Growing Blueberries From Fruit
Tasty, tart blueberries are healthy fruits loaded with vitamins A, C and I. Inside the small, blue fruit are tiny blueberry seeds. Start growing blueberries from fruit by planting the seeds in an area with rich, moist soil. It usually takes at least two years before blueberry bushes produce fruit, so be prepared to wait.
Harvest seeds from blueberries you have collected in the wild or from your grocer’s produce section. A friend is nice enough to invite me and let me collect berries every summer.
Collecting Blueberry Seeds
Pick large ripe fruit. I collect seeds by placing blueberries in a container with about twice as much water. Then I blend it at high speed for a few seconds to mush up the fruit. The fruit pulp floats while all the viable seeds sink. This process does not damage the tiny seeds.
Poor out most of the water, gently to get rid of as much blueberry pulp as possible. Add more water and wait for the seeds to settle and the leftover pulp to float. Repeat this process if necessary. Once the blueberry seeds look clean and the water is clear, I just poor the content of my dish in coffee filter or fine mesh strainer.
Drying Blueberry Seeds
We spread out the blueberry seeds on thick layers of newspaper to dry. The room should be warm and dry with good air circulation. I leave them out to dry for a couple of days. Time varies depending on heat and humidity in the air.
After about 5-6 days the blueberry seeds are thoroughly dry, and we place them in dated and labelled paper envelopes.
Storing Blueberry Seeds
Storing blueberry seeds is easy and assures you a supply of viable seeds for long term use. Place you paper envelopes containing the seeds in an airtight container. Place container in dark, cool place like basement or garage. Seeds will stay viable for years.
Germinating Blueberry Seeds
Blueberry seeds, like many perennials need a period of cold stratification in order to achieve a good germination rate. Notice I said, “good germination rate”. Without stratification, some seeds could germinate, but it’s not worth the effort because most seed will stay dormant.
Manny sources recommend using peat, a combination of peat and sand, or vermiculite as the medium for cold stratifying seeds.The medium must be sterile to prevent harm to the seed by pathogens including fungi.
Soaking the seeds in cold water for 6 -12 hours immediately before placing them in cold stratification can cut down on the amount of time needed for stratification, as the seed needs to absorb some moisture to enable the chemical changes that take place.
Stratification of blueberry seeds should be done with temperatures of at least 32°F for about 90 days. Please note that storing your seeds in the freezer is not stratification. It is merely storing seeds.
Growing Blueberry Plants in Pots During the Winter
Winter sowing is a method of growing your blueberry seeds in pots outdoors during the winter. This is generally done with seeds that require a period of cold stratification. The method takes advantage of natural temperatures, rather than artificially refrigerating seeds, allowing them to germinate in spring.
On a final note, blueberry plants are self fertile, meaning you only need one plant to get blueberries. Yield is considerably increased with the introduction of another kind of blueberry plant. Attracting pollinator insects is also beneficial if you want increased yields of berries.
Soil Preparation For Blueberries
The most important thing to understand is that blueberry plants are acid soil-loving plant. Sandy, aerated efficacious soil, rich in nutrients is a must, with a PH no higher than about 5.0.This makes them ideal candidates for growing in pots and containers – as you can maintain better control over the soil. Collect pine needles from the floor of a nearby forest and sprinkle them on the soil around the blueberry plant – this will supplement the soil to make it more acidic.
Keep in full sun and you’ll have blueberries every year during mid-summer for years to come.