A blueberry bush is a wonderful addition to a garden, adding color and cultivation to your outdoor space – and the more you prune your blueberry bush, the better it will become.
Pruning your blueberry bush is essential to maintaining a healthy plant and bountiful blueberry harvest, and knowing when to do this will ensure optimal growth. It’s also worth learning how to grow blueberries before getting started.
Tom Hilton, gardening expert at National Greenhouse (opens in new tab)says, “To grow a successful blueberry bush so you can keep picking delicious fruit for healthy treats, it comes down to pruning to keep it alive and thriving.”
When to prune a blueberry bush – for maximum growth and a healthy plant
For top tips and expert advice on when to prune a blueberry bush, consult our step-by-step guide below.
1. Assess the growth
It may sound simple, but once you look at your plant and properly assess whether it needs pruning, that’s when you should start.
If there are parts of the plant that are dry, “twiggy” or weak, prune them back to keep healthy fresh growth.
Tom Hilton says: “Be sure to remove any broken, weakened, damaged and very old canes to aid in the renewal process. The best blueberries are grown on 2- to 4-year-old canes, older canes can be significantly weaker, resulting in unassuming, smaller blueberries.”
By pruning your plant back and only having the healthiest and strongest branches, you can encourage the growth of your blueberry bush.
2. The best time for pruning
The best time to prune a blueberry bush is before it buds, which is usually around late winter to early spring.
Plant expert Melvin Cuban from PlantIn (opens in new tab) explains, “Pruning blueberries needs to be synchronized with their growth cycle for the best results. The best time to prune blueberry bushes is during the dormant period in late winter or early spring, before new buds pop out.
Before pruning, make sure that any long, cold periods of winter are completely over. You can then properly assess your plant and trim back any affected, dead sections to allow for healthy growth in the spring.
3. Regular cuttings
As previously mentioned, your blueberry bush will need annual pruning after winter, but regular cuttings also help maintain a healthy plant.
Melvin Cuban explains: “Reduced pruning of some unhealthy, ailing branches ensures good growth and can maximize fruit quality and quantity”.
One thing to watch out for is if your blueberry bush appears crowded as this will affect the rate of growth. There should be a mixture of about half and half old and new branches in your blueberry bush, for a total of about eight branches. Make sure there are no crossed or crowded branches of different lengths to give the plant the space it needs to grow.
Should you prune blueberry bushes?
Blueberry bushes are very hardy plants and benefit greatly from regular pruning.
As long as you gauge growth correctly and only prune back dead, damaged, and unhealthy parts of the plant, your blueberry bush will grow strong, healthy, and long-lasting.
Blueberry expert Troy Wojtaszek (opens in new tab) says: “It sounds scary to circumcise that much, but it’s normal, so don’t be afraid. Blueberry bushes are very resilient plants, the more you do it the better you will do and the plant will thank you with bigger and better blueberries for years to come.”
Fruit blueberries on old or new wood?
Blueberries grow on old wood, the best fruit grows on branches that are about two years old.
When pruning your blueberry bush, be sure to find the perfect balance, leaving behind a mix of old and new growth – only remove those parts of the plant that are overcrowded, dead or diseased.