How to Grow Blueberries From a Berry
Blueberry species such as the highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) and lowbush blueberry (V. angustifolium) serve a dual purpose in landscaping as both an ornamental ground cover and edible crop. They grow best within U.S. Department of Agricultural plant hardiness zones 8 and below, where they will start producing fruit during their second year in the ground.
Growing blueberries from seed is reliable when you’re working with fresh seed, although the resulting shrub may not closely resemble the parent plant. The seeds require no pretreatment to successfully germinate, but chilling them will enhance their germination rate and help ensure a successful outcome.
How to Prepare Blueberry Seeds
Gather blueberries in summer after they ripen to a solid, bluish-black color and the flesh yields to slight pressure. Collect several berries from your favorite blueberry bush to increase the likelihood of locating viable, intact seed.
Place the blueberries in a sealable plastic bag. Store them in the freezer for three months to cold stratify the seeds, which will help fulfill their dormancy requirement and help prompt germination.
Remove the blueberries from the freezer after the cold stratification period has ended. Place the bag on the counter for one to two hours, or until the blueberries have thawed to room temperature.
Fill a blender three-quarters full with fresh water and pour in 3/4 cup of blueberries. Secure the lid. Run the blender for 10 to 15 minutes to macerate the berries.
Pour the blueberry pulp into a large mixing bowl and let it stand for five minutes. Scoop out and discard pulp that floats to the surface. Carefully pour off the excess water. Add fresh water and let it stand for another five minutes.
Pour the contents of the bowl through a fine sieve or wire mesh colander. Collect the tiny, reddish brown seeds from the sieve. Spread them out to dry on a sheet of newspaper.
How to Germinate Blueberry Seeds
Fill 12-inch nursery pots with a moistened mixture of equal parts milled peat, coarse sand and loam. Sprinkle a pinch of blueberry seeds across the surface of the soil. Spread a very scant layer of milled peat over the seeds so they are barely covered.
Place the nursery pots outdoors inside a lightly shaded cold frame. Cover each pot with a sheet of newspaper. Warm the pots to between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit with a germination mat if daytime temperatures stay below 60 F.
Maintain constant moisture in the top inch of soil while the blueberry seeds germinate. Use a plant mister or a spray bottle to water because a watering can or other strong water stream will dislodge the tiny seeds.
Watch for germination in approximately one month. Remove the newspaper and the germination mat after seedlings emerge. Crack open the cold frame to help acclimate the seedlings to normal outdoor conditions.
Thin the blueberry seedlings to two per pot once they grow to 2 inches. Keep the strongest, most vigorous of the seedlings and remove the weaker ones. Snip off the unwanted seedlings at soil-level with small scissors.
Move the nursery pots to a sheltered spot outdoors with dappled shade. Water to a depth of one inch every week. Transplant the blueberries into a sunny or lightly shaded bed with moist, acid soil the following autumn.
How to Grow Blueberries From a Berry. Blueberry species such as the highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) and lowbush blueberry (V. angustifolium) serve a dual purpose in landscaping as both an ornamental ground cover and edible crop. They grow best within U.S. Department of Agricultural plant hardiness zones 8 …
Do Blueberries Have Seeds
Both lowbush and highbush blueberries have seeds. Many people think that the berry is the blueberry seed, but this is not the case. Every blueberry has tiny seeds inside. Before you can plant blueberries from seed, you have to separate the seeds from the berries. Since the seeds are so small, they need to be extracted by mashing the berries.
- Methods for Extracting Blueberry Seeds
- How to Plant Blueberry Seeds
- How to Transplant Blueberry Seedlings
Methods for Extracting Blueberry Seeds
You can use blueberry seeds from blueberries you pick off a bush or berries from the grocery store to grow blueberry bushes. You’ll have better results with freshly picked berries. Lowbush blueberries grow quite well from seeds, and you can plant the seedlings in rows, open fields or as ornamental plantings in your yard. After freezing the blueberries for three months to break their dormancy period, use one of the following methods for extracting the seeds:
- Blender – Add three-quarters of a cup of thawed blueberries to your blender. Add water to fill it about three-quarters full. Blend the berries for about 10 seconds, and then let the seeds settle to the bottom, separating from the pulp. This takes about five minutes. Slowly pour off some of the pulp and add more water. Let the seeds settle to the bottom again. Keep doing this until all the pulp is gone. Take your seeds out of the blender, placing them on paper towels to dry.
- Food Grinder – Place three-quarters of a cup of thawed blueberries in your grinder. Grind them until pulverized, and then pour the pulp into a quart jar. Add some water to the grinder, swirling it around to remove any seeds and pulp. Pour the water into the jar, as well. Place the cap on the jar and allow the seeds to settle to the bottom. Use the steps mentioned for the blender to pour off the pulp, and then dry the seeds in the same way.
- Mash the berries – If you’d rather mash your blueberries by hand, that works too. Place three-quarters of a cup of thawed blueberries in a bowl. Use a pedestal or potato masher to crush the blueberries. Place the mashed berries in a quart jar, and then follow the instructions used for the grinder to separate the seeds from the pulp.
How to Plant Blueberry Seeds
Sometime in January or February, get ready to plant your blueberry seeds indoors. When spring arrives, your blueberry seedlings will be large enough to plant outside. Follow these steps for sowing your seeds:
- Select a 3-inch deep box that’s large enough for the amount of seeds you have.
- Fill the box with ground sphagnum moss. Moisten the moss before placing it in the box.
- Sprinkle the blueberry seeds over the moss.
- Cover the seeds with a thin coating of moss. Make sure you don’t make the moss too thick.
- Place the box in a room where the temperature is from 60° (15.5°) to 70° (21°C).
- Cover the box with newspaper.
- Wait about one month for the blueberry seeds to germinate.
- Take off the newspaper to reveal tiny seedlings.
- Place the seedling box in a sunny location, and keep the seedlings moist.
- Allow the seedlings to grow to 2 or 3 inches tall.
- Carefully transplant the seedlings to pots filled with 2 to 3 inches of a soil mixture made of one-third part peat, one-third part sand, and one-third part soil.
- Place the pots in a sunny spot, and keep the soil moist.
How to Transplant Blueberry Seedlings
Once your blueberry seedlings are potted, keep them inside or in a greenhouse until all danger of frost is past. When it’s time to transplant the blueberries, choose a spot that has acidic soil with a pH of 4.5 to 4.8. Plant the seedlings about 3-feet apart, covering them with 2 inches of organic mulch. The mulch provides nutrients and retains moisture for the transplants.
If your transplants produce any flowers during the first two years, remove them so that the vegetation can grow strong enough to support the berries. Prune your young blueberry bushes annually, removing broken or dead canes. Make sure to keep your blueberry bushes watered throughout the summer months because they have shallow roots that can dry out easily.
Blueberries have seeds that you can extract and plant to grow your own blueberries. Read more about extracting and planting blueberry seeds.