Blueberry pruning rules: when you need it, how to do it and why sometimes you need to prune it to zero

Blueberries are a crop that tolerates pruning very well. Gardeners remove excess shoots even in summer. A bush that grows on its own gives a lot of small berries, and as a result of formation and thinning, it gives the same kilograms of fruits, but they are large, which means they have more juicy and tasty pulp.

Do blueberries need pruning

Removing old, sick, broken, thickening shoots is a must for any fruit crop. Blueberries run wild without pruning: they become overgrown with many weak branches, the juices are spent on their growth, as a result, the berries grow small and tasteless. In addition, pathogenic fungi accumulate in thickened, wind-blown plantings with a mass of dead wood, which lead to decay of leaves, shoots and roots.

Blueberries without pruning: many dry, bare branches, signs of fungal disease are visible on the leaves

When to prune blueberries

Sanitary pruning is carried out all year round, forming - during deep sleep of blueberries, that is, from late autumn to early spring, when there is no sap flow. As for the age of the bush, it is traditionally and erroneously to start pruning in the third year after planting. It is not uncommon for 6–7-year-old bushes to thin out for the first time. Foreign experts recommend starting blueberry formation at the stage when the seedling is still in the container.

How to prune a seedling in a container

Pruning in a container is needed if the volume of the aboveground part clearly exceeds the volume of the clod of earth in the container, that is, the roots do not have time and cannot grow in proportion to the crown. If you bought such a bush, then before planting, remove all short branched growths that come out of the ground.

The seedling in the lower part has grown bushy growths that need to be removed

Only powerful vertically directed shoots should remain. They need to be shortened by a third or even half. In this way, you will achieve a balance between the aboveground and underground parts of the bush. After planting, the pruned crown will take up a minimum of juices, the root system will begin to actively develop and give new strong branches.

Correct blueberry seedlings: 2 strong vertical shoots plus a small growth without branching; root and aerial part are developed in proportion

Pruning blueberries in the first 2 years after planting

Before entering fruiting, blueberries are pruned in order to accelerate the formation of a powerful bush. If you leave the seedlings unattended for 1-2 years, then many short and branched shoots will grow from the ground, and flower buds will form on the tops of the tall and strong ones. All juices will be directed to the formation of the first fruits. But the bush, thickened with weak and short branches, will yield a very modest harvest. In addition, he will not be able to resist diseases, frosts, pests.

That is why in professional gardens where the berries are grown for sale, that is, large and beautiful, formative pruning is carried out from the first year of planting. To do this, remove all bushy growths and twigs of the second order so that up to knee height (30–40 cm above the ground) there is no branching, but only even vertical trunks. And also prune the tops of strong shoots to remove parts of the plant with flower buds.

There are two types of buds on the branches of fruit crops: small ones, from which leaves grow, and larger ones - flower or fruit, usually they are located at the tops of the shoots.

As a result of such pruning in young seedlings, fruiting is pushed back and a strong bush is formed, consisting exclusively of powerful and productive stems.

Video: summer pruning of young blueberries

Phytosanitary Blueberry Pruning

The event is held regularly throughout the season and with blueberries of all ages. In the spring, the frozen tops are removed, in the summer - young still green growths damaged by insects and hail. Pruning is carried out by capturing 1–2 cm of a healthy area. Any wound on a plant is a gateway to various diseases. Fungi grow inside soft and succulent tissues and cannot gain a foothold on smooth, intact branches. By cutting off problematic parts of the plant, you destroy foci of infection and give the bush the strength to form new and healthy stems and branches.

Gradoboin on a vine shoot: soft tissues are exposed, the leaf receives little nutrition, signs of the disease are visible

Disinfect tools before and after trimming - wipe the blades with alcohol. Treat the whole plant with a fungicide, for example, Bordeaux liquid, Skor and others. During fruiting, you can spray with Fitosporin.

Pruning an adult bush

3-4 years after planting, the following is removed from a formed and fruiting bush:

  • all horizontal branches up to the first strong shoot growing vertically upwards;
  • twigs of the second order, growing down and deep into the crown;
  • tops damaged by frost, diseases and pests;
  • all bushy low shoots and branches of the second order on the main fruiting stems below knee level.

To prevent vertical shoots from turning into horizontal ones under the weight of the berries, tie them to stakes. This is especially true for tall varieties.

In addition to such thinning pruning, it is necessary to organize a fruit conveyor. To do this, cut out old lignified branches with cracked bark, they are left to replace them with the same number of strong and young ones that have grown from the root. A fruiting blueberry bush consists of 10-15 skeletal branches, and in a neglected, growing without pruning - of 20 or more.

Video: rules for pruning fruiting blueberries

When blueberries need to be cut to zero

There are three situations where you need to trim the entire bush to ground level:

  1. It is necessary to save the dying bush. It was hot, you didn't water the blueberries, they are drying up. Cut off all shoots and provide constant moisture to the remaining root. Not immediately, but within 2-3 years a new bush will grow from it.
  2. Blueberries are abandoned, run wild, they have not been cut for 5-6 years or more.
  3. After a long period of fruiting, many stems have formed, the berries are tied small, there are few of them. Experienced gardeners recommend cutting the bushes to zero (rejuvenating), without waiting for a decline in yield, that is, after 2-3 years of abundant fruiting. In order not to be completely without berries, grow several blueberry bushes and rejuvenate them in turn.

Follow the rules for pruning blueberries, and they will delight you with an excellent harvest.

Gardening tips for pruning blueberries

The goal of pruning is to get a healthy and productive shrub with only upright shoots with strong lateral growths at the top. Any branching is excluded in the lower part of the bush. The first two years after planting, we form a bush, and during the fruiting period we remove the old thick stems. Throughout the entire cultivation, we carry out thinning and sanitary pruning.

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To understand the principle of pruning blueberries, you need to know the structure and developmental features of this culture. An adult bush consists of shoots of different ages. Fruiting occurs on two-year-old branches and older, or rather, on their lateral branches. Old branches, having fruited 4–5 years, are inferior in yield to young ones. The bush renews itself, throwing out new replacement shoots every year.

The blueberry bush consists of fruiting lignified branches and annual straight replacement shoots with a lighter bark

Young annual stems can be recognized by the smooth bark of a bright color, they do not have twigs of the second order, and 2-3-year-olds are already lignified, have branches. On the oldest stems, the lateral fruit branches are short, densely arranged, small berries grow on them. And on younger and more productive branches, these shoots are longer, which means they are stronger, the harvest on them will be richer. As a rule, berries are not tied at all up to a height of 30–40 cm above the ground.

Bunches of blueberry berries are formed on the tops of the side branches, the longer and farther from each other they are, the larger the berries

In order for the harvest to be richer, and the fruits to be distinguished by a beautiful presentation, about 10 fruiting branches and 3-4 annual replacement shoots are left in the bush on industrial plantations. In home gardens, blueberry bushes are often grown thicker, more berries grow on them, but they are smaller. Knowing all these nuances, you can already understand which stems and twigs need to be removed when forming, thinning or rejuvenating a blueberry bush.

Blueberry is a branchy shrub up to 1 m high (varietal plants are higher). The stem is almost completely woody. The appearance of blueberries and blueberries is very similar, but the berries of the first are larger:

By adjusting the number of stems in the bush, you can grow many small berries or fewer but larger ones.


To begin with, there are two species that should not be confused - tall blueberries and marsh blueberries (the one that grows in our forests). Basically, the first species is planted on the plots. But the second also deserves attention.

The tall blueberry is native to North America, where it is found along the Atlantic coastline. At the beginning of the XX century. it was cultivated by the American botanist F.V. Covill. To date, more than 60 varieties of this crop have been bred in the United States, and the area of ​​its plantings exceeds 10,000 hectares. Over time, she moved to European countries: Holland, Germany, Austria, Poland.

Berries of tall blueberries are valuable both as a food product and as a medicinal raw material. Fresh, due to its taste and juiciness, it is an excellent dietary product that does not cause any allergic reactions. The largest amount of sugars (9-9.5%) is contained in the fruits of the varieties C cam mel, Ran-kokas, Blurei, in the rest - from 7.8% to 8.4%. The content of organic acids is 0.54-0.78%. The pectin substances contained in the berries remove salts of heavy metals (lead, cobalt, strontium, etc.) from the body, have anti-atherosclerotic and antibacterial effects. The fruits contain many vitamins of group B, C, A, PP (nicotinic acid) and microelements.

In official medicine, blueberry fruits are recommended for enterocolitis, pyelitis, in folk medicine - for dysentery, scurvy, and a decoction of the leaves is used in the treatment of diabetes mellitus.

Highbush blueberries belong to the lingonberry family, the blueberry genus. It is a deciduous, branched shrub with a height of 1.3-2.5 m and a width of 1.5-2.5 m. The plant is distinguished by its rapid growth and good shoot-forming ability. Depending on the nature of growth and how they are located on the plant, the shoots are divided into formation shoots and branching shoots.

Formation shoots are zero shoots that emerge from underground buds or buds located at the base of old stems. They are powerful and give an increase of 0.5-1 m per season. Often their growth is delayed until the onset of frost, and the tops freeze.

The next year, branching shoots sprout from the axillary buds of the formation shoots, the length of which does not exceed 8-20 cm.Flower buds are laid on the tops and in the axils of the upper leaves, which determine the harvest of the next year From the vegetative buds located in the axils of the lower leaves, for the next year branching shoots of the second order develop. The higher the branching order, the shorter they are (branching shoots of the 4-5th orders are only 3-5 cm long).

The vegetative and generative buds of tall blueberry vary in shape and size. Flower buds are rounded, located on the tops of the branching shoots of last year's growth. They are much larger than vegetative ones - their length is 5.5-6.8 mm. Vegetative buds are small, oblong, 2.5-3 mm long. They are located in the axils of the leaves of the formation shoots and branching shoots along their entire length.

The leaves of this blueberry are large, dark green, elliptical or round in shape. Before autumn leaves, they turn yellow-orange or red. Flowers are collected in 6-10 pieces in racemose inflorescences located at the ends of the shoots and in the axils of the upper leaves. The flowers are large, white with a pink tint, bell-shaped, corolla length 10-12 mm.

The plant is self-fertile, but the yield increases if at least two varieties are planted on the site. Blueberries are pollinated by bees, bumblebees, and other insects. In the middle lane, flowering begins in the second half of May and lasts 3-4 weeks.

The fruit is a blue or dark blue berry with a bluish bloom, rounded in shape with a flattened top. Ripe fruits retain the calyx. The size of the berries depends on the variety and location in the cluster. The first ripe berries in the cluster are often larger than the next ones. The diameter of the berries is 15-25 mm, weight is 1-3.4 g. The pulp is light, dense, with a light non-coloring juice. The taste is sweet and sour, pleasant. One berry contains from 10 to 80 seeds. Ripen in the middle lane, depending on the variety and weather conditions, from mid-July to late September. Ripe fruits do not fall for up to 12 days, which is convenient for harvesting.

The duration of the growing season is 160-165 days; in the middle lane, the plants manage to complete the seasonal cycle before the end of the growing season.

The root system is fibrous, highly branched, and has no main root. About 90% of all roots are located in the upper soil layer at a depth of 15 cm, the rest penetrate deep to 45 cm. The roots do not have root hairs, which in other plants absorb water and absorb nutrients from the soil. The functions of these hairs are performed by fungi, which enter into symbiosis with the root (endotrophic mycorrhiza).

Types of cherry pruning

In horticulture, three types of pruning of cherry trees are used:

  1. Formative pruning - this type of pruning involves performing some actions aimed at forming a solid skeletal base of the tree. In this case, there is a procedure for pruning branches on different tiers of the crown. Formative pruning allows you to lay the foundation for the development of the cherry tree in subsequent years, which has a positive effect on the ripening of a rich harvest and increases the tree's resistance to infections.
  2. Rejuvenating pruning is necessary when forming the crown of old, very overgrown trees that have ceased to produce crops. The rejuvenating effect will become noticeable as early as next spring, when the cherry blossoms again profusely and sets a lot of fruit. Rejuvenating pruning is carried out after the fruit has been harvested, and the tree will regain its strength a little. Usually, the beginning of pruning work is timed to the beginning of autumn.
  3. Pruning cherry trees in the fall is essential for sanitary purposes to reduce the risk of infection. Over the summer, some branches on the tree are infected with pathogenic infections, therefore, during autumn pruning, it is necessary to get rid of infected branches. The cut parts of the cherry branches must be burned.

Pruning scheme for adult cherries

  • Pruning during fruiting - indicated for severe damage to the branches during the release of the crop. Broken branches are not uncommon if a significant number of fruits have ripened on them, increasing the total weight. Also, damage to the crown is possible with strong wind, rain, especially rainfall with hail. Pruning cherry branches with ripening berries must be done carefully and carefully, in the most extreme case, when necessary.

  • Watch the video: How and When to Prune Blueberry Plants

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