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Get Free Blueberry Plants from Existing Bushes!

 
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Blueberries are one of my favorite fruits!

They are easy to grow once established, generally pest free, and can be a great plant to fill in a natural food forest!

Blueberries send up side shoots from mature blueberry bushes that can be separated from the mother plants and form new blueberry bushes.

Here's a photo of one that's been dug up, labeled, and ready to be transplanted to it's new home!



Blueberries do best in a nice moist, mostly sunny spot, and can be used to fill in naturally wet areas, that may not accommodate other plants as well.

Here's a photo of two suckers coming up from the mother plant, which is out of the picture to the right.



And here's a quick video I made of the process too! Hope you enjoy it!



Have you done this before to reproduce blueberries? What kind of blueberries are you growing?

I'd love to see pictures!
 
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Good to know, thanks!
 
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Chris Emerson wrote:Good to know, thanks!



Glad it was useful!
 
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Steve, this technique has been described to me as "root disturbance". Basically you can induce a new shoot by exposing a section of feeder root to sunlight, and then transplant the child to a new location. I really like this technique, it doesn't require any special equipment, and the roots tend to be much better developed than traditional peat moss layered cuttings. You have to be a little careful not to stress the parent plant too much and optimally expose a good distance from the parent so you aren't taking more root than you have to. I wait at least 2-3 years before doing it, then let the plant recover if you are taking a significant portion of the feeder system. Some vaccinia seem to allow this more readily, I have had more success with rabbiteye than northern or southern.

Looks like a great system for you, nice work!
 
Steve Thorn
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Thanks Tj!

Tj Jefferson wrote:Steve, this technique has been described to me as "root disturbance". Basically you can induce a new shoot by exposing a section of feeder root to sunlight, and then transplant the child to a new location. I really like this technique, it doesn't require any special equipment, and the roots tend to be much better developed than traditional peat moss layered cuttings.



Yeah, I've found this to be one of the simplest and easiest forms of plant propagation!

I've seen the root disturbance or exposure method like you mentioned above, on a pear tree that I have, where two new trees started growing up from the roots. To me with the blueberries it's basically like the root disturbance method, but with blueberries they seem to send up these new shoots that just have roots on the side closest to the main plant, with the new shoot coming straight out from the main plant and then up from the ground, like the plant is purposely constantly spreading outward, which I love about them!

You have to be a little careful not to stress the parent plant too much and optimally expose a good distance from the parent so you aren't taking more root than you have to. I wait at least 2-3 years before doing it, then let the plant recover if you are taking a significant portion of the feeder system. Some vaccinia seem to allow this more readily, I have had more success with rabbiteye than northern or southern.



Yeah, I think Fall would be the best time to do this in my area, which gets hot quickly in the spring and very hot in the summer. This would give the main plant time to adjust and grow even more roots in the winter and also for the new plant to do the same in its new location!

Looks like a great system for you, nice work!



Thanks again Tj!
 
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I have 4 blueberries in pots. Cuttings never worked for me. I will be trying this method too.
 
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Gurkan Yeniceri wrote:I have 4 blueberries in pots. Cuttings never worked for me. I will be trying this method too.



I haven't tried rooting blueberry cuttings yet, and I will avoid it if I can.

This way was super quick and easy, and the plants seemed to have a jump start with their small existing root system, and they are already conditioned to growing outside.

The transplanted blueberry plants are growing really well in their new spots, and I plan to post a video of them soon!
 
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This is an update from the suckers/new shoots that were planted.

They were planted in a very moist location, and are growing very quickly!

Hopefully they'll produce a few blueberries next year!

 
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I had no idea this was possible with my blueberry bushes. Definitely going to give this a try!!!

Another tree that often puts out a lot of these child plants is the pawpaw. Love that plant!
 
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Looks awfully tall for blueberry, might that be huckleberry?  There is a slight difference.
 
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Karl Treen wrote:I had no idea this was possible with my blueberry bushes. Definitely going to give this a try!!!

Another tree that often puts out a lot of these child plants is the pawpaw. Love that plant!



I didn't realize that paw paws did that either until the other day, excited to hopefully get some paw paw children soon too. Mine hasn't made any yet, but it's about 8 feet tall now so I'm hoping it may be soon!
 
Steve Thorn
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Max Kennedy wrote:Looks awfully tall for blueberry, might that be huckleberry?  There is a slight difference.



They're Rabbiteye type blueberries that grow well here in our hot climate. I ate some blueberries from the mother plant this summer, and they were tasty.

I've seen some older bushes nearby that are 9 feet tall, maybe even taller.
 
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I looked at my blueberry plant and I didn’t want to risk harming it because it’s nowhere near as tall as the one in the video.

Today I’ve tried my usual method to see if it’ll work: put a cutting in potting mix, protect with a PVC pipe topped with a plastic cup to keep in moisture, and water daily. We’ll see if it works.
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I moved two blueberry plants a couple years ago. In digging them, they ended up split in two. All four grew beautifully and produced a full crop the next summer. Meanwhile, the rootlets I didn't get from the old area, grew tops. Those are now five more plants. It'll be a couple years before they produce much as they were very small to start. Based on this experience, I'd think your method should work well to multiply plants, better than cuttings.
 
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I've had good luck sticking early spring trimmings in my potted garden; 4-6 trimmings per pot, with at least 3 buds below the soil.  These pots are guaranteed to be watered because I grow other things in them.  3 years in a row now I've had over 50% survival rate in the trimmings; most sprout leaves and start growing as a plant throughout that first year.  I eventually dedicate the pot to them if they prove they want to keep living.  I've never used a rooting hormone, but this year I might, just to see how many more will grow!  I like to grow my blueberries in spaghnum moss, 100%, in pots.  My oldest blueberry is now 8 years old and still goin' strong in its original pot and moss. I supplement it with compost teas and urine, it seems to be very happy.
 
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I have rabbiteyes too, but I didn't realize I could do this. Good video. I appreciate the information.
 
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Thanks so much for sharing this, Steve!  My rabbiteyes aren’t very happy (just sitting with no new growth) but my Southern Highbush are doing well...do you think it might work with them?
 
Steve Thorn
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Thanks Kimberly!

Some of my Rabbiteyes that were in a drier spot took about a year to really start growing a lot. Once they got started though they really started growing fast! Hopefully yours will take off soon!
 
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Tim Kivi wrote:
I looked at my blueberry plant and I didn’t want to risk harming it because it’s nowhere near as tall as the one in the video.

Today I’ve tried my usual method to see if it’ll work: put a cutting in potting mix, protect with a PVC pipe topped with a plastic cup to keep in moisture, and water daily. We’ll see if it works.



Hey Tim, curious to know if that was successful for you. I’m slowly getting better at rooting cuttings using various methods, but haven’t tried pipe yet. I have had no success rooting blueberry cuttings (going to also try Steve’s method of separating suckers this summer) and I’d really like to increase my population without buying plants at $10+ each! I love the berries, they are super healthy, and I’d really like to get to a point where I can preserve at least 10 gallons of berries a year.
I put some cuttings in water yesterday with some rooting gel mixed in, which is my typical go to method, but thus far hasn’t ever worked with blueberries- even when they leaf out and get some rootlets they don’t survive the move to soil.
 
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First of all, note that there are three kinds of blueberries: tall rabbiteyes which grow in the south (of the US), highbush which grow in middle latitudes, and small ones which grow in the north. I have highbush blueberries, and I'm posting to note my experience this spring. When I pruned my plants, I poked a couple of the nice vibrant red stems into a bucket of half composted leaves and put it in the shade. I brought it inside a couple of times on cold nights. When I saw tiny leaves sprouting on the larger one, I moved it into its own small bucket and discarded the little dead one. I put a plastic bag over it for humidity, but when I checked it only three or four days later I saw it had more sizable leaves so I removed the bag and put it back outside in most shade. Now I'm looking for someone to give it away to, as i don't have room for another in my blueberry enclosure. But since this worked so well with no rooting hormone, no trimming of the stem, no misting, I may try this again more seriously next year. I think it worked because it was early, the shredded leaves were half composted and very wet, probably still acidic...so, FWIW.
 
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Steve Thorn wrote:I didn't realize that paw paws did that either until the other day, excited to hopefully get some paw paw children soon too. Mine hasn't made any yet, but it's about 8 feet tall now so I'm hoping it may be soon!



Oh yes, under the right circumstances, a lone paw paw tree will grow into a whole thicket of root-sucker clones.  But like you, I have a number of well-established paw paws, and none have yet done so.  Consequently, I couldn't say for sure what the "right circumstances" actually are  : (
 
Matthew Nistico
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It is my understanding - or I guess I should say my assumption just from handling a few blueberry transplants over the years - that most commercial cultivars are produced through rooted cuttings, as opposed to grafting.  If so, then this should assure that the side shoots we propagate through the technique advocated herein should grow true to type.

Somebody please confirm or correct me if this is not always so...
 
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If there is another thread better for this question, please advise.
I once had five blueberry plants. About the second or third year, their leaves began to turn yellow-green.  Being advised that they probably lacked iron and that putting a rusty nail in the soil beside each plant would remedy that, I did.  Three of the plants died, so I relocated the remaining two plants to another bed with more sun. I now have one plant, which hasn't grown at all in two+ years and produces maybe six berries.

Does anyone have an idea of what is wrong?  I tried not to let them dry out, I tried to acidify the soil a bit with tea and diluted vinegar, back when I still had five plants.  Strawberries are growing very nicely in the bed in which I had originally planted them, if that gives a clue.

Thanks in advance for your input.
 
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Just getting ready to plant 3 new blueberries.  Love the info here. Noted somebody saying lowbush grow in the north. Here in north Michigan lowbush grow with fern in sandy plains. Highbush grow in the swampy marshy spots that dry out in July and August. So clearly they have different preferences for conditions.
 
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Blueberries turning yellow likely don't have sufficiently acid soil; this causes chlorosis because they can't utilize the iron in the soil if it isn't acid enough for blueberries, which is very acid. I had a blueberry bed that did poorly probably because I rimmed the bottom with concrete blocks, which may leach alkalinity. I moved the blueberries to a new bed with no blocks at the bottom, in a hugelkuture, and they are doing better. Someone also told me to toss my coffee grounds in there, as they are high in nitrogen and acidic--that seems to have helped. I used a lot of peat moss in the hugelkulture as there isn't much else that's acidic; I read that a study showed that pine needles and oak leaves, once fully composted, are neutral.
 
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Matthew Nistico wrote:It is my understanding - or I guess I should say my assumption just from handling a few blueberry transplants over the years - that most commercial cultivars are produced through rooted cuttings, as opposed to grafting.  If so, then this should assure that the side shoots we propagate through the technique advocated herein should grow true to type.

Somebody please confirm or correct me if this is not always so...



Yes I think most use cuttings, and therefore the suckers should be true to type.

I saw one place propagating blueberries commercially, and it looked like they stuck the cuttings in sand and had hoop houses over them to keep it humid while they rooted.

If someone was trying to create a ton of blueberries, I would think cuttings would be the way to go.

For the backyard gardener, getting new plants from suckers doesn't make as many plants as quickly, but it makes a few big plants really quickly once the blueberry bush is a few years old and healthy.

I've bought small one year old rooted cuttings, and they usually take at least two more years, so three years total, to start producing a handful of berries.

Some of these suckers that I transplanted last year have a few blueberries on them this year after just one year.
 
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Emilie McVey wrote:If there is another thread better for this question, please advise.
I once had five blueberry plants. About the second or third year, their leaves began to turn yellow-green.  Being advised that they probably lacked iron and that putting a rusty nail in the soil beside each plant would remedy that, I did.  Three of the plants died, so I relocated the remaining two plants to another bed with more sun. I now have one plant, which hasn't grown at all in two+ years and produces maybe six berries.

Does anyone have an idea of what is wrong?  I tried not to let them dry out, I tried to acidify the soil a bit with tea and diluted vinegar, back when I still had five plants.  Strawberries are growing very nicely in the bed in which I had originally planted them, if that gives a clue.

Thanks in advance for your input.



This has happened to some of mine too.

I've had a lot of success putting them in a naturally wet area with mostly sun, and mulching them with a leaf mulch. Almost all of mine that I've put in an area like this have thrived.

Wish you the best with yours!
 
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yeah, i do this too. i tend to be a bit too scatterbrained to be really good at rooting blueberries, i have tried a lot of times and really had a very low percentage of them actually take. i can root out some things pretty well with cuttings, easy things anyway...but blueberries i find difficult. they take a long time too...and maybe part of the issue is you need really thick branches, which take forever to get thick enough in blueberries. you have to take the really choice parts for cuttings, and it takes a long time to get that much to take big cuttings like that.

ground layering them is the only way that has worked for me, reliably. that or burying them really deep, and somewhat layering them a bit, just pushing down the roots deeply so that the major side branches turn into their own rooted plant.

but usually i ground layer them, and even sometimes ground layer them in pots, for the ones i grow in pots and larger containers. i do that with grapes and passionflowers too, the ones i grow in pots - pot layer them...as opposed to ground layer. by digging a bit around the rim of the pot usually and laying a nice passionflower or grape branch around the edge....covering it up with some freshy soil and a rock or 2.

basically push a good lower branch down, embed it in the soil by making a bit of a trench for it and then loosely cover with soil... and then a large rock or other heavy object to hold it down to the ground or soil in the pot

ground layering results are like close to 100% of the time- this works ! so that i love, as opposed to the fuss of taking a bunch of cuttings and only getting 1 or 2 to take....
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ground layered blueberries, with rocks to hold them down
ground layered blueberries, with rocks to hold them down
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ground layered blueberry
ground layered blueberry
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ground layered grape
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ground layered grape
ground layered grape
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pot layering grape
pot layering muscadine grapes
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pot layering muscadine grapes
pot layering grapes
 
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leila hamaya wrote:yeah, i do this too. i tend to be a bit too scatterbrained to be really good at rooting blueberries, i have tried a lot of times and really had a very low percentage of them actually take. i can root out some things pretty well with cuttings, easy things anyway...but blueberries i find difficult. they take a long time too...and maybe part of the issue is you need really thick branches, which take forever to get thick enough in blueberries. you have to take the really choice parts for cuttings, and it takes a long time to get that much to take big cuttings like that...


I am just old and don't get everything done that should be done so grapes just constantly root where they reach the ground and I miss pruning them.
But the blueberries: I noticed yesterday that the plants that I bought 3 years ago, which seem to have been potted rooted cuttings and have produce small amounts of fruit but never grown vigorously, have vigorously growing side shouts where the native soil has piled up around the base of the plant. Speculating that the potting soil left on the roots at transplanting is not friendly to soil life and perhaps the root ball was circling before they were put in a larger pot.
So this thread has motivated me to make a plan if I have the energy to do it when I should.  This fall I will dig the plants up, separate the side shouts, wash the potting soil off and replant them. Put the original  plants deeper to encourage more side shouts.
 
leila hamaya
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yeah totally, you can divide up your blueberries, like you would make division in something more bulby.

and totally i think the normal rule of transplant something to the same position it was in the pot doesnt apply to blueberries...another words normally this is against the rules!

with a lot of plants and trees, you generally do not want to plant it deeply, and then pile a bunch of dirt way up on the trunk or stem...but blueberries are the exception to this rule, imho, blueberries and figs too...because where you plant them deeply sinks the main branches and causes each of  them to root out where it's buried. then some year or 2 later you can go back and divide them.

i guess this is sort of like stool rooting or mound layering i think it is called....although my understanding of that is it's often done by cutting a large tree, covering it with a lot of loose dirt, and then cutting off all the new shoots that spring up from a species which works like that...
 
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Julie Reed wrote:Hey Tim, curious to know if that was successful for you. I’m slowly getting better at rooting cuttings using various methods, but haven’t tried pipe yet. I have had no success rooting blueberry cuttings (going to also try Steve’s method of separating suckers this summer) and I’d really like to increase my population without buying plants at $10+ each! I love the berries, they are super healthy, and I’d really like to get to a point where I can preserve at least 10 gallons of berries a year.
I put some cuttings in water yesterday with some rooting gel mixed in, which is my typical go to method, but thus far hasn’t ever worked with blueberries- even when they leaf out and get some rootlets they don’t survive the move to soil.



I blueberry cuttings didn’t work. I’ve never had success with blueberry cuttings. Figs and grapes are easy but blueberries just wither and die when I try. I’m going to try diction next. My main problem is getting acidic soil, because at $10 for a 20 litre (5 gallon) bag it’s quite expensive for a single plant- and I want to grow about 20 blueberry plants.
 
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o and one more significant advantage to planting them extremely deeply, at least in the hotter dryer climates than they prefer, is that because blueberries are usually shallow rooted but thats where the soil dries out the fastest. i'm in blueberry happiness zone these days but trying to grow these in a drier climate it is much better to plant them extremely deep, get those bottom roots to be more secure in the wetter deeper ground...
 
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@ tim kivi - IMHO - the cutting you showed above is too small, too thin. it takes a while for the blueberry to grow thick, as thick as a pencil in diameter might be too much, but close to this.

anyway i feel your pain, i have probably taken at least 100 cuttings over many years ...and all told maybe got a dozen or so to take. i tend to get them too wet, or too dry, etc...part of that is definitely user error...but yeah i definitely consider them on the difficult side of the scale for re rooting...
 
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leila hamaya wrote:@ tim kivi - IMHO - the cutting you showed above is too small, too thin. it takes a while for the blueberry to grow thick, as thick as a pencil in diameter might be too much, but close to this.

anyway i feel your pain, i have probably taken at least 100 cuttings over many years ...and all told maybe got a dozen or so to take. i tend to get them too wet, or too dry, etc...part of that is definitely user error...but yeah i definitely consider them on the difficult side of the scale for re rooting...



Makes sense. I’ve managed to root fig trees from the thinnest little cuttings, but figs are one of the easiest things to propagate.

The best method is probably to divide existing plants, and then bury the tips into additional pots. My one blueberry plant could probably become ten plants just by doing that. If it worked then those ten plants could eventually become a hundred plants. Patience is probably the grower’s greatest virtue but the hardest to practice.
 
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admittedly, this is a bit experimental, and like i said some of it is contrary to common wisdom, so try at your own risk ! and YMMV. well mostly just the part about sinking the blueberries down deep when you plant them. but i tried it one day and it worked great so i started doing it with all the blueberries. youre basically encouraging them to do what they already do, where the side branches will eventually start forming a whole new root ball. so you just get them to do that by encouraging them, either by bending branches down, or doing something similar to mound layering

but this is just something my intuition led me to think out one day, and i started doing it with all the primo plants i had, as a reliable way to get a whole bunch more. so far its been working out great.

the only con i can think to this is that its SLOW. it can take a year or 2.
sometimes...you can do it in spring, and its just developed enough to cut off from the mother plant in late fall. but only sometimes...

usually i do it one year, and then check it on the next. grapes and passionflower start readily, and cane berries are also really easy. they are good at naturally tip layering.
some other things, like blueberries they take a long time to get developed enough to cut from the mother plant.

well anywho i took some recent pics. still havent done a good spring cleaning on my little container garden, but here's some "pot layered" blueberries and other things i did last year. i think a few are already going so i moved around the rocks, and some had lifted themselves a bit, so i re did them.

but yeah not quite ready to dig them up yet, gonna give them a month or 3 of warm weather before i divide them into new plants.

i've also been doing this with some lovely hydrangeas. now i have like a hundred hydrangea plants =) they are really easy. i just bend the branch all the way to the ground, throw pavers and heavy stones on them and they re root easily.
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blueberry being pot layered
blueberry being pot layered
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another one, i think these two worked
another one, i think these two worked
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north country blueberry, i just redid this one pushed it further in along the edge
north country blueberry, i just redid this one pushed it further in along the edge
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[Thumbnail for nc-888.jpg]
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this raspberry was trained to jump into all the neighboring pots.
this raspberry was trained to jump into all the neighboring pots.
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[Thumbnail for raspberry-88.jpg]
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pot layered this grape into it's own pot, and the neighbor
pot layered this grape into it's own pot, and the neighbor
IMG_2954.JPG
hydrangea
hydrangea
IMG_2965.JPG
hydrangea
hydrangea
 
Tim Kivi
pollinator
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Today I cut the top off a blueberry branch and pulled off the leaves, then pushed it deep into a pot. Hopefully it works.

I also took two cuttings of the thickest branch to try strike roots. I dipped them in liquid roofing hormone. It felt a bit painful to cut the strongest branch because I have only one plant. I’d ultimately like to have about 20 blueberry plants planted in styrofoam boxes.
 
leila hamaya
pollinator
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Location: northern northern california
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Tim Kivi wrote:Today I cut the top off a blueberry branch and pulled off the leaves, then pushed it deep into a pot. Hopefully it works.

I also took two cuttings of the thickest branch to try strike roots. I dipped them in liquid roofing hormone. It felt a bit painful to cut the strongest branch because I have only one plant. I’d ultimately like to have about 20 blueberry plants planted in styrofoam boxes.



in my experience that's what it takes to get them to re root, the best parts! unfortunately. that and lots of misting, a humidity dome for a bit anyway.
and why its extra frustrating when it doesnt work, BUT when you cut off a major part of the plant it should respond by vigorous growth.

blueberries take a long time to really get going, the first year or more is really just getting them established. less focus on the upper parts of the plant means the plant can turn it's attention to it's roots, and pushing forward with new growth once it's well established.

they even say not to let it flower and make fruit the first year or 2. ...just keep picking off the flowers. i never do, just let them flower and produce a handful of berries...but that is what i read. cause the first year is all about seeing them established enough to start the "leap" of the 2nd or 3rd year....
 
Steve Thorn
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Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
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I've really enjoyed seeing all the great ideas in this thread!

Here's a one year update of the blueberries from the first post.

It seems like the ones that weren't pruned back actually did better than the ones that I pruned back to be shorter.

A few even have a handful of blueberries after just one year!!!

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Transplanted blueberry bush with a few good sized berries
Transplanted blueberry bush with a few good sized berries
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Smaller transplanted polyculture blueberry thriving one year later and putting on tons of new growth!
Smaller transplanted polyculture blueberry thriving one year later and putting on tons of new growth!
 
Tim Kivi
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I succeeded in rooting blueberry cuttings!

I followed this thread's advice by cutting the thickest stem. The two cuttings have sat in my garage in complete darkness with a daily watering. Yesterday I saw small white leafy things starting to emerge where the leaves once were. If they're like figs then this might not yet mean they'll grow roots yet, but in my fig experience when you reach this stage it's pretty easy thereafter.

I've now taken another six cuttings of the strongest branch. If they work then I'll take a few more. I can't believe it if I manage to turn one plant into a dozen and with barely noticing any difference in the size of the original plant since it has so many stems anyway.
 
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