Blueberries shouldn't be harvested too soon. They should be blue in colour and easily come loose from the shrub. Blueberries can be handpicked using your thumb to roll the fruit from the stem into your hand. Harvesting takes place from late Spring to Summer.
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Highbush Blueberry Overview
The Highbush Blueberry is a flowering shrub indigenous to E. North America, which produces deciduous leaves that turn yellow or red in autumn. This plant is hardened if planted in cooler climates, and the beautiful flowers are well suited to decorate gardens. Due to their acid-loving nature, it is best to water them only with rainwater as tap water can have high levels of calcium and chlorine which can raise the pH of the soil. The fruits (berries) of the blueberry plant are edible and are commercially cultivated across the globe. It has become a household name in some areas where it is often used as an ingredient in baking pies. In fact, the fruit is regarded as a superfood, and is very high in anti-oxidants!
Common problems with Highbush Blueberry
The most serious pest for blueberries is birds. These can be kept at bay using netting. Other pests cherry ringworm. Ensure good drainage to prevent root rot.
Highbush Blueberry Companion Plants
How to propagate Highbush Blueberry
Propagation can be done from hardwood or softwood cuttings, but softwood is preferred. Prepare the rooting soil with plenty of peat. Use misters to keep damp.
Seeds will need to be macerated to damage the seed coat and then they will need to be stratified in the fridge for 1 month before they can be sown. Once the seed is fully prepared, they need to be sown into moist compost approximately 1cm depth. The seeds can take 6-8 weeks to germinate. Sow during the spring and keep them 15-21 degrees to increase germination rates. The seedlings will need to be kept warm until they are 10-15cm tall and transplant them into pots and put them in a sunny area of the garden and keep them warm.
Special features of Highbush Blueberry
Birds will happily eat all the berries from a bush and so you may need to construct some netting if you wish to eat the berries yourself.
Plant in acid soil with a pH of between 4.5 and 5.5
Make a dense shrub that can be used as a hedge
Other uses of Highbush Blueberry
Berries are edible raw or can be made into desserts.
Used as a homoeopathic medicine due to their high levels of antioxidants.
Permanent and perennial plants that we can harvest soft fruit crops from.
White Flowering Summer Plants
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