How to grow blueberries from cuttings
How to grow blueberries from cuttings

Considered by many to be a bonafide super-food, blueberries have become increasing popular over the years in both the supermarkets and allotments. There are a number of excellent varieties to choose from, however much of the fruit bought today is imported from across the globe as far away as Poland and even Argentina. Not only is this rather ridiculous with regards to air miles, the artificial atmospheres and refrigerated environments take out all the flavour. Of course to get the very best flavour you will need to eat blueberries straight from the bush, but purchasing pot grown plants, let alone planting out a bed load can be expensive. However if you are on a budget or if you need a lot of stock there is an alternative. Produce your own blueberry plans by taking propagation material from established plants.
How to grow blueberries from cuttings
Blueberry cuttings -

If you are only looking for a couple of blueberry bushes and don't mind waiting then long shoots can be layered and pegged down in September. These are usually ready for severing and replanting after one or two years.

Alternatively, and particularly if you are looking to propagate a lot of stock, 3 - 6 inches long semi-ripe cuttings can be taken in July. The 3 inch cuttings will be needed if you are striking into a standard seed tray, however 6 inch cuttings are better but these will need a deeper, bed made inside a shaded cold frame. The timing of this is important. Take your cuttings to late in the year and they will tend to form flower buds rather than roots. Take cuttings to early and the shoots will be too young and succulent and will wilt before rooting can occur.

As a good indication, select cutting material with leaves that are intermediate in colour, between the darkest older leaves and the palest young shoots. Cuttings that snap easily when bent are too young. What you are looking for are stems which are bendable and starting to become woody. Collect cuttings in the morning from plants which have been well watered the night before. Try and strike your cuttings as soon as possible to prevent them from wilting as this will adverse affect their ability to root. If the day is expected to be hot or if there is a delay between taking the cuttings and striking the cuttings then keep the cuttings in a damp container or bag that has a couple of cool packs inside. Do not allow cool packs to touch the cuttings as they can freeze and therefore damage the plant material.

Using standard seed trays, fill with a good quality compost such as John Innes 'Seed and Cutting' or make your own from equal parts by volume moss peat and horticultural grade lime-free sand. Moss peat is naturally acidic which is useful as blueberries are ericaceous. Do not use sedge peat as a substitute as its pH can vary from acid to alkaline depending on where it is from.

Strike the cuttings 2 inches apart in the seed tray, approximately half the cutting should be in the compost.  Gently water and then place inside a shaded cold frame. Keep the compost moist and the atmosphere humid and you can expect your cutting s to have rooted in 6 - 8 weeks. Leave them in place until they go dormant in the autumn. At this point they can be carefully lifted so to avoid damage to the young root systems and either potted on or planted into their final positions.

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