blueberry #612598 - Ask Extension

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blueberry #612598

Asked February 06, 2020, 12:18 PM EST

I have called several times. I get no response when I leave messages. I am purchasing blueberry bushes and I want to speak with someone that can answer my inept questions such as what kind of bushes should I plant in Maryland

Carroll County Maryland

Expert Response

We do not have a call-in phone number at this time - only email - so we're not sure what number you have been trying to reach us on. We do have pages on blueberry selection and cultivation, beginning here: https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/blueberries. Varieties most commonly grown in our area are Northern Highbush types, though some hybrids have entered the market in recent years. Area garden centers and their wholesale suppliers (especially local ones) also tend to offer primarily Northern Highbush selections. The choice of one cultivar over another depends on several factors - namely flavor preferences (some are more tart or sweet than others), mature size (though this is not a wide range), ripening season, and any other aesthetic differences such as fall foliage colors. Ripening variation can be used to full advantage when you plant several shrubs, as they can be early, mid-season, or late-ripening varieties and extend the harvest season. In addition, more than one cultivar should be used to ensure good pollination and fruit set, though they do not have to have the same ripening season.

Growers are finding that Southern Highbush types also do well in Maryland, but the nursery industry primarily still offers Northern Highbush and its hybrids. You may be able to source uncommon types online from suppliers who specialize in fruit and vegetable plants. You could also ask any area pick-your-own farms which varieties do well for them that they would recommend to home gardeners.

Now is a good time of year to have a soil test done if you haven't already. Knowing the pH and other nutrient levels can help determine if any soil prep. needs to be done in spring before planting. Blueberries prosper in lower soil pH than most gardeners will have, but they can tolerate higher levels if their other needs are met well. Alternatively, you could create a raised bed for them in a site where the soil is less than ideal. Full sun and well-drained soil allow plants to prosper and devote a lot of resources to berry production. Information on soil testing and what area labs offer such services can be found here: https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/soil-testing.

Spacing between shrubs depends on the variety chosen, but many area farms will space them far enough apart so that mature plants barely overlap each other. For larger blueberries, this may be around 4-5' between the centers of each plant.

Miri

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