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Marielena Marielena studies agricultural and environmental sciences. She gardens at home and at an allotment and likes to try out new things.

Cutting blueberries: A guide

Blueberry bush & bilberry bush: an overview

Blueberries and bilberries are simply different trivial names for different species from the blueberry genus (Vaccinium). However, they are usually used as synonyms, which makes it difficult to differentiate between them. Strictly speaking, only varieties with the botanical name Vaccinium myrtillus count as blueberries and bilberries.

Pruning blueberry bushes: Good reasons

  • Strong, young shoots give you a richer harvest. By shortening old, weak and overly dense shoots, you give your plant more strength for fruiting - You encourage the formation of new shoots and keep your blueberry bush in shape - The more shoots there are on your plant, the longer it will take for your fruit to ripen Young shoots produce ripe fruit more quickly - More space inside your plants provides more light and good air circulation, which is important for preventing diseases and for your fruit.

Cutting back blueberries: The right time

Blueberries do not need pruning for the first three years after planting. In the fourth year, you can then start pruning annually. However, some gardeners only prune their blueberries every few years. Regardless of the timing, however, diseased or pest-infested branches should always be removed as quickly as possible. You should only prune your blueberries on frost-free and preferably dry days, as otherwise the plant can be damaged or diseases can penetrate more easily.

When to cut blueberries?

You can prune blueberries in spring in February or March or in late fall as soon as the plant has lost its leaves. This is when the plant is dormant and can cope better with pruning. It is also easier to keep the shoots of your plant apart. If you want to take cuttings, it is best to prune your plant in the fall, as cuttings are usually planted at this time and therefore have time to establish themselves in the bed before the new season.

Pruning blueberry bushes & blueberry bushes correctly: What you should keep in mind

When cutting, your scissors should always be clean and sharp so that the cut is clean. This way, diseases have less surface area to penetrate. As wild blueberries, unlike cultivated blueberries, are not bred for yield, they are less sensitive to the absence of pruning. Only topiary and the removal of diseased, old and heavily woody shoots is always advisable.

Cutting cultivated blueberries

  • Leave 2 - 3 two-, three- and four-year-old branches on the shrub. They should not be too close together and preferably grow in different directions. 3 - 5 one-year-old young shoots that have sufficient distance to other branches (approx. 10 cm) are also left behind. 5 - 10 cm stubs with a few eyes can be left behind on a few old shoots. All remaining shoots, especially weak, too closely spaced and excess shoots, are cut off cleanly without leaving long stubs.

Radical pruning of blueberries?

Radical pruning is generally rarely necessary. If you prune your blueberries regularly every year, your shrub will renew itself automatically. However, if you inherit an old blueberry bush, it may be necessary to cut it back radically once to encourage the growth of new branches. For a radical pruning, all shoots are cut back to the ground (but at least to 30 cm) so that the formation of new shoots is stimulated. Over the next two years, the bush needs time and energy to develop new branches, so that the shrub will only produce a harvest again in the third year.

Propagate blueberries/blueberries: Grow your own blueberries

If you want to propagate your blueberries, you can do this very easily by cutting them. Young, healthy, cut shoots can be planted as cuttings. However, you can also create cuttings, which you can cut off from the mother plant and transplant once they have grown and taken root. Blueberries can also be propagated by seed. Propagation via cuttings is usually the most successful.

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Marielena Marielena studies agricultural and environmental sciences. She gardens at home and at an allotment and likes to try out new things.