Blueberries are one of the most popular fruits. Not only do they have an appealing flavor, they are full of important nutrients.
New plants can be rooted from cuttings. Several methods are used to propagate blueberry plants.
The method discussed here applies to dormant hardwood cutting taken in midwinter. Hardwood cuttings are easier to handle and less perishable than softwood cuttings.
This method has proven to have a high success rate provided care is taken. Varying results are common. Success improves with practice and knowledge.
How to Propagate Blueberry Plants from Hardwood Stem Cuttings
Cuttings are whips or shoots that are cut into several sections about 6 inches long—shorter cutting will not root as well, because they do not have enough stored nutrients.
Discard the upper six inches of the whip. Best results are likely if the cutting is taken from whips that are more than a year old, and about a quarter of an inch in diameter. Older shoots will be generally darker in appearance and larger in diameter.
Take care when cutting whips into sections. Use a sharp cutting instrument that is clean, and can make a clean cut without damaging the stem.
Remove bark from the lower inch of the cuttings. Cut sections at a 45 degree angle. Cut just above node—where a new leaf will form from the stem. Four or five nodes should be present on the cutting.
No Greenhouse is Needed for Blueberry Propagation
A greenhouse is not necessary for propagation by stem cuttings; high humidity around the cutting is essential. Almost any container will do, as long as it has holes in the bottom for drainage.
A shallow container should have a transparent glass or plastic cover. Sandwich bags can be used to cover plants individually.
A deep container, such as a plastic storage box with sides extending five or six inches above the tops of the cuttings is satisfactory, and has the advantage of not needing a lid.
The open top allows excess humidity to escape thus discouraging the growth of fungus. A little extra care must be taken to make certain that the rooting medium does not dry out.
The rooting medium is important. Blueberries grow best in a soil with a pH that is very acidic– 4.8 to 5.0.
A mixture of even parts of sand, pine bark, and sphagnum moss works well, but will likely need the addition of a product to reduce the pH. Sulfur or some commercial product to lower pH can be used.
A meter to measure soil pH can be obtained for less than ten dollars. Allow the medium to sit a day or so checking its pH several times to be sure the pH has stabilized.
Planting the Stem Cuttings in the Medium
The use of a commercially available rooting hormone is recommended. Dip each cutting into the hormone to cover the bottom one inch, and shake off any excess powder—a thin coat is best.
Use a pencil to make holes for the cuttings, so the hormone won’t be scraped away while the cuttings are being inserted. The medium should be deep enough so that the cuttings should not contact the bottom of the container where the medium might be too wet.
Allow four or five inches of clearance between the bottom of the cuttings and the bottom of the container. Cuttings should be spaced far enough apart so that they will not crowd one another when leaves sprout.
Crowding will discourage air circulation and promote fungal growth. Place the container in an east window where they will receive bright morning sun.
It is not likely that all cuttings will sprout. If a fungus appears on the cuttings, remove those that are badly infected and spray the rest with a commercial fungicide.
Moving the New Plants to the Outside
The cuttings will begin to grow as they are awakened by warmth and light. Leaves will likely appear within two to four weeks, but this does not mean that roots have started.
A gentle tug on the cuttings should give considerable resistance when roots are established. Do not transplant to larger containers until healthy growth is evident and the cuttings have doubled in height.
Transplant to a soil with the same pH in individual gallon containers, and allow the new plants to grow until the next planting season in six hours of sunshine a day. The new plants should be transplanted permanently after about a year.
Blueberries are a popular berry fruit that contain many nutrients. New plants can be propagated from hardwood cuttings in mid-winter.
Cuttings should be about six inches long and the rooting medium needs an acidic pH. Care should be taken to use healthy plants for cuttings.
The medium should be kept moist, and high humidity should be provided around the cuttings while they are developing roots. About a year is needed for cuttings to reach maturity.