How to Graft or Clone Blueberries
Blueberries (Vaccinium spp.) are a popular home garden plant for the healthful berries they produce, as well as their ornamental characteristics. They can be grown in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 to 10, though not all varieties are suitable for all zones. However, the same propagation methods can be used on any type of blueberry. Unlike most fruit trees, which require the relatively complex procedure of grafting to reproduce them, blueberries are cloned by the simple process of taking softwood cuttings.
Locate a healthy, disease-free blueberry bush that is known to produce good quality fruit. Select a long straight stem and remove it using sterilized garden pruners. Remove the leaves and divide the stem into cuttings of 4 to 6 inches in length. Older wood that is over one-half inch in diameter should be discarded, as well as wood from the tip of the branch that is less than one-eighth inch in diameter. The best results will be from wood that is still green, known as “softwood.”
Mix equal parts peat moss and perlite for use as a rooting medium and fill the pots. These materials are usually available in garden centers. Wet the medium thoroughly and tamp gently to remove air pockets.
Place up to four cuttings in each pot, being sure that they are oriented in the same direction as they were on the plant they came from. Upside down cuttings will not root. It is important that at least one leaf “node” is below the rooting medium and one is above. The leaf nodes are the small protrusions along the stem that the leaves grow from. This is important because roots will form at any nodes in the rooting medium and new leaves will grow from the upper nodes.
Cut the top 4 inches off the plastic bottle and place the bottom section upside down over the cuttings inside each pot. Push the edge of the bottle down into the rooting medium to form an enclosure over the cuttings like a tiny greenhouse. This holds moisture in the air around the cuttings to prevent them from drying out while they are forming roots. Locate the pots in a warm sunny window, but away from extreme afternoon heat.
Mist the cuttings once a day and check for growth. They should start to push out new leaves within two to three weeks. If the top of the cutting turns brown and appears dead, it should be removed. This will likely occur with at least 20 to 30 percent of the cuttings, even under the best conditions.
Transplant cuttings to individual gallon size pots after 1 to 2 inches of new growth has occurred from the top of the stem. The new top growth indicates that sufficient roots have developed to sustain the plant; this usually occurs within one to three months. Allow the new plants to develop for a full growing season before planting in a permanent location in the garden.
How to Graft or Clone Blueberries. Blueberries (Vaccinium spp.) are a popular home garden plant for the healthful berries they produce, as well as their ornamental characteristics. They can be grown in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 to 10, though not all varieties are suitable for all zones. …
Propagating Blueberries – How To Propagate Blueberry Bushes
As long as you have acidic soil, blueberry bushes are a real asset to the garden. Even if you don’t, you can grow them in containers. And they’re worth having for their delicious, abundant fruit that’s always better fresh than in the store. You can buy blueberry bushes at most nurseries, but if you’re feeling brave, it’s always fun to try propagating things yourself. Keep reading to learn more about how to start a blueberry bush.
Methods for Propagating Blueberries
There are several ways to propagate blueberries. These include seed, sucker and cutting propagation.
Seed Propagating Blueberries
Growing blueberries from seeds is possible, but it tends to be restricted to lowbush blueberry plants. Blueberry seeds are tiny, so it’s easiest to separate them from the fruit in large batches.
First, freeze the blueberries for 90 days to stratify the seeds. Then pulse the berries in a blender with plenty of water and scoop off the pulp that rises to the top. Keep doing this until you have a good number of seeds left in the water.
Sprinkle the seeds evenly in moist sphagnum moss and cover lightly. Keep the medium moist but not soaked and in a somewhat dark location until germination, which should occur within one month. At this time the seedlings can be given more light.
Once they’ve reached about 2-3 inches (5-8 cm.) tall, you can carefully transplant to individual pots. Water well and keep in a sunny location. Set them out in the garden after the threat of frost has passed.
Growing Blueberry Suckers
Blueberry bushes will sometimes put up new shoots several inches from the base of the main plant. Carefully dig these up with roots attached. Prune back some of the stem before transplanting, or the small amount of roots won’t be able to support the plant.
Growing sucker plants from blueberries is easy. Simply pot them up in a 50/50 mix of potting soil and sphagnum peat moss, which should provide enough acidity as they form new growth. Give them plenty of water but don’t drench the plants.
Once the suckers have formed adequate new growth, they can be transplanted to the garden or you can continue growing the plants in containers.
Growing Blueberry Bushes from Cuttings
Another very popular method of propagation is growing blueberry bushes from cuttings. Blueberries can be grown from both hard and softwood cuttings.
Hardwood cuttings – Harvest hardwood cuttings in late winter, after the bush has gone dormant. Select a healthy looking stem that’s one year old (last year’s new growth) and cut it into 5 inch (13 cm.) lengths. Stick the cuttings in growing medium and keep them warm and moist. By spring they should have rooted and produced new growth and be ready to transplant outside.
Softwood cuttings – In early spring, select a healthy looking shoot and cut off the last 5 inches (13 cm.) of that season’s new growth. The cuttings should be starting to get woody but still flexible. Remove all but the top 2 or 3 leaves. Never let the cuttings dry out, and plant them immediately in moist growing medium.
As long as you have acidic soil, blueberry bushes are a real asset to the garden. Even if you don?t, you can grow them well in containers. Learn more about how to propagate blueberry bushes in this article so you can enjoy their tasty fruit.