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How to Prune Blueberry Bushes

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Wondering how to prune the blueberry bushes in your yard or garden area? Fear not, I’ve got you covered! Pruning blueberry bushes doesn’t take much time, but your harvest will be much better if you take the time to snip a few branches this winter.

how to prune blueberry bushes

If you’re thinking about adding fruit trees or bushes to your landscape, then blueberry bushes are some of the easiest to start with. Blueberry bushes come in a multitude of varieties and can be grown both in the ground and in containers. Check out my article all about how to grow blueberries in containers. They are virtually maintenance free, and harvesting the fruit is fun for big and little gardeners alike! Pruning blueberry bushes is one of the easiest garden tasks you’ll have to take on this winter. 

how to prune blueberry bushes

When to Prune Blueberry Bushes

Once your blueberry bushes are at least three years old, they’ll need to be pruned annually. Before the three year mark, you can simply let your bushes grow and establish themselves. Unlike some roses and hydrangeas, blueberry bushes don’t need to be pruned down to the ground. In fact learning how to prune blueberry bushes is a fairly simple process. affiliate link policy

The best time to prune your blueberry bushes is in the late winter or early spring. If you live further south, I recommend the earlier pruning time. I live in the southeast, and I never know when we’ll get an usually warm early spring, so you don’t want to wait too far into the spring and affect your harvest. For those who live further north, waiting until early spring will be the better option. 

How to Prune Blueberry Bushes

To start pruning blueberry bushes, you’ll need a good pair of hand pruners and perhaps a small hand saw for larger limbs that need to be pruned down.

  • The first step to pruning your blueberry bushes is to go through your bush and find small branches that intersect or cross over one another. These small branches, especially when they touch, will eventually leaf out and a crowd one another. So when you find two branches that intersect choose to prune one of them. I know it can be hard to prune any limb that has buds on it, but you’re pruning for the greater good here. how to prune blueberry bushes
  • Next, you want to shape up your bush. Especially at the end of a season, a blueberry bush may send up tall limbs that extend 8 to 12 in above the rest of the bush. Go ahead and trim these back. Even if they have buds, you want to keep your bush shaped up, and these gangly limbs aren’t needed.
  • Finally go through your bush and prune off any dying, dead, or unproductive limbs. I tend to find these closer to the bottom and at the very ends of branches.  Getting rid of them will keep your bush healthy and keep it from wasting energy on growing unproductive limbs.                                                                                                                           how to prune blueberry bushes

Video on how to prune blueberry bushes

Here’s a video step-by-step of how to prune blueberry bushes. The sound is low for some reason, so be sure to turn up your volume.

Reap the Blueberry Harvest!

The whole printing process should take you no longer then 20 minutes. if you have several bushes, this is obviously going to take a little longer, but pruning your blueberry bushes is well worth the time and effort. We had one of our best blueberry harvests this past year, and I fully believe it was all a result of pruning. So while you’re out there in the winter with your hand pruners, just think about all of the fresh berries, jam, and blueberry pies that can come as a result of your little bit of work now.

Have a great week and happy gardening!

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I'd love to hear from you

Arthur John

Wednesday 17th of February 2021

Really great post about pruning. This answered the majority of my questions. When I read this I actually opened up a word document and started taking notes haha. https://www.battlecreektrees.com/

Courtney

Wednesday 17th of February 2021

I'm so glad it's been a help to you!

Marlene

Tuesday 27th of October 2020

Thank you so much Courtney. :) I just noticed my typos from before.... sorry! :) I live in Zone 5A-5B in New York. Should the old canes be taken out completely? Oh powdery mildew is nasty, I get that every year on my squash and cucumbers. :( Thank you again so much!

Marlene

Sunday 18th of October 2020

Hello Courtney, I am a new member. I love in central NY, some 5a-5b. I have Chandler Blueberry bushes that are several years old. They have never really been pruned back except for a few broken branches here and there. I have read that you should cut out the old canes, I don't know how to tell the old ones from the new ones. What do you feel is the best way to Prime those? I also noticed that the sometimes get like this green mold on the canes in the summer. I am not sure if that is what it is, but should I be concerned? Thank you so much!

Courtney

Tuesday 27th of October 2020

Hi Marlene! I'm so happy to have you here. If your bush has old canes, then they should be lighter in color and have a "hollow" feel. I don't usually have many old branches, but I will cut out any branches that touch one another or are too close. As far as the green mold, it could be lack of light on those particular branches. I recommend you reach out to your local cooperative extension to see if there's a mildew that affects blueberries in your area. (We have powdery mildew here, but that doesn't sound like what you're describing.) I hope this helps!

Jade

Wednesday 9th of January 2019

I'd love some blueberry bushes in my garden! Sadly i don't think they'd grow in my tropical-beachy environment

Courtney

Wednesday 9th of January 2019

Hi Jade! I'm not sure where you are, but my dad grows them in Florida. You could also grow them in containers, which I talk about here: https://thekitchengarten.com/how-to-grow-blueberries-in-containers/ Thanks for stopping by!

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