Blueberries for Edible Landscaping

Blueberries for Edible Landscaping

As I walked through the nursery today I was struck once again at how lovely the blueberries bushes are. Why aren’t these used more as general landscape plants? Those who have space might have a special blueberry patch, and some choose to plant them alongside or in back of a vegetable garden. But high-bush blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum) are perfect in the general landscape as well. Blueberry bushes have pretty bark, great fall color and sweet, bell shaped flowers in early spring. The fruit is attractive as it develops, and ripe berries are one of the “super foods” that are healthy as well as delicious.

Plant these shrubs where they can grow to be about 6′ tall and wide. For best berry production they should be pruned in the early spring using the following approach:

1. First look at the lower stems and identify those that are larger, grayer and obviously older. On younger plants that have been in the landscape three to five years, cut at least one of these stems down to a foot tall. On older plants or shrubs that have more than three such trunks prune at least two of these stems way down. Don’t chicken out! This removal of some older growth every year will stimulate new growth that will be more productive.
2. Next look for any deadwood and cut that away.
3. Finally, look for crossed branches and remove one of them by following it back to where it joins another stem and cutting there, leaving a half inch stump.
4. At this point you can either stop or clip off the tips of any tall, skinny stems to encourage them to bush out.
5. Blueberries do not get pruned by shearing the top growth – do not think of pruning these plants to either control size or turn them into green meatballs – these are shrubs that look and perform best when allowed to take on a natural shape and fullness.

The soft blue-green color of the developing berries is attractive in itself. Blueberry bushes make great edible landscaping plants.

The soft blue-green color of the developing berries is attractive in itself. Blueberry bushes make great edible landscaping plants.

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