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Getting Blueberries from Blueberry Plants

I planted a blueberry bush last spring but it never bore blueberries. What might have been the problem and what should I do this year?

Question: I planted a blueberry bush last spring but it never bore fruit. It looked healthy otherwise. What might have been the problem and what should I do this year?


Answer: It's possible that your blueberry plant produced and ripened berries, but that birds got to them before you did. Here's an article on growing blueberries and protecting them from birds.

It could be that you planted a blueberry variety that is not self-pollinating, or that pollination was insufficient. For the best results, plant more than one blueberry plant, of more than one variety, within 100 feet of each other. This will make it easy for bees to cross-pollinate the blueberry plants. Planting more than one variety is essential for blueberry plants that are not self-pollinating. However, even blueberry plants that can self-pollinate benefit from companions of a different variety, producing larger and more plentiful blueberries.

Another cause may have been a lack of new growth on the blueberry plant. This is a common cause for mature blueberry plants not bearing blueberries; they may have one high-yield, "over-fruiting" year that stunts their new growth and results in poor fruiting the following year. Although your plant was young, it may have been putting down roots and not doing much in the way of top growth, putting it in a similar situation. It's actually a best practice to not allow a one-year-old blueberry plant (typically sold in a one-gallon container) to set fruit its first year in the ground. Gardeners are advised to remove one-year-old blueberry plants' flowers as they appear to prevent fruiting and allow the blueberry plants to concentrate their energy on becoming well established in the ground.

To ensure a good harvest next year, prune your blueberry plants in winter, removing low growth around the base of the plant and any dead, weak or discolored wood. Aim to remove one-half to one-third of the blueberry bush's wood; if removing low growth and dead or weak wood doesn't achieve this, continue trimming out small branches and fruiting stems. Follow this pruning regimen on your blueberry plants every winter, and watch out for birds in summer.

Read the difference between highbush and rabbiteye blueberry plants and which you should grow.

Read about lowbush blueberry, a great groundcover.

Image: public domain.

Learn all about growing berries and other fruits with Success With Organic Fruit.

Grow fruits, vegetables and more in pots with McGee & Stuckey's The Bountiful Container.

Blueberries are both ornamental and edible plants. Learn about more attractive edible plants in the All-In-One Garden: GrowVegetables, Fruit, Herbs and Flowers in the Same Space.