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September 16, 2017


I have five blue berry plants that have four to five feet canes. When do I prune them?


Blueberry plants should be pruned in the winter while they are dormant. After the second growing season, remove a portion of the canes and fruiting twigs to shape the plant and reduce the excess flower buds. Remove any low sprawling or weak branches and cut back any excessively tall canes. Old canes or shoots lose fruitfulness over time. Thus, starting about the fifth year, remove one of the largest, oldest canes for every six canes present on the plant, in addition to the other required pruning. Older blueberry plantings should contain about equal numbers of one-, two-, three-, four- and five-year-old canes to keep them producing at a peak rate.

August 12, 2017

QuestionMy wife and I live in Chenal and very much enjoy eating the wild blueberries that grow so abundantly on the rocky hillsides where we live. If we wanted to gift a small sprig of this bush to a friend to transplant in another part of the State, how would we do that? Should we try to grow a sprig from the berries or cut out one of the many roots that grow just below the surface of the ground



Transplant a small plant this fall when the weather cools off and it should do well.  Transplanting now would be tough on you and the plant. 


February 1, 2017


We haven't been successful the couple of times we tried a blueberry bush in our yard here in Hot Springs.  Do you recommend a particular variety that thrives in Arkansas?



In central Arkansas you can successfully grow either Rabbiteye varieties or Southern Highbush varieties.  You do need two different varieties for cross pollination.  Some good choices of Rabbiteye try Brightwell, Climax, Tifblue or Premier.  For Southern Highbush consider Ozark Blue and Summit (developed by the UA Division of Agriculture) or Legacy.  Blueberries like a high organic matter soil that is very acidic.  Have your soil tested before planting to make sure the pH is low enough.  Mulch and water.  They are not drought-tolerant, but nor can they tolerate wet feet.  Full sun is best.


April 9, 2016


When is the best time to grow cucumbers and blueberries?



Blueberries are permanent plants in the garden. Right now you should have good variety selections at local nurseries and garden centers.  For best production, it is usually good to have two different varieties planted together. Make sure they get full sun and even moisture. Like azaleas, they need acidic soil conditions.  Depending on variety, harvest season is usually late May through mid-July.  For cucumbers, and other warm season vegetables, mid-April is the beginning of planting season. Many people got a little eager this year and planted in mid-March, and are regretting the decision since many plants got nipped back.  Even if plants didn’t get killed, if they are exposed to really low temperatures it can impact their overall growth this season.  Be patient and let the soil temperature and air temps warm up before planting.  Warm season vegetables can be planted from mid-April through early June and then again in late summer for a fall harvest.


(October 2012)

QuestionI am writing to see if you can give me some tips on blueberry cultivation. I've had these bushes for four years and I keep losing one or two each year. I have watered and fertilized in the spring, then used Miracle Grow throughout the summer. Still, they keep dying on the tips and then I soon have a whole branch that is gone. Then the plant dies. These are within easy reach of the hose and I have installed drip irrigation. I had a soil test in January, 2011 which revealed a soil ph of 7.2. I added 10 pounds of sulfur per 1,000 square feet to acidify the soil. They are also mulched with pine needles. They have a few berries but last year the birds wiped them out.


AnswerI think you have a couple of issues. First of all, blueberries need a well drained, acidic soil.  From the pictures you sent me, I think they should be planted a bit higher with mounds of soil and mulch—basically a raised row of soil.  This ensures good drainage.  While they like ample moisture, they can’t tolerate wet feet.  pH is also critical.  They need a very acidic soil around 5-5.5.  7.2 could cause them to die. The last picture showed some pretty yellow leaves with green veins—a sure sign that the pH is too high.  The plants can’t absorb the nutrients in the soil if the pH is not in the proper range, which can cause the iron chlorosis you are experiencing.  Get the pH in range, and mound up the plantings.  Drip irrigation is great. When you lose a plant and dig it up, does it have any roots left, or have they rotted? Mulching with pine needles is great, but make sure the plants aren’t staying too wet and that you don’t have them planted too deep.

(May 2009)

QuestionAll of sudden I've been reading articles in magazines and newspapers about growing blueberry bushes in a pot - Fruit in summer, colorful foliage in fall - Can you recommend a good bush to thrive in Hot Springs Village?


AnswerAlmost any edible vegetable or fruit can be grown in containers and blueberries are no exception.  I would definitely opt for the largest container you can manage to make watering easier.  Blueberries are not drought tolerant.  They like a rich soil with plenty of organic matter, at least 6 hours of sunlight and even moisture.  Hot Springs Village is known for its rocky soil, so raised beds or containers would make planting easier.  You can grow either the southern high bush varieties: Legacy, Summit or Ozarkblue; or the Rabbiteye varieties: Climax, Premier, Brightwell or Tifblue.  Remember you need at least two varieties to grow fruit.  They are beautiful plants with pretty white flowers in the spring, tasty and showy blue berries and outstanding fall color.

(June 2006)

QuestionI barely have any blooms on my blueberries this year.  What am I doing wrong, and what should I do to correct this?  Help!!


AnswerUnfortunately, I don’t have enough information to know how they have done in the past, but I am assuming they have bloomed better in the past.  Blueberries need full sun—at least six to eight hours daily, and more would be better.  They also should be pruned every year, with the ideal plant having 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 year old canes.  Older wood is normally pruned out since it gets less productive with age.  Blueberries like a well amended soil with good drainage, and ample moisture.  They need an acidic soil and periodic fertilization.  If you did not water this past fall and winter when it was so dry, you could have lost some of the flowers.  Many folks don’t think about watering once the temperature cools off, but this past winter was dry.  For now, make sure their site is ideal, water when dry, fertilize and take good care of them.  With proper care, they should rebound and produce better next season.  For this year, there is always the local farmers market!

(Feb. 2009)

QuestionWe moved from Ireland to Rogers, Arkansas a couple of months ago and we purchased a lovely family home with a large back yard. The backyard is currently lawn, with a couple of medium sized trees and a few  beds set away from the grass with low stone walls around the house. I used to be an active gardener back in Ireland, but I am new to this area and don't know what grows well here and when one starts planting.  Once spring starts here I would love to do some gardening in those beds. I am interested in planting some herbs and maybe some berries as I love raspberries and blackberries especially, but they are so expensive to buy in the shops.  I won't be able to spend very much time gardening though, as I have one year old twins and they are a handful!  Can you suggest some herbs and fruit plants for our new home?


AnswerHerbs are very easy to grow, and you can do a variety of both annuals and perennials.  For dry, sunny areas consider the perennial rosemary and thyme.  Oregano, fennel, garlic and sage are also very easy to grow.  Cilantro is best grown in the fall as a winter annual.  Parsely is a biennial and does well for a couple of years.  Basil and dill are both summer annuals and thrive in Arkansas summers with a little bit of water.  Blackberries and blueberries are both easy to grow and require little care, other than occasional pruning and water.  Raspberries are a tad trickier, but they can be grown.  As you have time, you might consider joining the Benton County Master Gardeners.  They have a very active group of gardeners in your area.  You will learn a lot and get to know fellow gardeners in your community.


QuestionWe have approximately thirty blueberry bushes we planted about eight years ago and they are producing beautifully. We have just gotten them well established and now we are moving.  The new owners are planning to build in the spot they are planted.  Is it possible to move blueberry bushes to our new location?


AnswerAlmost any plant can be moved with a little bit of time and care.  If at all possible, wait until the plants go dormant, so you can prune and move at the same time.  If there is any distance involved in the move, make sure the root system is protected from temperature extremes and drying wind and sun.  Have the new site prepared well in advance.  Make sure it is well drained and acidic—have the soil tested and correct as needed prior to planting.  Build up your beds and have ample mulch and moisture ready.  Try to get the plants back in the ground as soon as possible.  I would not try to move them when it is this hot and dry, but if fall is not possible, move as late as you can.

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