Blueberry plants reach their mature size at around 10 years old. Blueberry bushes grow fairly slowly, so you won’t notice much difference in size from year to year. A mature bush and an eight-year-old bush may even look to be roughly the same height. However, there are a few ways to encourage faster blueberry growth with proper care.
Do Blueberry Bushes Grow Quickly?
Blueberry plants are known for being fairly slow growers. They do not produce fruit for the first several years of their life. While there are some ways to improve growth, such as careful pruning, you can’t cheat your way to a mature bush or a quicker harvest season.
- Blueberry bushes do not grow very quickly.
- It’s hard to tell blueberry bush heights apart year to year.
- Blueberry bushes have a dormant season where they do not grow at all.
Blueberries also have a dormant season where you won’t see any growth. While this can be good for some things like dormant pruning, a long period of winter dormancy does contribute to their slow growth.
How Long Before a Blueberry Bush Produces Blueberries?
Your blueberry bush should start bearing fruit by about 4 years old. However, for the first few years, your flower buds will be a bit lackluster. It’s better to pinch off the flower buds for the first 2 years of the plant’s life. This contributes to faster, stronger growth. That way, by about 7 years old, your blueberries will be producing a high yield each year.
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- Blueberry bushes begin growing flower buds after about a year.
- They won’t begin full fruit development until about 4 years old.
- Fruit development won’t be optimum until around 6 or 7 years old.
Preventing your blueberry bush from growing immature fruit in its adolescence helps the bush grow stronger roots and canes. Without fruit stealing nutrients from the young plant, your blueberry will spend its extra production energy on upward growth before its dormant season.
How Do You Make Blueberries Grow Faster? [5 Expert Methods]
Most blueberry varieties will tend to grow slowly. Naturally, you’ll want a way to speed things up to get the biggest blueberry bush as early as possible. The tips below will help you grow a stronger blueberry bush faster, but there’s no astounding shortcut to vigorous growth.
Buy Mature Blueberry Bushes
A reputable nursery might sell 2-year-old blueberries that have already grown fairly big. By starting out with an older plant you can shave off a few years off waiting for your first harvest. This will be a big improvement over growing your plant from blueberry seedlings.
Plant Blueberries in the Right Location
Blueberries need full sun, defined as at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. So, find a sunny spot in your garden to plant blueberries to make sure the plant’s needs are being met. South and west-facing plantings with minimal shade are typically best.
- Make sure your plants get at least 6 hours of sunlight per day.
- Plant blueberries when average soil temperatures are around 60℉ (16℃).
- Your blueberry bush may be unique—learn the different needs of blueberry cultivars like northern highbush and southern highbush blueberries.
Plant blueberries when the soil temperature is around 60℉ (16℃) to encourage healthy root growth. As a rule, soil temperatures are about 10 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than daytime air temperatures. You can also check your local soil temperature with this online tool.
Care for the Soil
Acidic soil conditions are best for your blueberry bush. You’ll need to get a soil sample from at least 12-18 inches (30–45 cm) deep because this is how deep blueberry roots can grow. The pH of the soil should be between 4.5 and 5.5 for blueberries to thrive. Proper soil conditions are important to prevent root rot and ensure fruit production.
- All types of blueberries grow best in acidic garden soil.
- Use this nitrogen-rich organic fertilizer for your blueberries.
- Plant in sandy soil—such as sandy loam—for best fruit production.
Blueberries also prefer sandy soils, especially sandy loam. The root ball grows best in these conditions. As for fertilizers, blueberries prefer nitrogen-rich fertilizers. Any fertilizer that can be used for azaleas or rhododendrons will likely work on blueberries as well.
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Provide Adequate Water
Blueberries require an inch of water per week most of the year. However, this increases before the blueberry harvest. Blueberry plants may need as much as 4 inches of water per week during ripening. This will help grow the biggest plants that produce the most delicious fruit.
- Blueberries require 1 inch of water per week most of the year.
- Watering needs to increase to 4 inches per week during fruiting.
- Set up drip irrigation to keep your blueberry cultivars well watered.
When growing blueberries, keep the soil moist but not continually wet. Consistent soil moisture is best provided through drip irrigation. Drip irrigation means setting up drip lines that deliver a consistent mist or drops of water. This will provide adequate moisture with minimal daily effort on your part.
Prune Your Blueberries for a Growth Boost
Annual pruning is a good way to prevent your bush from expending unneeded energy. Cut off dead and overgrown areas of the bush so that the bush can focus on growing. An additional trick is that you can pinch off blueberry buds every year until the bush is ready to bear fruit. This means pinching off flower buds every spring until your blueberry bush is 4 years old.
- Prune your blueberry bush annually to remove struggling canes and promote faster growth.
- Pinch off flower buds in spring for the first 3 years of your blueberry plant’s life.
- Pinching off flower buds contributes to the faster growth of young berry bushes.
- By the time your blueberry is 4 years old, it’s ready to begin providing fruit.
Blueberry flower buds grow into blueberry flowers every year but won’t bear fruit until they are at least 4 years old. This means that a lot of energy is wasted on yearly flowering. However, pinching these flower buds off early prevents the bush from expending energy on them. Instead, this energy is redirected into growing a tall, strong plant that will live for many years to come.
How Long Do Blueberries Take to Grow From Seed?
Blueberry seedlings take up to 10 years to fully mature. There are some tricks that can be used to get them to grow taller and stronger while they’re young, but you can’t speed up the natural life cycle of a blueberry plant. Here’s how to give your blueberry a growth boost:
- Blueberry bushes take 10 years to reach maturity.
- Blueberries do not begin fruit production until 4 years old.
- You can buy a 2-year-old bush from some nurseries to get fruit production faster.
- Blueberries require acidic, sandy soil and nitrogen-rich fertilizer.
- Give your blueberries an inch of water per week (they will need more during fruit production).
- Pinch off flower buds for the first 3 years to maximize bush growth.
- Prune dormant blueberry bushes to clear away old growth.
With this knowledge firmly in mind, you’re ready to take your blueberries from seedlings to tall bushes. You’ll have high-quality fruit from these bushes if you’re patient and follow these tips.