Blueberries (Vaccinium spp.) provide green leaves and juicy, sweet blue fruits that can be harvested starting mid-summer. Thriving in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 3 through 7, blueberry bushes grow best in full sun and acidic soil. If a blueberry bush has become unwieldy -- too large -- or if it could benefit from a better growing location, transplant the bush. Do so while the plant is dormant for optimal results.
Timing and Location
The dormant season is the best time to transplant in-ground and container blueberry bushes. Depending on your location, this ranges from early November to early March. Once new growth has appeared, the plant is no longer dormant. Hard frosts are not ideal times for transplanting because it is difficult for the plant to re-establish itself once moved as the ground is still frozen.
Choose the new location with care, ensuring no buildings or large trees or plants -- once in bloom -- will block sunlight to the bush. Similarly, ensure nearby plants will thrive in acidic soil.
Since blueberry bushes enjoy acidic soil, amend the soil by mixing 1 cubic foot of peat moss with 1 cubic foot of un-limed sand, such as builders sand. If the soil is clay-heavy, place the peat moss and sand mix onto the soil surface. If the soil drains well, mix half the sand and peat moss blend into the soil, several inches below the surface, saving the rest to mound on top at the base of the plant.
Because blueberry bushes enjoy nutrient-rich soil, amend the growing area with rotted softwood sawdust, composted pine bark or more peat most. Add the amendments the fall before an early-spring transplant. In addition to improving structure and nutrition, these additions will also help lower soil pH. Spread 4 to 6 inches over an 18- to 24-inch-wide area and mix with the soil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches.
Removing and Replanting
For in-ground plants, dig around the border of the plant’s foliage, near the edge of the roots. Blueberry bush roots are shallow and fibrous, so you may need to dig wider and less deeply. You will likely not have to dig deeper than 1 foot for an in-ground blueberry bush. Slowly loosen the plant’s roots from the soil in a pancake-like shape. If you can’t replant the blueberry bush straightaway, wrap the rootball in a plastic bag to prevent it from drying out.
For container blueberry bushes, simply tilt the blueberry bush sideways, gently sliding off the container. Do not dig out the plant. Wear long sleeves and, if you like, garden gloves, to prevent being pricked by the blueberry bush's thorns.
Caring in Early Stages
Transplant the blueberry bush into a hole two to three times wider than the bush, and about two-thirds as deep as the rootball. Space bushes 5 feet apart. Fill in the hole with a mix of soil, peat moss and sand, and mound the remaining sand and peat moss blend around the base of the plant. Gently tap the soil in place until it is firm but not compacted. Give the bush a deep watering, thoroughly soaking the base.
Mulch the bush by spreading a 2- to 3-inch-thick layer of oak leaves, wood chips or sawdust around the base. For best air circulation, do not place mulch too close to the bottom of the plant; leave a ring of 2 inches around the entire base of the plant. Water blueberry buses once a week for an hour if there is no rain in the immediate forecast. In very dry weather, water blueberry transplants for two hours at a time every three days.