Saturday 25 August 2012

Pruning the Blueberries

My 5 potted Blueberry plants gave me a good crop this year - about 1kg of delicious berries. Actually, this amount came from only 4 plants, because the fifth one is still tiny and was acquired only in April this year. Nevertheless, I think I could do better. The 4 mature plants had gone very "gangly" - tall and top-heavy - so I thought it was time to prune them. I have chosen to do this now, immediately after their fruiting season has finished, so that they have a chance to produce some new growth before the Autumn sets in.

Each of the big plants (which must be about 5 or 6 years old now - I can't really remember), had several thick woody stems which were bare down below but bushy up above, like this:

I decided to remove most of the old stems. So, out with the long-handled Pruners... Five minutes later, this is what they looked like:

I left in place all the young pliable stems, but I removed most of the woody ones.

Two of the plants didn't have any young stems coming out of the base of the plant; only bushy growth at the top of some very thick old wood, so I removed most of the old stems, leaving one or two behind. If new basal growth appears, I will remove the last of the woody stems next year.

I also trimmed the bushy growth at the top of these old branches. I expect more new shoots will soon appear.

In order not to put the plants under too much stress I am being very careful to keep their compost moist, and I have placed their pots in pot-saucers to minimise water loss.

I'm not sure whether this is the "approved" method of pruning Blueberries, but it's what feels right to me. I'll let you know how things go.


  1. I've never pruned my blueberries yet, they're about four year old so I've probably got a couple of years to go before they're at the same stage as yours. I'm getting a decent crop this year, they must approve of the weather.

  2. I'd love to try and grow blueberries but am not sure they would survive our heat! They're one of my favourite fruits (I make blueberry ice cream) but I have to use frozen berries sadly.... lol xxx

  3. I pruned my blueberries last autumn this way as well. I felt really bad as they were so thick but now as we approach spring they are looking great and covered in flowers. I also watched a couple of you tube clips.

  4. From what I read you may have done well. What I read said to remove all the canes that were over 5 years old.
    My pink blueberries still look fine but the larger ones that I got from the flea market got some attention for some kind of caterpillar (I removed 4 of them from the 2 plants) that stripped them of all but the top two or three leaves on the highest stems :(

  5. I am reading everything about blueberries with interest at the moment having recently become the proud carer of two plants that are about to fruit, so thanks for this post. Have you ever tried to strike plants from the cuttings? Is it possible? Is there anyone out there who increases their plant numbers that way?

    1. I have never tried taking cuttings from Blueberry plants, but it sounds as if it ought to be possible. I increase my stock by sending off for the "Free - just pay P and P" ones that are advertised in magazines. That way you get a decent plant for only about £5.

  6. We have four blueberries planted on the plot but haven't had much fruit from them this year. So far we have resisted netting them and tried to get to the berries before the birds but this year we haven't visited the plot as often so I think the birds have had the edge. Note for next year - construct a cage around the blueberries - shame as they are really attractive ornamental plants too.

  7. I am tempted to increase my plants by an extra one, I have a free with pp paid though offer for a blueberry. I gave my two bushes a snip the other week as they seem big. I had a huge harvest this year. Netting the bushes really paid off.

  8. We just put in blueberries last year. We got a little crop this year. I'm hoping it improves next year.

  9. Still on the todo list! - get blueberry bushes. But where to put them?

  10. I love your faith and conviction Mark,
    I've got one plant and after reading an earlier post of yours about pruning the old wood, I went straight out and pruned mine...but I may have been a little too cautious. I didn't cut back to the same degree as you. The plant isn't that old so I'm thinking a little trim will be sufficient.
    I'm hoping I've done enough but we shall have to wait to see. There's buds appearing but we only offically enter spring next Saturday, so I may have some time to wait.
    If I get fruit you'll get to fact everyone will! :D

  11. I like blueberry and have just started growing them from seeds about 2 months ago. I know it is a challenging task growing from seeds especially in a tropical country (Malaysia). The height of my plants is about 3 inches tall. I am not too sure whether they will bear fruits in the future.


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