A recent comment posted here inquired into the possibility of relocating blueberry bushes that held special sentimental value for one Northern gardener and her family…
“My grandparents have recently passed away and they had 25 blueberry bushes. We would like to move some of these to our house as their property will be sold.”
“Could you recommend how we would do this? Do you think it will work? We live in Central Massachusetts. And we would have to do this as soon as possible. Thank you for your help.”
Moving Established Blueberry Bushes
Brenda, my sincere condolences regarding your loss. I can understand your desire to relocate the plants and preserve some of the memories that may be connected with the blueberries that were raised by your grandparents. Sure you can move the plants, but the ease or difficulty in doing so will depend on the age, variety, and size of the plants.
A young, small, blueberry plant, or one of the dwarfing blueberry varieties shouldn’t be too difficult to carefully dig up and relocate to a new location. Try to keep as much of the root system intact as possible and use a large container or wrap in burlap to transport. The ideal time for the move would be in the fall or spring when the plant is dormant.
Blueberry Plant Propagation and Multiplication
On the other hand, mature, full-grown, and established blueberry plants would be almost impossible to dig up and move with any degree of ease. In that case the best option would probably be to take cuttings or make a layering of the established plants to create new plants that will continue and be identical to the originals.
Spring would be the best season to attempt to propagate the blueberries by layering. There are many different forms of plant layering that all take advantage of a plant’s natural drives to heal itself and multiply.
Air Layering Propagation Techniques
Air layering can be accomplished by slicing away a thin inch-long strip of the bark from one side of an upright branch. Cut a piece of bark away and wrap the wound with moist sphagnum moss that is then covered with plastic to help maintain the moisture.
If successful, roots will eventually grow from the location where the plant was wounded and bandaged with the moss. After the roots have produced strong root growth the plant can be severed from the parent and is ready to be moved and replanted.
Other Plant Layering Methods
Layering can also be done by allowing the roots to form in the ground rather than in the “air.” Start by wounding a young, flexible branch just like before, but instead of wrapping the wound you will pin it to the ground and cover it with soil until the branch has a chance to respond and produce a new root system.
Here’s a link to a site that shows illustrations and provides more information on the various types and techniques for layering. When layering you can also purchase rooting hormones that can be applied to the wound to speed up the process and increase the probability of successful rooting. Some garden centers sell air layering kits and devices to hold and promote the new root system.
Using Cuttings to Create New Blueberry Plants
Look around the base of your blueberry plants as sometimes you can find shoots or new plants that are growing up from the soil. Use a sharp spade to sever and divide these shoots along with their root system from the mother plant.
Finally, I have never tried to propagate a blueberry plant from cuttings but Kerry shared an article last winter about her experiences with propagating blueberries from cuttings that were taken from the plants. I’m not sure of the ultimate outcome but she appeared to have some success with rooting the blueberry cuttings.
So you have a number of options to move or propagate your grandparent’s blueberry bushes. Whatever route you take, don’t forget that blueberries prefer to grow in an acidic soil type. Test the soil’s pH and amend it as necessary to increase the acidity before planting or relocating the blueberries.
Good luck with moving or propagating the blueberry plants, and if anyone has additional suggestions for Brenda feel free to chime in with your comments below.
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