There are lots of different plants in the world and a lot of different people who like to have them in and around their homes.
For example, some love to have various forms of cacti decorating their windowsills, whereas other people prefer to have a plant for cherry tomatoes. Either way, it can be refreshing to have your plants scattered about.
When it comes to growing fruit, many people will think of strawberries, raspberries, and even blackberries. These can all be used to make various foods and meals, but blueberries are often overlooked.
Being used in different foods like blueberry pie, or even in a fruit salad of some sort.
Many people tend to just jump straight into growing their plants, which can be risky considering that they might not know all of the facts and requirements before knowing what to do.
However, we have this guide for you so you don’t have to wonder about things. Follow the rest of the guide to find all about blueberry plants and the soil they need to thrive.
By doing the research first, you’re making sure that you have all of the facts to have your very own, efficient blueberry plant.
What Are Blueberries And Blueberry Plants?
In case you didn’t know, blueberries are a form of fruit coming in relatively small sizes.
About half the size of a grape, they tend to be quite sweet and juicy, meaning that they’re ideal for use in fruit salads and desserts within the world of food.
This particular fruit is very versatile and popular amongst fruit lovers around the world.
Blueberry plants are bushes that produce the fruit we know as blueberries.
This might seem obvious, but some fruits come from trees rather than bushes, meaning that they are harder to grow in a personal capacity because of the space needed to grow.
Because blueberry plants have quite high yields, people love to grow them and enjoy the benefits!
The Ideal pH Level In Soil
One of the first things that you need to consider when thinking of growing blueberry plants is the pH level of the soil, and whether it’s suitable for growing your fruit there.
A lot of people might not have heard of pH levels in soil and will need to find out before they look to even try and grow their plants.
Blueberry plants thrive in acidic soil and need their environmental surroundings to be relatively acidic to survive and grow properly.
Specifically, this particular fruit needs soil in the region of pH 4.5 to 4.8 to grow the best it can. This includes the pacific northwest and the eastern and southeastern US areas.
In the west of the US, the soil tends to be quite alkaline, which is the polar opposite of acidic, meaning that these areas aren’t the most ideal for growing blueberry plants. This can be amended, however, it requires a lot of time and effort to do so.
To make the soil acidic, you must dig deep into the soil and add sulfur to the ground. This will get closer to the recommended pH level that you need.
From here, you should monitor the soil yearly to make sure that the acid levels are at a desirable amount.
How To Determine Soil pH Levels
We understand that if you’ve never heard of this before then it can sound very confusing and hard. However, it’s not as bad as you might think at first.
Here, we’ll look at three different ways for you to test the pH levels of your soil.
1. Test The Soil At A Local Cooperative Extension Service (Free)
Because there is no price involved, this is easily one of the best ways to test your soil. All you have to do is take a sample of your soil and get it tested.
These guys won’t only give you an idea of the pH scale, but also will provide you with details and tips on the nutrients in your soil.
This can be anything from suggestions on amounts of fertilizer to how to keep an eye on the levels yourself. Just ask!
The soil has to be dry to be tested accurately, otherwise, you might get inaccurate results or the soil won’t be suitable to test.
Make sure you get soil that isn’t right on the surface because external factors can affect this soil easily. These results can take a few weeks to come back, so be as patient as you can.
2. Litmus Paper (Roughly $9)
Because a lot of people don’t have the time to wait a few weeks for their results, they often try to get their own in the comfort of their own homes.
For a roll of tape around 16ft long, you can expect to pay approximately $9, which works out at around 5 cents per test.
These tests usually take around an inch for each test. However, these results aren’t accurate, but they are a good estimate.
Collect a few different samples from around your garden and separate them into different containers.
Add some spring water, but make sure you only add a little bit! Spring water is pH neutral and won’t affect the results, as long as it isn’t too much.
Stir the soil and then leave it for an hour before checking for the test results.
3. pH Soil Test Kit (Approx. $10)
Although this testing type is the most expensive, this isn’t the worst thing about it. We find that this kit is relatively hard to read, which isn’t ideal. Coming in at just under a dollar per test, they aren’t the most ideal for people.
There isn’t a lot of soil being tested per test, which isn’t great for those who want to get an accurate estimation. However, they are easy to come by.
You put the soil in ay the side until it reaches the fill line, then top the rest up with water. Give it a shake with the lid on and the results should be relatively readable next to the pH scale.
Preparing The Soil
The best thing to do when preparing the soil for planting is to remove any excess weeds, grass, and any other external factors that could affect the quality of your soil. Get rid of anything that could stunt blueberry plant growth.
Because these plants have shallow roots, you need to make sure that other plants don’t steal vitamins and minerals away from the blueberries.
Although this might take a while depending on how much needs to be removed, it’s worth it in terms of results. Make sure any bermudagrass is also removed from the area.
Lowering The pH Of Your Soil
Now that all of these invasive factors and obstacles have been removed, you can adjust the pH of the soil to suit your needs.
Adding sulfur is a good way to adjust the pH and can be helped along by pine needles, aged compost, old leaves, and sawdust.
Different Types Of Sulfur
The most common types of sulfur that are used throughout the world of soil are elemental sulfur, which is organic, and Ammonium Sulfate, which is synthetic. Both have their ups and downs, adding their strengths to lowering the pH of your soil.
Elemental sulfur needs a longer time to produce results because it utilizes natural soil bacteria. This bacteria is converted to sulfuric acid which eventually results in a lower pH level.
Ammonium Sulfate is very soluble and makes the sulfate quickly available for use, but is prone to leaching.
However, because this sulfate is very strong, you need to be careful that you don’t add too much. This can affect other plants and damage them by burning them.
How Long Will This Take?
We recommend that you know that a lot of patience will be involved and that proper results require a good amount of time.
Six months is the bare minimum that you need to wait or the soil won’t be ready. One to two years is usually a good amount, after all, this is an investment and growing blueberries doesn’t happen overnight!
Make sure you test your soil a few weeks before you start to plant them and then you can move on from there.
Sulfur And Its Application Rates For Blueberries
This section can be relatively confusing because application rates tend to vary a lot from source to source.
We always recommend that you double-check the packaging of your product because of these varying rates and guides.
Once you’ve found the product for you, you can start to move toward finding some results on application rates.
You can use a lot of different soil acidifiers from lots of different stores, with some being more common than others.
Although you should set yourself a budget so you don’t pay over the odds for your soil acidifier, we always recommend that you go with a brand of product that you recognize and trust.
You’re likely to need around 12 pounds per 100 square feet to lower your soil by one pH point for a product like Epsoma.
The results and the amounts needed will vary from product to product, however, so always check the packaging.
Wait For The Results
The final part of your process is to sit and wait for the biological order of things to kick in. Make sure you cover the soil so that the blueberries will be able to go straight into the soil.
By placing mulch over your intended area, you can get yourself ready for the planting process.
When it’s eventually time to plant your blueberries, you can rake away the mulch to allow room to plant.
Once you’ve placed the seeds where you want, you can pull the mulch back over the soil and wait once again.
This shouldn’t be too hard and will have you excited for the next step in your planting adventure.
When it comes to mulch, we briefly mentioned that pine needles, shredded leaves, and wood chips can all help with the process of changing the pH levels in the soil.
Including these in the mulch can be a great way to keep things moving and to allow yourself some extra help.
Make sure you don’t suffocate the plant roots though, otherwise, you might waste all of this time and effort for nothing!
If you’re worried about accidentally mixing the mulch with the soil, you can use a tarp or cover crop are great alternatives for this process and can save you a lot of stress for similar results.
As long as the soil is kept safe, then you can rest easy knowing that it will all turn out okay!
From here, your next job is to keep an eye on the blueberry bushes and make sure that they thrive and produce a lot of fruit for you to enjoy.
There you go! A full guide to making sure that your soil is at a sufficient pH level for you to plant your blueberries.
They always say that the best start is a good foundation, which is exactly what you’re doing by keeping an eye on the pH levels of the soil.
Investing in kits to help you along the way can be a good idea, but you need to make sure you choose the right one.
Hopefully, we’ve just helped you take your first steps toward your supply of blueberries.
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