Propagating Blueberries from Suckers (Side Shoots)
Updated: Mar 22, 2019
Did you know that you can get extra blueberry plants from your existing blueberries?!
Here's a quick video on the whole process, with more in depth information below!
Blueberries send up suckers (side shoots) that can be separated from the mother plant and be planted as new individual plants.
A lot of people prune out these suckers or cut the grass so close to the blueberries, that these suckers get cut down before they have a chance to develop.
The actual mother plant is not shown in the picture below. It is just out of frame to the right. This particular blueberry is a Powder Blue rabbiteye variety, and the mother plant is about 4 years old.
These suckers in the picture are either one or two years old. A healthy blueberry bush can start sending suckers up at about the 3 or 4 year mark. As you can see, they can grow fast! The taller one is about 4 feet tall!
They tend to grow in groups too, which makes them easier to dig up together.
When you dig them up, the root is usually coming straight from the mother plant to the new shoot, is very thick, and can be a little difficult to cut. The new shoots may not have developed roots directly under them yet, so you may want to cut them off kind of close to the mother plant, being careful not to damage the mother plant's roots though.
I use a transplanting shovel with a long blade which seems to help a lot. :)
Here's a close up of one of the plants with a healthy little root system and lots of healthy buds!
I try to leave the dirt on the roots as much as possible so they will be spread out well and have the least amount of transplant shock.
Finding a moist place for blueberries has worked best for me, as they don't handle extreme heat and drought very well from my experience.
It is very hard to do, but I prune off most of the top of the blueberry when I transplant it, leaving only about 6 to 8 inches. It hurts me on the inside a little every time I do it, but I know that it will help the plant grow best in its new spot.
This will be the last time it has a major prune though! From here on out, it will be left to grow in its natural form, with only very small corrective pruning done, if needed. From my experience, this has led to very vigorous and highly fruitful plants!
After transplanting it, I mulch it with mostly slightly shredded leaves and sometimes aged grass clippings, to help develop healthy soil and retain moisture.
I hope this was helpful and encourages you to let your blueberries form some suckers, so you can increase your food forest!
If you don't have blueberries growing yet, it's never too late to plant some! :)
Leave me a comment, and I'll do my best to respond to you quickly!
Also here is a link to continue the discussion at https://permies.com/t/107553/berry/Free-Blueberry-Plants-Existing-Bushes