Skip to content. Young plants require little pruning for the first two to three years. In North Carolina, this translates to February or early March. Your first pruning comes at planting time. His farm is located in Northwest Arkansas. This inhibits the fruit from developing. They can also form fruit buds on the second flush growth produced later in the summer, at the tips of strong shoots. Remove all of the previous year's new canes except two or three. Our growing season is long enough that we can prune blueberries soon after harvest (by the end of July, as a rule of thumb), and the plants will have time to set flower buds (from which fruit develop) for the next year on shoots that grow after pruning. Prune out all the dead, diseased wood. In fact learning how to prune blueberry bushes is a fairly simple process. Prune overly vigorous branches back in line. Azaleas bloom on growth produced in the previous season, so this gives the plant time to put out new growth and for flower buds to form on the new growth, so that the plant will bloom the following year. The amount of new growth that the plants put out after they’re pruned will depend to some extent on their vigor and the fertility of the soil, but as a general guideline, cut them to about one foot lower than the maximum height at which you want to pick berries next year. Prune in winter to encourage good growth in spring and summer. This brief publication gives a few helpful hints to get started. [2] X Research source Fruit of the blueberry is borne on wood produced in the previous season (one-year-old wood). Mainly, I am unsure how to do it correctly most of the time and don’t want to kill my plants. Blueberry bushes offer such richness to our gardens, and it’s easy to see why they’re so popular. Printable PDF Click on images to see larger view Annual pruning of mature blueberry plants is necessary if you want to keep them productive. [1] X Research source Blueberries only grow on branches that are at least one year old. The best time to prune your blueberry bushes is in the late winter or early spring. Sterilize your blades with household disinfectant before and after each bush to prevent the spread of disease. Prune as you would in previous years, and remove low, shaded branches or any that would drag on the ground with fruit. If you're like us, the answer for when to prune blueberries (in Washington State) would be mid-January through the first part of … Then remove any low branches that will touch the ground when fruit-laden. Growing blueberries (Vaccinium spp.) While it’s not absolutely necessary to prune blueberry plants every year, reducing their height can make them easier to pick. Fruit is borne on one-year wood. When it comes to selecting blueberries for the home garden, rabbiteye types are the best choice. Hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 10, depending on variety, blueberries form flower buds for the next year's crop during that time. Pruning Young Blueberry Plants . Blueberries require constant renewal growth of vigorous, 1-year-old wood to sustainably produce good berries year-to-year. For trimming blueberry bushes, you should remove any lower growth to prevent fruits from settling on the ground. Eric Stafne, Extension fruit and nut specialist, says there are a few different ways to prune blueberries, depending on what you want to achieve with your plants. This can be done after harvest, as well, or during the winter, when plants are dormant. While it’s not absolutely necessary to prune blueberry plants every year, reducing their height can make them easier to pick. Pruning is rarely needed in the first two years, just remove any crossing or misplaced branches. Pruning controls the crop to increase fruit quality. Blueberry Burst and Blueberry Kisses pruning can begin at the end of the first 12 months if plants have established well, as soon as fruiting is finished for the season. Leave fine, new, high growth and strong, healthy new canes. Blueberries produce fruit on canes that are young, strong and upright, rather than on older branches on the bush. ), simply prune off the top inch (2.5 cm.) While you are tip pruning, you can also prune off any diseased or dead canes. It also encourages well-established blueberry plants to put out new canes from the base. When pruning blueberries, you’ll want to allow light to penetrate the center of the plant. See Growing Blueberries in Your Home Garden for more information. This means any criss-crossing branches should be removed to allow for more sunlight and better air circulation. Blueberry Summer Pruning Demo. How to Prune Raspberries After Transplanting, University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources: Growing Blueberries in the Sacramento Region, University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Cooperative Extension: Growing Blueberries on the North Coast, Cornell University: Blueberry Pruning and Rejuvenation, University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources: Selecting Fruit, Nut and Berry Crops for Home Gardens in San Mateo and San Francisco Counties, How to Force Blueberry Bushes to Grow New Canes. You want to prune them when the fruit buds are showing. 225-578-4143 Proper training of blueberries is essential to maintain plant size, shape and productivity. Contact Mary Helen at mhferguson@agcenter.lsu.edu. The amount of wood cut out each year should be roughly 10 to 20% of the total wood present. Remove crossing stems and any crossing or particularly spindly-looking branches. Ryan conducted a demonstration of summer hedging Northern and Southern Highbush blueberries from 2017-2018. If possible, resist the urge to let the bush bear fruit. To keep them producing well, blueberry bushes need to be pruned every year. Remove all weak, twiglike growth at the base of your bushes. If you’re fine with pulling shoots down to reach berries at seven feet from the ground, you can cut them back to six feet. Jolene Hansen is a lifelong gardening enthusiast and former horticulture professional. web@agcenter.lsu.edu, 106 Martin D. Woodin Hall If you live further south, I recommend the earlier pruning time. With a little preparation and some patience, these radiant plants can be garden showstoppers. in your garden can mean fresh breakfast berries -- if those bushes remain healthy and productive. https://homeguides.sfgate.com/can-prune-blueberries-summer-90613.html Know where blueberry bushes produce fruit. Skillful pruning requires experience and growers generally develop their own style which may be slightly different from their neighbor's, but should accomplish the same objectives. This means flowers that bloom this spring were set last summer … Avoid pruning after your harvest in summer and fall. Blueberry bushes produce flower buds the year prior to flowering. It's also best to prune on a dry day. Remove all but two or three of the previous year's new canes, and prune back plant tips. For more information, see Bulletin #2253 Growing Highbush Blueberries. Besides reducing plant height after harvest for ease of picking, the other major step to pruning mature rabbiteye blueberry plants is to remove one to three of the oldest canes. Pruning mature blueberry plants: remove weak, low-growing shoots (1) thin the crown of the plant by cutting out about 20 percent of the canes each year (2) head new, vigorous canes to about 4 to 6 inches below the top of the bush (3) 1 2} Excessive fruit set results in smaller, poorer-quality Prune all branches back by about 30%–40% to encourage vigorous new growth. With dormant pruning, canes are seen clearly and large flower buds stand out on one-year wood. Leave only strong, vital branches from the base. CUTTING THE BLUEBERRY WHILE IT'S SLEEPING Pruning tall blueberries always causes. Prune blueberry bushes to ensure healthy crops. Improper pruning can eliminate berries and limit future harvests. Planting and growing vegetables and fruits, caring for the garden, building and repairing villas - all with their own hands. An outline of pruning methods with general care of blueberry plants is available in an OSU Extension Service's circular "Growing Blueberries in Your Home Garden," (EC 1304), available free of charge online, or you can purchase a copy for $1.50 plus shipping and handling. Avoid leaving stubs as they can rot and lead to disease. Look for canes that are roughly one inch or more in diameter at the base and cut them close to the ground. Here is a guest post from Benton County Agent and Blueberry Grower Ryan Neal. As many of you are aware, it’s customary to prune azaleas, if needed, soon after flowering. Young blueberry bushes are usually planted in late winter while fully dormant and leafless. Remove any dead, diseased or injured wood at its base. A similar approach can be taken with blueberries. After the third year, a mature cultivated blueberry plant has 15-18 canes which originate from the crown. Prune too much, you'll have lots of growth and large, but few, fruit. This can be done by rubbing buds off by hand or pruning back the tips. Blueberry: Pruning Techniques. The best time of year to prune blueberries is in late winter or early spring. In the third year, remove low-lying branches near the ground. The tidy-up comes first. An added benefit of pruning blueberry plants after harvest is that flower buds on vigorous shoots put out in the summer tend to break later, during the following year, than flower buds on less vigorous growth produced earlier in the season. In This species i… Healthy, well-pruned blueberries will bear reliable, bountiful crops for many breakfasts to come. During the first year of establishment, do not allow the bush to bear fruit. 225-578-4161 Sharp bypass pruners handle the job. Some varieties are finished or almost finished fruiting by now. In blueberries, summer is the time to prune bushes to reduce height, if needed, to make picking easier the following year. She is passionate about reshaping the way people experience gardens and gardening. For the first 4 years or so after planting, there is no need to prune blueberry bushes. or so of the cane. © Copyright 2020 Hearst Communications, Inc. Annual pruning, properly timed, is essential to successful blueberry crops. Remove any diseased or broken wood, plus crossing branches. Pruning has long been recognized as a beneficial cultural practice in blueberry growing. Blueberries grow on the side-shoots, off of the main branches of the bushes. The thicker and later-developing shoots tend to produce fewer fruit buds than those which stop growing earlier in the season. Baton Rouge, LA 70803 Remove the fat fruit buds the first year to force vegetative growth and help the root system get established. Ideally, a balance of branches aged from one to five should compose each bush. With a little effort, these "wonder berries" can be produced by home gardeners throughout Georgia. The most common blueberry bushes are highbush and southern highbush, which can grow from 6 to 8 feet tall. Any pruning of blueberry bushes, especially mature bushes, is required for successful production of blueberries. Blueberries fruit on short sideshoots produced during spring or early summer of the previous year. The amount of new growth that the plants put out after they’re pruned will depend to some extent on their vigor and the fertility of the soil, but as a general guideline, cut them to about one foot lower than the maximum height at which you want to pick berries next year. To get the most from your bushes, it's really important to give them a prune each year - do it in February or March, before the plant gets busy growing. This doesn’t work in all areas of the country, but in Louisiana we have a long enough growing season that we can prune blueberries after harvest and get regrowth and flower bud development on that new growth. Pruning is a task I put off, and my blueberry bushes serve as a testament to this fact. Remove all flowers to prevent fruiting and to keep plant resources focused on healthy stems and roots. Pruning and training. (Photo source: Scott NeSmith, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org), The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture, 101 Efferson Hall Each year, remove one or two of the oldest canes all the way back to the ground. Wear gloves, long sleeves and protective eyewear whenever pruning. If your bushes have never been trimmed, be careful not to go overboard the first year: Remove no more than two or three of the oldest canes (more than seven years old). In year two, continue to remove weak, twiggy base growth. The best time to prune a mature gooseberry bush is in late winter or early spring when the plant is dormant, just before the vigorous growth of spring when healing will be quick. For the first two years flower buds should be removed either by rubbing them off or by cutting off the tips of shoots. Baton Rouge, LA 70803, aha' rabbiteye blueberry. At planting. We want blueberry plants to produce new canes, since older growth tends to become less fruitful over time. Highbush blueberry plants can live for many decades; but early in their life, they don’t need much pruning. Pruning young bushes. Remove any dead or damaged branches. Blueberries that are not pruned develop branches that are crowded and intertwined. You must prune the bushes so that they provide enough new growth for blueberry production next year. So, when winter pruning, growers should look beyond just the next summer crop and envision what wood will give them good growth — key to having flower buds and high-quality fruit the following summer. Prune plants in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. Hansen's work appears regularly in consumer and trade publications, as well as numerous internet gardening and lifestyle channels. Pruning an Older Blueberry Bush. Continue to remove the flowers and prevent fruit for the second year. If the canes are shorter than 24 inches (61 cm. Prune blueberries in late winter and early spring, when plants are dormant. From then on, pruning is needed to stimulate growth of the new shoots that will bear fruit the following season. Blueberries are becoming increasingly popular due to their delicious and healthy fruit. Most blueberry bushes grown in home landscapes are upright, multi-stemmed deciduous bushes. Unlike some roses and hydrangeas, blueberry bushes don’t need to be pruned down to the ground. Removing some of the oldest canes each year allows more light into the bush so that fruit isn’t just produced on the outside of the canopy. A site about a garden, a summer residence and house plants. From four years on, remove unproductive stems to stimulate new growth. During the first year, flower buds are removed by pruning, or by stripping off flowers by hand after the blooms emerge. This means that in years in which we have a late freeze – as we did this year – it’s less likely that flowers on these shoots will be injured by low temperatures. Branches over four years may have a smaller crop. Upright blueberry shrubs tend to become dense in the center causing shading. Pruning helps to maintain a good shape and size so that the plant is productive. 'Alapaha' rabbiteye blueberry. Blueberries are slow to establish taking 2-3 years to take hold and even longer to … When Do I Prune Gooseberries & Blueberries? (Photo source: Scott NeSmith, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org). Blueberries have a shallow, spreading root system and suckers can sprout up some distance from the bush. Prune too little, growth will be weak and foster small fruit. Knowing when and how to prune helps establish your blueberries to bear abundant, quality fruit for many years. Pruning in summer and fall, before buds are visible to the eye, sacrifices next year's fruit. Among other things, they are high in antioxidants, have anti-aging activity, promote healthy urinary tracts, improve vision and help fight heart disease. by Ryan Neal - November 12, 2018. With a little care, your blueberry plants will continue to produce abundant crops of delicious, healthy blueberries for many years. Heavy pruning causes thicker and more leafy shoots than light pruning. Why Prune Blueberries. No matter which type of blueberry bushes you have, they all need yearly pruning to manage their height and shape. Late pruning also stimulates new growth that leaves bushes vulnerable to winter cold damage. Cut … To do tip blackberry pruning, use a sharp, clean pair of pruning shears and cut back the blackberry canes to about 24 inches (61 cm.). 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