Now that you have chosen your blueberry plants, we should prepare your soil and installation plan for your shrubs. These popular fruits are easy to care for if you give them a well-prepared home to start. After your initial soil adjustments, you can easily fine-tune your garden area each year for optimum growth and berry production. Home garden soil test kits can be a useful tool in evaluating and preparing your soil before you plant your blueberries. These test kits can give you information about the pH and nutrient levels in your garden.
Best Soil Type
The best soil type for blueberry plants is a mixture of sand, silt, clay and organics. You may hear gardeners refer to this type of soil as a loam. If your garden soil is not a loam, you can add organic matter to make it more suitable for your plants. Blueberries like soil with at least two to three percent organics. Approximately two inches of organic matter, such as peat moss, worked into your soil before you plant, should be sufficient.
For blueberry plants to grow efficiently and produce plump, juicy berries the soil must drain well and at the same time retain enough moisture and nutrients to fuel growth. Therefore, you should construct your garden in an area that does not produce standing water during a rain storm. Blueberry roots are very shallow and will die in boggy areas. If your property does not have a suitable location for your shrubs you can plant your blueberries in large pots or construct a raised garden bed, which will increase the drainage and allow you to use the best soil type available for your shrubs.
pH Level in Soil
Soil pH of four to five is best for blueberry shrubs. If your soil in either above or below the pH range, you can adjust the pH to bring the soil to within the preferred range. Lime will raise the soil pH and elemental sulfur will lower the pH. The manufacturer or the lime or sulfur will provide guidelines that you can follow to make sure that the pH adjusts between four and five. Sometimes it takes months for the pH to adjust so start your soil amendment early.
Nutrient Levels in Soil
Phosphorous, nitrogen and potassium are the necessary nutrients for blueberry plants to grow. Phosphorous encourages early development while nitrogen helps the plants to sustain long-term growth rates. If you have issues with high pH and low nutrient levels, an acidic fertilizer will help you combat both problems at once. The potassium helps the berries to ripen on the shrub. You should follow the manufacturer’s recommended application rates to ensure that you apply enough, but not too much to the plants.
Now you have a game plan for developing great garden soil for your blueberry shrubs. Take your time to test and amend your soil properly and your plants will thank you with large, juicy fruit for years to come!