Blueberries offer year-round beauty to the garden, blooming attractive flowers in the spring, glossy green leaf foliage with luscious berries in the summer, colorful foliage ranging from crimson to yellow in the fall and red twigs in the winter. Most blueberry plants reach a height of 4 to 6 feet. Although most cultivars are self-fertilizing, they will bear more fruit in the presence of more than one variety of blueberry plant. Pennsylvania falls within USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 4 through 7, making it ideal for certain varieties of blueberry plants.
Things You'll Need
- Blueberry plants
- Soil test kit
- Organic materials (compost)
- Organic mulch
- Organic fertilizer
- Garden gloves
Select the most common blueberry varieties grown in Pennsylvania gardens for best results. According to the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences, the most common blueberry plant grown in Pennsylvania is the highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum). Popular cultivars of the highbush blueberry include the 'Blueray' and 'Bluecrop' plants, because Pennsylvania's USDA Plant Hardiness Zones and soil acidity matches the ideal growing conditions for these plants. 'Blueray' and 'Bluecrop' both grow well in Zones 4 through 7 and in soil with pH acidic values of 4.5 to 5.5.
Plant in the spring. Most areas in Pennsylvania have short growing seasons or about 100 days or less, except for the southeastern part of the state, which enjoys longer growing seasons. Pennsylvania spring weather is warm with frequent rain, so find a location in the landscape that receives full sun and has well-drained soil; this usually is a higher elevation in your yard or garden. Most soil in Pennsylvania is well-drained, except for regions on the eastern lakeshore, northwestern corner of the state, northeastern corner of the state and southwestern mountains.
Test the acidity level of the soil by purchasing a soil-test kit. If soil acidity level is below 4.5, add 1 to 2 inches of organic compost to the soil and mix with a garden tiller. Use sulfur to lower high pH content.
Dig a hole large enough to accommodate the root ball of the young blueberry plant. Place the plant inside the hole and cover the roots fully with soil. Plant the remaining bushes in the same manner, but keep the plants about eight to 10 rows apart, as they have little tolerance for crowding.
Apply about 4r inches of woodchip mulch or sawdust in a 2-foot-wide band to eliminate weeds and keep the soil moist. Maintain a 4-foot-wide band, 4 inches in depth, throughout the life of the plants.
Water often after planting and throughout the first few weeks to promote healthy root growth. Be patient; a bush typically takes three years to bear fruit. Add fertilizer once in the spring and once during late summer before the Pennsylvania cool fall weather kicks in.
Prune in the winter to promote new growth the following spring. Winter in Pennsylvania is a good time for pruning because the weather is cold and it is easy to remove dead or unhealthy sections of blueberry bushes. New blueberry buds form on second-year wood. As new growth is pruned, plant production is reduced for the following year, but keep in mind that pruning will lead to a healthy bush with fewer but larger berries. Simply remove all dead and diseased stems and branches and cut off a few stalks for bushy plants. Never cut away more than half of the new growth.