The Best Already-Mixed Soil for Blueberries
A healthy, mature blueberry plant produces between 13 and 18 pounds of fruit each season. They prosper in well-drained, loosely structured soil high in organic matter content. Both purchased and backyard compost can be used as a change to improve soil structure and mineral content. Blueberry bushes also need an acidic soil environment with a pH 4.5 to 5.5. Peat moss, acidic plant mixes and adult compost are used to adjust soil pH.
A pH ratio measures relative acidity and alkalinity in soil. Differences affect how molecules react and interact, which affects the capacity to absorb nutrients. The lower the pH number, the higher the acidity. Most garden plants thrive in slightly acidic soil in the range between 6.0 and 7.0. Blueberries need pH between 4.5 and 5.5 to absorb the necessary nutrients in the soil. Yellow leaf develops on blueberry plants once the soil pH is too high. It may take six months to adjust soil pH in the area where blueberries will be implanted. Evaluation kits for pH can be found at garden centres.
Already-mixed soil amendments designed for acid-loving plants like azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons also gain blueberries. The ingredients in organic amendment mixes for acid-loving plants comprise cottonseed meal, fish bone meal, alfalfa meal, feather meal, mined potassium sulfate and kelp. Commercially available general-purpose adult compost soil combinations also adapt soil to optimum pH levels for growing blueberries. Finished compost has a neutral pH. When mixed with soil it “helps keep the pH at optimum levels for mineral availability,” in accordance with the University of Illinois Extension’s Composting for your Homeowner program.
The United States Highbush Blueberry Council recommends the inclusion of peat moss to prepare any type of soil for blueberry growing. Prepare a planting area 21/2 feet in diameter and 1 foot deep for every blueberry bush. Remove 1/3 into 1/2 of the soil, add an equal amount of moistened peat moss and blend well. One 4-cubic-foot bale of peat moss is enough for four to five antioxidant crops. For raised beds, the Blueberry Council recommends combining equal amounts of peat moss with acidic compost or planting mix.
Mulch also helps in maintaining an acidic soil environment for blueberries. Mulching with sawdust or bark increases soil acidity where needed. Mulch also improves soil tilth as time passes. Blueberry bushes reside 40 to 50 years and need continuing attention to soil health. Mulch improves soil drainage by adding organic matter. Young plants need 2-3 inches of mulch around the plant perimeter and adult plants need up to 6 inches of mulch every year.