drying out, azalea fertiliser or similar. If they can get hold of some peat soil from around blueberries, and incorporate it around the roots, it will help with mycorrhizal inoculations. Watering through the growing season will help prevent fruit drop, but tell them not to over-water. Risk of root rot is high."
I hope this helps you Sharon. All blueberries like acidic soil and do not like to dry out or get too wet. Otherwise they are very easy to go.
Happy Gardening.


Dropping Leaves
My Blue Dawn which I planted 7/8 months ago is dropping its leaves and not looking well. I live in Rotorua so we get some pretty cold nights and I was wondering if this blueberry is frost tender. It is planted alongside a Blueberry Selection (Waimea Orchards) which is still very healthy. It gets a little bit of sun in the winter, mostly morning. I am also not sure what and when I should be feeding it.
Being a fairly novice gardener, I would appreciate your help please.

You should feed with citrus fertilizer in spring when growth starts. Plants are shutting down now that is why it is loosing some leaves. All blueberries are different and not all loose their leaves.


Pollinators
Today I purchased 4 x Blue Dawn (Takahe) Blueberry bushes ($100). Your label does not define the family this variety belongs to e.g. Highbush or Rabbiteye.
Apart from interest I am trying to establish which other varieties to buy for best pollination.
I live in Timaru and growing them in a single row running North to South.
Hopefully when fully grown they will form an effective screen separating the ornamental garden from the vegetables.
I would like the pollinating ones to grow to a similar height and width.

Blue Dawn, Tasty Blue and Blue Magic are all rabbiteye varieties and they will help pollinate each other. They all will grow to the same height and width. Blue Magic does have a more weeping form and fruits very heavily so needs thinning while young.
I hope this helps.


Hi, I have 2 bushes that I would like to transplant is this advisable? Many thanks for your advice.

Yes this can be done. You need to wait until winter when depending on the varieties you have, whether they are deciduous or not, they may go dormant and this is the best time to transplant them.


Mulching
I purchased some blueberry plants off you several years ago. I have a question on mulches which hopefully you can answer. I want to use untreated pine sawdust in a heavy application as a mulch down the rows. I understand this will take the nitrogen out of the soil. Can I overcome this by applying blood and bone or would you recommend an acidic type fertiliser such as Rhodo/ Azalea fertiliser before I apply the sawdust. Also could you please advise the rate of application of any fertiliser.

Thank you for your enquiry re mulching.
I see no issues with applying sawdust as a mulch on top of the soil surface you will potentially come into trouble with ‘nitrogen tie up’ if you were planting into the sawdust and/or incorporating it into the soil.
Applying fertilizers should be performed in spring once growth restarts and based on a soil test to ensure that the right fertilizer and rate is used.


Dieback
I live in ChCh and want to plant this on a wire frame on an eastern aspect but outside a study. I would really like to have a fruiting variety e.g. Black satin,,,but don’t want to be looking at a bare fence over winter...thus I want to know if they retain their leaves over winter Thanks for your help
Secondly I have your blueberries: I planted with a large hole filled with peat but at end of first year one died: the stems turned black and gradually died back. Now the other which has flowered profusely and fruit is setting is starting to get some of this brown on the stems. The first year they were sprayed with Bravo and Guardall and now I am changing to liquid sulphur Can you please tell me what else I should do or change?

Yes the Blackberry Black Satin will lose it leaves in winter, all brambles do.
What is wrong with your blueberries is that they have had a very cold winter and therefore got Bacterial Blast. This is a secondary infection. We have had here also because the winter was so cold. You need to spray with copper, at least 2 applications 10 days apart. Why did you spray with Bravo and Guardall, these are both fungicides. And even more importantly why liquid sulphur? This will burn your plant. We know this is used to treat lichen.
I hope you are able to recover your blueberries and they are not too far gone.


Low Hedging
I was wondering could you recommend a Blueberry for Hedging? I live in the Kapiti region and am looking for hedging for my potager garden. I need to keep it clipped quite low, to no more than half a metre high(e.g. like buxus hedging)Any suggestions? I have a couple of your powder blue varieties doing quite well, however I think they will eventually grow quite tall.

Blueberry Muffin only grows 60cm x 60cm. I have attached an info sheet for you. Also check out the website for more information, www.edible.co.nz.


Died in Pot
Can you help me? I have had a blueberry tree in a pot which one minute was doing very well and the next dead. When I took it out of the pot there is almost a moss all around it. Before I plant my new one of yours which I bought yesterday what should I do?

Could you please explain a little more? When you removed the dead plant was the soil moist or very wet? Does it look like the roots have rooted or dried out? Where was the moss, on the plant, around the pot? How did it start dying, where was the first dead material on plant?
When you go to plant your new blueberry in the pot make sure the pot is big enough to house the size of the plant you are planting. To plant a 3L pot brought from garden centre, plant in a 50cm diameter container with good quality container mix. Make sure it gets regular water, set up on a sprinkler system is ideal. Feed little and often.
I hope this helps.


Dropping Leaves
My Blue Dawn which I planted 7/8 mths ago is dropping its leaves and not looking well. I live in Rotorua so we get some pretty cold nights and I was wondering if this blueberry is frost tender. It is planted alongside a Blueberry Selection (Waimea Orchards) which is still very healthy. It gets a little bit of sun in the winter, mostly morning. I am also not sure what and when I should be feeding it. Being a fairly novice gardener, I would appreciate your help please.

You should feed with citrus fertilizer in spring when growth starts. Plants are shutting down now that is why it is loosing some leaves. All blueberries are different and not all loose their leaves.


Small Fruit
Hi , I purchased about 30 blue dawn takahe blueberry plants as primarily a hedge about two years ago from you.
The first year of fruiting I took off the budding fruit. This year I left the fruit on . But was disappointed with the size of the fruit. BUT plenty of fruit though it seems.
First off when the fruit ripened as they still are, they aren’t much bigger than black currants . They are no way the size of a real blueberry. About half the size. Yet the plants are growing and look good . I have fertilised them with citrus fert every month or so and watered them every second day throughout the summer I would water about 10lts each plant . I have put pea straw around the base of each plant and have soaker hose around them to get further water.
At first I thought I had black currant plants but the fruit seem to taste like blueberries.
Also when they turn blackish they don't swell up like as if they are ripening . When picked they will ripen further but are very small to the blueberries you purchase in a store. Thing is which is in my favour they are that small the birds haven’t seen them.
Can you suggest anything?
Maybe they will get bigger every year , or is there a lack of some element. Because the fruit is small it may be that the plants are not doing as well as they should be.
The plants are about 600mm high.

Thank you for your email, it is in great detail.
In the first few years of being planted it is a good idea to thin the fruit so the plant can become well established in the roots and foliage. Leaving a few fruit on will let you have a taste and these should grow to the right size.
Looks like you are being too kind to your plant. Too much food and water. With the fertiliser, use Azalea fertiliser once in the spring. With the water, the plants do need regular water to swell fruit from blossom to harvest but 10L every second day sounds a lot.
Mulch your plant to conserve water and suppress weeds.
I hope this helps.

 


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