Ask an Expert is made up of groups and individual experts. Repeat every other year. Blueberry bushes grow best when the soil pH is between 4.5 and 5. Blueberries like a pH around 4.5 to 5.5. Tip #7: Provide adequate moisture. Provider sufficient moisture. You can also mulch your plants with straw or wrap them in burlap. Bark mulch, acid compost, sawdust, grass clippings, etc. When the plants are mature (after 8 years in the ground) you may have a total of 6 inches of "mulch" but 3 inches or so will be relatively new/fresh mulch and the rest will be decomposed organic material (a good thing for blueberries).There are a considerable number of options for mulching blueberries. Pile the mulch evenly until it is 3 to 4 inches deep. There are a considerable number of options for mulching blueberries. … May, June—Apply mulch for growing season. Blueberry plants grow best in an acid soil (pH 4.5 to 5.5) and like high organic matter. In this case you would need to put drip irrigation under the weed mat to ensure plants can get enough irrigation water in summer. I understand that pine bark mulch is preferred for blueberries, but it is impossible to obtain in this part of California. Now back to the topic of this article — acidifying the soil. Commonly used materials in Michigan are sawdust, bark mulch, wood chips (often from grinding up trees and shrubs). Note that if you use a material like wood chips, you will need to watch the plants carefully as adding a more woody mulch like chips to the soil surface means you'll have to add more nitrogen fertilizer (these products take a longer time to break down and the bacteria that break down these materials use nitrogen meaning the plants have less available for their growth). The pH of douglas fir sawdust is about 4.2. Add a mulch of straw around the top of the pots to reduce the chance of the potting medium freezing. If you add 3 inches deep mulch made solely of composted manure or yard compost, the pH will be too high for good blueberry growth. One speaker I listened to said not to put the mulch up the canes. Apply pine needles evenly around the blueberry plants, allowing a 4 to 6 in deep layer of.pine mulch. I do recommend putting this mulch (only about 2 to 3 inches deep) totally around the plant. This is much more of a problem if you incorporate the sawdust directly into the soil than if you use it as a mulch, but even with … Blueberries have dense, shallow roots and do best with 2-4 inches of mulch over the roots to conserve moisture, prevent weeds and build organic matter. There are other low pH mulch options including bark mulch (a great option), wood chips, and pine needles -- all have a relatively low pH. The mulch decomposes over time so every couple of years add another 2 to 3 inches of mulch. I plan to use this as my basic soil: (pH 6-6.5) 30% Native Screened Sandy Loam 40% Garden Compost 5% Power Mulch 5% Mushroom Compost 20% Horticultural Pumice. Like most plants, blueberries prefer about 1-2-inch water a week. Spread the mulch 4-6 inches thick around the plant and out to the drip line. Some people who put sawdust down as mulch in their garden shave noticed a decline in their plants health, leading them to believe that sawdust is toxic to plants. Mulch well. Mulch should be loose enough for water percolation. I realize that mulch should not be put up onto tree trunks, but I do not think the same is true for blueberries. over perennial beds. Blueberries will not need to be pruned much, if at all, over their first couple of years. Lignin is an important structural component in vascular tissue and provides rigidity in plant materials especially in wood and bark. Even you are going to use sulfur apply that under the mulch. The first (and most prevalent) reason I found on the endless pipeline of info that is the Internet, was that the pine needles are an organic way to lower the pH (raise the acidity) of the soil. Mulch should be 4 inches to 6 inches deep and cover a 4-foot band of soil centered on a blueberry plant row. The objectives of organic mulches such as douglas fir sawdust are to add organic matter to the soil over time, help conserve soil moisture, moderate soil temperatures and help control annual weeds. If you're planning on having multiple rows of blueberries, make sure the rows are spaced 8-10 feet apart for ease of maintenance. Sawdust should be aged a year before it is used. After your blueberries are planted, all you have to do is mulch the plants and water well for the next few weeks so the roots can establish themselves. I want to make sure I lay down the best mulch for berries and grapes.. I was wondering if anyone has any knowledge or experience using spruce or cedar needles as mulch-they are plentiful on my yard. I sprinkle sulfur after leaf drop and then before bud break, but i have been using a pine mulch, but only because i thought it might help with PH. Blueberries have a primary root system without the fine root hairs found on most other plants. Blueberries are relatively easy to look after. Yes. The mulch should be flat in this area, not piled up higher around the plant. Plant your bushes directly into this medium. It also slows the decomposition process of plant materials so they do not rot easily. And is it possible for Professor Bernadine Strik to answer this question? The best mulch for blueberry plants is pine mulch or pine needles. September, October—Apply mulch for winter protection and enjoy fall color. I have heard conflicting information on how to mulch blueberries. Place a 3-inch depth of mulch around the base of the blueberry bushes and extend the mulch out approximately 2 feet from the center of the blueberry bushes. July through September—Apply soil amendments. In The Holistic Orchard, it is recommended that a pile of mulch is dumped annually, north side this year, the east side next year, and so on. Avoid black walnut if you can. You should not see a "volcano" of mulch around plants. Blueberries have shallow root systems, meaning they will dry out if a thick mulch isn’t used to protect from evaporation. You may opt to use any kind of mulch, but just refrain from using barnyard manure because of its high salt content. This is not the case. Use rhododendron azalea mix for your fertilizer. Raspberries are a versatile fruit that grows on bushes that can be planted for their fruit-bearing abilities and to create an attractive natural fence. Proper mulching of the blueberry shrubs will not only protect the root systems, but as it decomposes, it … April, May—Plant new blueberry bushes. Don’t allow it to dry out between waterings. July—Harvest. Ensure the soil stays at pH of 5.5 or lower, to avoid problems. Don’t pile mulch up against the stem of the plant. The mulching materials will do little to change the soil pH. Mulch for Blueberries. To use the dried leaves as mulch, spread them at a rate of 3 to 4 inches (7.5 to 10 cm.) Avoid using synthetic mulches like black plastic or landscape fabric. If your plants are still small I recommend replanting them.I recommend digging a hole about 2 feet wide and one foot deep and mixing that soil half and half with peat moss (about a bale per plant) if the soil is heavy mix in an equal part of clean coarse sand. Blueberries, like most plants, prefer 1-2 inches of water per week. The objectives of organic mulches such as douglas fir sawdust are to add organic matter to the soil over time, help conserve soil moisture, moderate soil temperatures and help control annual weeds. Because you are mulching heavily use a rate about twice the rate recommended. Repeat every other year. November, December—Put fencing around plants to keep out rabbits. Pruning Your Blueberries. I have seen commercial fields with mulch and they put it up all around the plant as well as up the canes. You may be shocked to only find between 1 and 2 in of pine needles left within 2 months! Blueberries need soil with a fairly low pH - lower than most other things I have growing in the garden. Ask an Expert is made up of groups and individual experts. Acidic soil is full of acid-loving bacteria that break down minerals to release iron, phosphates, and magnesium. Applying mulch can serve a number of different purposes -- the right mulch can enhance soil as well as cut down on the appearance of weeds. Finally do not fertilize after July 4. We use clean wood chips, but bark mulch, acid compost, pine needles or grass clippings all work well. This means that as it biodegrades, the process may draw nitrogen out of the soil and away from your plants roots, making them weaker. Avoid using dyed mulches (black or red). DO NOT mix manure or compost in the hole they are neutral or even alkaline and raise the soil pH. You can use a little bit (1/2 to 1 inch deep) of this type of product, but then you should put about 2 inches of bark or sawdust on top to avoid too high of a soil pH and poor blueberry growth. Bark O Mulch, acid compost, sawdust and grass clippings all work well. all work well. Hello,I do recommend starting new plantings with a mulch of about 2 inches to 3 inches deep covering the in-row area to about 4 ft wide or an area around a singly planted bush about 4 ft in diameter. Does it matter what kind of mulch I use at the base of the plant? I often recommend amending the planting hole if a homeowner wants to plant blueberries in neutral soils. The most effective mulch for blueberries is high in lignin and is acidic in nature. Three inches of pine mulch should be considered minimum coverage for mulching blueberries. Over the years, I’ve relied on shredded leaves, pine needles, and wood chips to mulch my blueberry patch. Finally another option for mulching is to put down some bark (about 1 to 2 inches) and then top this with weed mat or porous landscape fabric (black) -- this really helps minimize weed growth. 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