[NAFEX] blueberry questions(Propagation)
swim_at_svc at yahoo.com
Thu Nov 6 16:31:50 EST 2008
Yes, I did assume that was a typo. I have not heard that horticultural alchemists existed, but with genetic engineering on the developmental forefront, I guess I was making a risky assumption as we may eventually see blueberries with blackberry genes. I'm not sure why we would want to do that though. I can't imagine anybody wanting thorns on blueberry bushes, for example.
To answer your question, my experience has been that branches that are located close to the ground are, in fact, mostly horizontal (lateral), at least for the first several inches (as opposed to root generated shoots). As such, given that I mulch with peat (and sometimes the peat/sand mix) twice a year, it is easy for me to cover the ones close to the ground. I normally do not bend them down, but at times will hold the end down with a rock so that the branch stays stable and covered. I do think the best way to go is with careful division ( or lots of seedlings). Blueberries are very tough plants, once established in proper conditions. I was really surprised to see what seedlings and young plants survive. I should also clarify that I typically only add an inch or so of peat at a time.
I am not an expert and sure that there are experts on this list who hopefully might better answer your questions. I should also mention that my early attempts with blueberries were not successful in attempting to establish in native soils until I started adding peat at regular intervals. However, growing blueberries is relatively easy and they are very productive for the effort, if you can keep the greedy birds and insects under control.
--- On Thu, 11/6/08, Mark Angermayer <hangermayer at isp.com> wrote:
From: Mark Angermayer <hangermayer at isp.com>
Subject: Re: [NAFEX] blueberry questions(Propagation)
To: "North American Fruit Explorers" <nafex at lists.ibiblio.org>
Date: Thursday, November 6, 2008, 2:49 PM
You probably realized I made a typo on quetion #5. It should read, "If we
purchased just a few BLUEBERRY plants, how hard would it be to propagate our
own?" I guess it might be pretty difficult to propagate blueberries from
blackberry plants, as my original question suggested.
Regarding tip layering, I'm not even sure my suggestion is a bona fide
method of blueberry propagation. I had just heard they can be propagated
from layering, and assumed it was tip layering.
On the stooling/mounding do you lay the stem nearly horizontal to do the
Mark, I have a couple of dozen blueberry plants (not including seedlings)
and have been exploring propagation for the past few years, on a casual
basis. My experiences follow:
1) Cuttings - to date I have had no success with cuttings, with or without
2) Tip layering - not tried
3) Stem layering (limited mounding) - some success but see notes
4) Limited divisions - successful
5) Seeds - highly successful
The divisions I have done have all involved a rapidly growing plant that has
put out shoots from the root zone typcially a few inches from the main
plants. I dig down about halfway between the main plant and shoot, cut the
root and transfer the shoot to a nursery pot with minimal root disruption so
that they get extra attention. Established shoots with roots handle this
procedure quite well. Media for this transplant is always 50/50 peat/sand.
I have found that if you can find a stem that is very close to the bottom of
the plant and mound peat/sand mix over the stem from the mother plant to the
tip, that roots will eventually develop and you can take the stem as a plant
in a year or two. Check for roots first before taking the cutting.
Lastly, if you want a LOT of plants and don't mind evaluating and waiting a
bit, you can start blueberry plants easily from seed. I'm talking easily
hundreds, thousands of plants. I've done this a couple of times now.
Ferment in water and plant on surface of peat/sand mix, keep moist and you
will succeed. Of course, starting from seed means that you will not get the
same variety as the named ones and quality can vary, but you will also learn
a lot about blueberries and their needs through the process. Yesterday I
was out looking at the seedling nursery plants, finding some with purple,
some with scarlet and some with green leaves from the weather change, all
from the same seed batch. They also appear to vary much in vigor so I will
be culling some next year.
From: Mark Angermayer
Subject: [NAFEX] Blueberry questions
To: "North American Fruit Explorers" <nafex at
Date: Thursday, November 6, 2008, 1:05 AM
Could any of you blueberry gardeners/growers help me with a few blueberry
questions? Our soil has a pH of 6.8 with a lot of organic matter. I'd
to put in about 40 feet of blueberries.
1. I've heard blueberries can grow in soil pretty close to neutral, but
like to try to do it by the book and go ahead and acidify the soil. I was
thinking about growing blueberries in bales of peat, as Pete does, but
considering others around here grow blueberries in the soil, I probably
don't have to use straight peat. However, I would like to mix peat in the
soil. My question is how many peat bales would I need for 40 feet of
2. I plan to amend the soil next spring with peat and sulfur, then do a
soil test in the summer for some final amendments, and plant the blueberries
the following spring. Any potential problems with this approach?
3. Unfortunately, the best drained soil we have, with the highest organic
matter is slightly uphill from our orchard area, so the water runs-off down
in the orchard. Considering we get about 40 inches of rain/year, should I
be worried the acid run-off from the blueberries will alter the pH of some
of the orchard area? They say sulfur is fairly mobile, just how mobile is
4. The folks around here that grow blueberries, grow northern highbush, so
I'll probably try that. But, we are in zone 6 and can get some pretty hot
summers. We generally have a month with the highs in the 90s and a week
with the highs at 100F. Will this affect the NH berries negatively?
5. Blueberry plants are kind of expensive (at least compared to blackberry
plants). If we purchased just a few blackberry plants, how hard would it be
to propagate our own? I'm not willing to set up a misting bed, so I'd
looking at either dividing the plants, or burying the tips of some of the
shoots in the soil. Has anyone rooted blueberries, by tip layering?
Success? If you divide the plants, ow long do you have to wait before you
can start dividing?
6. I've read you can plant NH blueberries at 3 or 4 foot spacing. I'd
to be more exact. Should it be 3ft. or 4 ft.? I plan to plant between row
spacing at 7 ft. I know that's a little narrow, but I don't have any
equipment to run down between the rows, and since I plan to mulch all the
area between the rows, I want them as narrow as possible.
Thanks in advance for any ideas/advice.
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