Blueberry bushes can be encouraged to grow faster by giving them regular water in the warmer months, planting them in well-draining soil and protecting them from frosts. Use a good quality fertilizer designed for acid loving plants like blueberries and trim back any old stems.
These tips will give your blueberry plant the best chance of growing as fast as possible. You will get lots of leaf growth and blueberries in no time.
Top reasons why a blueberry plant will grow slow
1. Not enough water
One of the main reasons that blueberries will grow slow is that they are not getting enough water. Blueberries grow well in a sub-tropical climate where there is high rainfall over the summer months. If you live in a dryer area or you have had less rainfall than normal your blueberry will need a water top up.
After planting a new blueberry plant make sure they are given regular water. Test the soil and give it a deep watering if the soil is dry below the top 2 inches. Most commercial blueberry farms will irrigate their plants but at home you should be able to keep up with hand watering.
2. Too much water
Blueberries are a tricky plant and while they love regular water, too much water can cause problems. This will occur more commonly if you have hard, clay soil or compacted soil that does not drain well. When the water sits against the roots for a long time, the roots can rot and cause the plant to die.
The perfect balance is regular water into well-draining soil, this holds the water near the plant long enough for it to absorb the amount it needs, while letting the excess drain through. Overwatered blueberries will start to show black spots on their leaves.
If you suspect that the problem is too much water, limit the water for the next 2 weeks reducing the watering schedule by half the previous amount. Make sure you pay attention to how much it rains and reduce the amount of water you give the plant if you have a rainy day.
3. Poor soil
Poorly draining soil or soil that is low in organic matter or too alkaline will cause blueberries to grow slow. Before planting your blueberries improve the soil with aged cow manure and compost. These are mild fertilizers but contain a lot of carbon and organic matter which is great for drainage.
For blueberries that are already planted out, they can be top dressed with compost to give them an extra boost of nutrients. This will also act as a mulch helping to hold water in poor soils.
Blueberries love slightly acidic soils with a pH between 4.5-5.0 so repot your blueberry into a new pot with some fresh potting soil specifically for azaleas. This will be slightly acidic and you can follow this up with some fertilizer specifically for blueberries.
Check out this blueberry fertilizer from Amazon below.
Blueberry plants that are slow to produce fruit may be missing out on the important step of pollination. If the flowers are not pollinated by passing insects the flowers will simply drop off of the plant and not form berries.
Planting multiple blueberry plants is a great way to attract more pollinating insects or surround them with flowering annual plants or perennials such as African Daisies or Gaura.
These brightly colored flowers will attract more pollinating insects that will come to fertilize the flowers to form blueberries. Blueberry plants do not need a companion but you are more likely to have successful pollination as they all flower at the same time.
5. Weather is too cold
Cold weather will cause blueberry plants to grow slow. Blueberries love warm weather so a cold snap can slow their growth completely.
I have planted my blueberry plant at the end of Fall so it has had all winter to settle in. This has resulted in almost no growth as the plant has stayed dormant over the cold winter. It is great to plant blueberries in fall as they will be settled in and ready to grow quickly in Spring when the weather and soil warms.
Frosts can quickly cause damage to the growing tips of blueberry plants so protecting them with some shade-cloth or geofabric on winter nights and frosty morning might be necessary.
Plant blueberries in full sun to give them the best chance to grow quickly, produce flowers and fruit.
6. Young plants
Blueberry plants can take up to 2-3 years to produce a first crop of blueberries and will produce their peak amounts from 5-8 years old. Many gardeners suggest that the flowers produced in the blueberries first year should be removed to allow the plant to put most of its energy into establishing the root system and stems.
For me, I will be skipping this step because I want to see how quickly I can get berries. I live in a great climate for blueberries, being a subtropical area with lots of rain. I will break the rules and see if I can get blueberries this summer on my brand new plant.
7. Prune in the cooler months
Pruning back old, dead stems and removing some of the older growth to shape the blueberry bush will actually help it to grow faster. Pruning stimulates the plant to grow more stems and to refresh the old ones.
Removing any dead wood or branches will allow new stems to grow through making the plant bushier and fuller. You will eventually get more blueberries and fast growth.
My blueberry bush is not growing! | Summary
Blueberry bushes will grow slow if they are not getting enough water, light or nutrients. Adding a fertilizer that is made for acid loving plants in Spring will give them the extra boost to encourage lots of leaf growth, flowers and eventually berries.
Blueberries are a fun plant to try if you have kids but be prepared to wait up to 3 years for your first big crop.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.