How to Prune Blueberries
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Blueberries are fantastic and easy plants to grow, but they do need occasional pruning! Dwarf, full sized, evergreen, and deciduous blueberries all require structural maintenance to improve the health, growth, and fruit quality.
Using Blueberry Burst® and Blueberry Kisses® as our example varieties, we will navigate you through the 5 basic steps to pruning blueberries!
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Prune blueberries after they have finished fruiting. For Blueberry Burst®, this will be any time between November-February depending on where you live, and the individual plant. For Blueberry Kisses®, you could be pruning any time from December to March!
In the hottest months, you may notice some sunburning of older leaves. If new growth continues to come in, you don’t need to worry about the sunburnt leaves.
Remove the deadwood, suckers, and low branches
Focus on cutting out dead, diseased, or damaged branches first. Look for branches with no leaves or discolored bark.
Suckers appear from the ground and compete with the main plant for water and nutrients. Trim suckers back so that they’re level with the potting mix.
Remove low hanging branches, especially those touching the ground.
Thin older wood
Aim to remove 1/4 to 1/3 of the oldest, thickest wood. Prioritize wood over 4 years old or those growing inwards or rubbing against others.
An example of older wood removed during pruning.
Shorten healthy wood
Trim back healthy wood by about 1/3 to encourage new growth and fruit production on lower branches. Cut just above a bud facing outwards.
Shortening healthy wood to an outward facing bud encourages branching and more fruiting wood.
Keep it clean
Use sharp, clean secateurs to avoid damaging the plant and introducing diseases.
When you suspect you have a diseased plant, sterilize blades between cuts and plants to prevent disease spread.
- Remember, the goal is to open the canopy for better light penetration and air circulation, promoting healthy growth and larger berries.
- Mulching and watering with seaweed after pruning will assist plant recovery.