Low-chill cultivars thrive in Florida.
Since Florida’s hardiness zones are some of the hottest parts of the US, not all varieties are suitable.
Proper fertilization is as important as other factors for sweet, aromatics, and tangy blueberries.
For best results, fertilize your established blueberry bushes in early spring. Then, fertilize after 45-60 days (late spring). Add a handful of granular fertilizer to the amended soil for new planting.
Let me break this fertilizing schedule down for you.
Best Time To Fertilize Blueberries in Florida:
You should know that blueberries are sensitive to overfertilization as they do not have high nutrient demand.
It is always better to fertilize less rather than more. So, these are the key times for fertilization:
- For your established blueberry bushes, fertilize early in the season when growth begins in early spring.
- Then, fertilize for the second time 45-60 days after the initial application (late spring).
- For new plantings (blueberry bushes), add granular fertilizer (not too much) into the amended soil (having sulfur prills and compost) when planting.
Take a look at the table below:
|When To Fertilize?||Why?|
|First Application: Early Spring||The steady supply of nutrients will allow your blueberry bush to produce maximum foliage early in the season.|
|Second Application: After 45-60 Days (Late Spring)||This dose will provide energy for maximum yield (fruit production).|
|For New Plantings:||Add a handful of granular fertilizer (NOT too much) into the amended soil.|
Let me explain this to you.
First Application: Early Spring
Your blueberry bush has started preparing to produce amazing blueberries (late winter / early spring).
So, it is time to give the blueberry bush its first fertilizer dose.
⭐ This application will allow our blueberry bush to store energy for flower production – More blueberries!
Just remember this simple rule:
Strong early growth → Strong blooming → More berries
Now, you might be wondering, how do I know when to fertilize?
This is the time when new buds begin to open.
This takes us to the second application.
Second Application: After 45-60 Days
Your blueberry bush has used a lot of nutrients to give you delicious blueberries.
Now, it’s time to treat it again.
This will be done roughly after 45-60 days (late spring).
⭐ If you notice signs of nitrogen deficiency (yellowing of leaves), give your blueberry bush its fertilizer dose.
Remember that this dose will provide energy for maximum fruit production (yield).
The secret to achieving more growth and producing healthier and tastier blueberries!
Note: I use the Berry-tone fertilizer. It also recommended awaiting 45-60 days for the second application!
This was all about established bushes.
But what about new plantings?
For New Plantings:
The truth is that they do not need a lot of fertilizer.
Just a handful of granular fertilizer into the soil amendments will be enough to push the growth.
So, at the time of planting, here’s what I add:
- Add compost to the planting hole along with the soil.
- Add sulfur prills.
- Add a handful of granular fertilizer (not too much)
- After planting the blueberry bush, add pine bark mulch.
Your new blueberry bush is on its way to growing and thriving!
Tips for Growing Blueberries Successfully in Florida:
1. Pick the Variety That Suits Florida’s Climate:
For Florida, you have two options:
- Southern Highbush
What makes Southern Highbush cultivars suitable for Florida is their low chilling requirement (roughly 200-600 hours).
Therefore, they are popular in warmer areas of USDA zones 7-10.
Moving on to Rabbiteye varieties, they are native to the Southeastern United States.
They thrive in the climate of Florida (hot summers and mild winters).
Why do I like them?
Despite the early flowering, they ripen a month later than highbush cultivars. In this way, you can extend your harvest season!
They do best in warmer zones 6-9.
This takes us to the next point.
2. Pair Cultivars For Pollination:
A self-fertile blueberry bush is NOT a great option.
This is because it will NOT give you a great harvest.
Therefore, you should plant a pollinator type interplanted for cross-pollination. These two cross-pollinating bushes will give you a greater harvest.
|Southern Highbush Varieties:||Rabbiteye Varieties:|
|– Star |
|– Titan |
– Pink lemonade
To properly pair blueberry bushes in Florida, I recommend this pairing scheme:
This pairing scheme can reward you with a great harvest for both Highbush and Rabbiteye varieties.
This takes us to the next tip.
3. Amend the Planting Site:
Like camellias, azaleas, and hydrangeas, blueberries are acid-loving plants.
This means they need soil with a pH of around 4.5 to 5.5.
To lower your soil pH, I recommend two things:
- Use elemental sulfur prills.
- Use a fertilizer designed for acid-loving plants.
Regarding sulfur prills, the Ohio State University extension has published a table showing the elemental sulfur rate to lower the soil pH.
Important Note: For elemental sulfur to work, the temperature should be at least 55°F (or 12.8°C) for microorganisms to work.
Otherwise, it can do more harm than good.
Remember that pine bark mulch is also a great way to maintain the soil pH.
Best Fertilizer For Blueberries:
Your blueberry bush will respond well to any nitrogen-rich fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants.
This is why any fertilizer sold for rhododendrons or azaleas also works well for blueberries.
You should know that blueberries need fertilizer with an ammonium form of nitrogen. For example, urea, sulfur-coated urea, ammonium sulfate, or cottonseed meal.
With that being said, Espoma Berry-Tone is my favorite.
This is a slow-release organic fertilizer and produces tons of blueberries. The 5% sulfur also keeps the soil pH in check.
However, this product has a strong smell as it comprises natural ingredients (such as fish emulsion). Once you water it down, you won’t smell it anymore.
Apply it according to the package instructions. As it is a granular fertilizer, sprinkle the fertilizer uniformly around the drip line of your blueberry bush.
So, if you plan to grow those delicious blueberries in Florida, this fertilizing schedule will help you.
For good results, fertilize your established blueberry bushes in early spring. Then, fertilize in late spring (45-60 days).
If you have any questions, feel free to ask.
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