• Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • March garden tips & tasks

    If your fescue lawn looks a little skimpy, overseed early this month. Fescue grows best when the weather is still cool.

    Clip dead stems from perennial herbs – thyme, sage, lavender, rosemary. Pruning encourages vigorous new growth.

    Prune nandinas, flowering quince and other airy shrubs by reaching in and removing about a third of the branches at ground level.

    Remove mulch or leaves that may be covering perennials in garden beds.

    Prepare a new garden bed: Have the soil tested (check with your county’s Extension service). Remove grass and dig or till soil 8 to 10 inches deep and mix with soil amendments and organic matter to improve drainage.

    Add fertilizer lightly to perennials as soon as you see new growth. Too much fertilizer may result in lanky growth.

    Herb transplants that don’t mind cool weather -- parsley, cilantro, sage, oregano – can go in the ground now.

    When you cut daffodils to bring inside, cut the stems at an angle and place them in water right away. Change the water in the vase daily to keep them fresh longer.

    Save the date - Middle Tennessee garden events

    The Perennial Plant Society's annual Plant Sale will be April 8, opening at 9 a.m. at The Fairgrounds Nashville. The sale offers newly released and hard-to-find perennials from top local nurseries -- more than 450 varieties of perennials, vines, grasses, shrubs and annuals. The event supports local scholarships for Tennessee horticulture students and monthly gardening programs, open to the public, at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens. For information visit www.ppsmtn.org.

    The Herb Society of Nashville's annual Herb Sale will be April 29, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. at The Fairgrounds Nashville. The sale will offer heirloom vegetables, rare varieties of perennial and annual herbs, handmade pottery herb markers and more. To learn more, visit herbsocietynashville.org.

  • Categories

  • Archives

Grow the best blueberry bushes

QUESTION: I have had blueberry bushes for 2 years and they still look awful. I’ve been told to put coffee grounds around them but they don’t grow or produce fruit.  We have them in a bed with some calla lilies which are doing very well. The plants were healthy plants from the co-op.  I have a friend in Clarksville that has lush bushes with lots of fruit.  I asked if they did anything special and she said “no”.  Any tips to help us would be appreciated. — Karen in Donelson

Blueberries need sun, water and the proper soil pH to produce a good crop.

Blueberries are pretty finicky about what they need to grow well and produce, so I’ll let you know what those needs are, and you can decide if they’re getting what they require.

Do you know what the variety of your plants? Different types are adapted for different regions, and in Middle Tennessee, the varieties called rabbiteye and southern highbush blueberries are the most reliable choices.

Furthermore, they are not always self-fertile, which means you need more than one variety for cross-pollination to take place (and the insects buzzing around to pollinate them at the right time).

Now, the soil. Blueberries require acid soil, with a pH level of 4.5 to 5.6, so if you don’t have that information, have the soil tested. Coffee grounds are acidic, and that’s why the addition of coffee grounds may have been suggested. The fact that the calla lilies are doing well suggests that the pH might be part of the problem; they grow better in soil that is more alkaline. Blueberries also require soil that is well-drained, so make sure they’re planted in a place that doesn’t stay wet.

They need full sun, and they don’t like to compete with grass and weeds, so mulch around them with shredded bark or compost to keep weeds under control. They also suffer during times of drought because of their shallow roots, so make sure they get sufficient water (about once a week in dry weather, suggests garden expert Felder Rushing in his book, Guide to Tennessee Vegetable Gardening).

Blueberry bushes benefit from the same type of fertilizer as azaleas (which also need acid soil to grow well). Apply fertilizer, following label directions, in the spring.

Your friend who has lush bushes and lots of fruit may not be doing anything special, but it sounds like her plants are the right type for the area, in soil they like, and are getting plenty of sun and enough water. With a little more care and attention, yours may also re-gain their health.

 

Advertisements

One Response

  1. I replaced my boxwood hedges this year with blueberries. My husband suggested mulching with peat moss, which I’ve done, and seems to be working (peat moss is higher acid). My mother also advised me to remove all blossoms this year and next year if I could do it, so the plants will put that energy into developing roots versus fruit. Thus far, they are looking good and growing well. I’ve also watered them for an hour or so weekly with a soaker hose when it’s dry (which has been a lot this year).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: