A well-cared-for blueberry bush can live for decades, upwards of 50 years. That makes these popular fruits pretty long-lived plants. The lifespan of a blueberry bush can vary depending on climate, whether you have acidic soil, what blueberry varieties you have, and other factors. The keys to keeping your blueberry bush alive for a long time are careful pruning, maintaining soil acidity, and weekly waterings. If you pay attention to these factors, your blueberry bush will live and produce fruit for many years.
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How Many Years Does a Blueberry Bush Produce Fruit?
Although they start slow, blueberry bushes produce fruit for 45 years or more. After a 2-4 year infancy where blueberry production doesn’t occur, blueberry bushes produce fruit for the rest of their lives. This makes blueberries some of the most productive plants once they’ve reached maturity. However, these bushes won’t hit the peak of their blueberry production until they’re around 6 to 7 years old. They will hit their mature size by 10 years.
- After a 2–4 year “infancy” period, blueberry bushes produce fruit for the rest of their lives.
- The average blueberry bush will produce fruit for 45 years.
- Mature bushes hit peak production around 6 or 7 years.
For this reason, you might want to hold off on harvesting blueberries for a few years to ensure it grows the largest berries. This will make for the best blueberry harvest. Keep in mind that growth rates can change a bit depending on the types of blueberry bushes you grow. Certain varieties reach a mature size at slightly different speeds. Get to know the different blueberry types: lowbush, northern highbush, southern highbush, rabbiteye, and half-high blueberries. These are the basic blueberry cultivars. Each one is adapted to slightly different climate and soil conditions.
Can You Revive an Old Blueberry Bush?
You can sometimes encourage an old blueberry bush that has stopped producing fruit to begin producing again. First, check to make sure your bush has stopped producing but is still alive. Check the leaf color to make sure it is still green. Once you’ve confirmed it’s alive but not producing, trim the bush back to the ground. The new stems (sometimes referred to as canes) that emerge should produce a blueberry crop by harvest season.
- An old blueberry bush may stop producing simply because the canes (shoots from the ground) are past their prime.
- Consider pruning off the existing canes so new ones sprout.
- New canes will begin producing blueberries again.
- Double-check soil conditions to make sure they’re optimal for blueberry production.
You should also take this opportunity to check that these acid-loving plants have the right blueberry PH soil level to encourage growth. Blueberries need acidic soil to bear plenty of fruit. If your bush is healthy but doesn’t have fruit buds in late spring, this could be the issue.
How Can You Tell the Age of a Blueberry Bush?
It can be difficult for a berry grower to tell the age of a blueberry bush. After they reach about 10 years of age blueberry bushes reach full size. They can remain at this size for 40 more years. A 12-year-old plant may look very similar to a 45-year-old plant. Even a berry specialist often has trouble distinguishing the ages of mature blueberry bushes.
- It’s not easy to tell specific age of mature blueberry plants.
- You can tell age groups of blueberry plants fairly easily (young, adolescent, and mature).
- Mature blueberry plants look the same from age 10 until plant naturally dies around age 50.
The best way to distinguish between age groups is to examine the stem and leaf color of the bush. Young blueberry stems are green in color, while stems that are at least 2 years old are reddish-brown. However, even an old blueberry bush can have new stems.
Can Blueberry Bushes Get Too Old?
With proper care, blueberry bushes can continue to yield a blueberry crop for decades. However, a very old blueberry bush may die naturally. If your bush is over 40 years old and begins to show signs of weakening or dying, it may be time to uproot it and plant a new bush. The biggest risk to a blueberry bush’s production of berries is overgrowth choking the blueberry roots. Annual pruning is recommended to keep your blueberry bush healthy.
When Should You Replace Blueberry Bushes?
There’s usually no need to replace the entire blueberry bush until it dies of old age (usually at around 50 years old). However, once your bush no longer produces blueberry fruit, it may be time to consider a new plant. Recommended practices are to wait at least one growing season to make sure your blueberry bush is no longer fruitful before replanting.
- You shouldn’t need to replace blueberry bushes until they die.
- Organic blueberry growers do replace bushes when they stop bearing fruit though.
Alternatively, individual canes (or stems) of a blueberry plant fail to produce much fruit once they age. You can either cut the canes back to the crown every 4 years to ensure maximum yield or cut canes back once they reach 7 or 8 years old and their fruit production drastically declines.
How Long Do Blueberry Plants Live?
Blueberry bushes, despite bearing delicate fruits, are hardy bushes that can live for a long time. If you live in any of the world’s many berry regions, your bush can live for close to 50 years with the proper care. Here is the quick cheat sheet to keeping your blueberry bush alive and healthy for as long as possible:
- Blueberry bushes live to 50 with proper care.
- They require acidic soil.
- They take 2-4 years to produce fruit and don’t hit peak production until age 6 or 7.
- They reach mature size at age 10.
- Different varieties of blueberries can age at different rates.
- If a blueberry bush stops producing fruit, you can trim it down to spur new growth and renewed berry production.
- There’s no need to plant new blueberries until your old bush has died.
With his quick reference guide in hand, you’re on your way to maintaining a healthy blueberry crop for years to come.