Blueberry Bonus: how to grow on your site

In Russia, it is not yet customary to grow blueberries on an industrial scale, although people who have a plot tend to plant a couple of bushes of this useful crop on it for their own needs. Novice gardeners often choose Bonus blueberries as an ornamental shrub. This variety has other advantages as well.

Blueberry Bonus: a history of cultivation

The Bonus variety is considered young, but at the same time very promising - mainly due to its large berries. It was bred by breeders of the University of Michigan from the Tall Vaccinium - a wild deciduous shrub that is found in some states of North America and eastern Canada. The exact date of the appearance of the variety is not mentioned in the sources.

The Bonus variety belongs to the northern tall ones and has a high frost resistance.

The bonus applies to northern tall varieties of American (according to some sources - Canadian) blueberries. These varieties are distinguished by relatively late flowering and good frost resistance. Generative blueberry buds need cold for normal fruiting: 800-1100 hours of temperatures below 7 ° C are optimal conditions. Lowering the temperature in winter to -28–32 ° С does not pose a threat to the death of the plant. However, most gardeners cover bushes like blackberries or grapes - at least with agrofibre. Northern tall varieties grow best on well-drained light soils that are rich in organic matter.

Video: tall blueberry varieties

Description of the variety

In appearance, Bonus blueberries are not much different from other tall varieties. The average height of the bush is 1.2–1.5 m, sometimes it reaches 1.6 m. The habitus of the bush is raised and spreading - up to 1.25 m in width. Shoots of an adult plant are lignified, powerful, 2-3 centimeters in girth, brown. Old branches gradually die off, being replaced by new ones, young shoots increase the height of the stem.

Blueberry bush Bonus high and spreading, powerful shoots, brown

Leaves are smooth, ellipsoidal, with short petioles. By autumn they turn red - therefore it is believed that the plant during this period greatly decorates the garden. The sprout buds are elongated, formed along the entire length of the branch, in the leaf axils, while the flower buds are larger and rounded in shape and are located only at the ends of the shoots. Each of the flower buds can produce from 5 to 10 flowers per cluster - white or pale pink in color, resembling bells.

Bonus flowers are white or pale pink, they look like a bell

The berries are very large - their diameter can exceed 30 mm, which is comparable only to the large-sized Chandler variety. In both wild and cultivated plants, fruits of this size are extremely rare. The berries are collected in tight brushes, have a light blue color, covered with a dense wax coating. The skin is dense, with a small scar, the flesh is greenish, with a pleasant sweet taste. Interestingly, the berries do not leave any characteristic hard-to-remove marks on the skin and clothes.

Blueberry Bonus: characteristics

The Bonus variety is best suited for growing in cold and temperate regions. Most often, this blueberry can be found on the territory of Ukraine and in central Russia, although amateur gardeners try to grow it almost everywhere. When planting a plant in the northern regions, it is necessary to provide it with a good winter shelter.

In the USA, most of the countries of Europe and Australia have long appreciated the benefits of blueberries, therefore they are engaged in its cultivation on an industrial scale. But in the post-Soviet space, these plants are usually planted privately for their own use or for sale in the local market. Berries of impressive size and pleasant taste are perfect for these purposes.

Berries of the Bonus variety are quite impressive in size - they can reach 30 mm

The bonus applies to mid-late varieties - the berries begin to ripen at the end of July. In the Moscow region, fruit ripening begins in the last decade of August and lasts until the end of September. The fruits are suitable for fresh consumption, for processing or freezing. The berries tolerate transportation well - even over long distances. The plant is resistant to most dangerous diseases.

Foreign sources position Bonus as a self-pollinating variety, however, in practice, for good fruiting of a shrub, the presence of other pollinators next to it is necessary. The flowering period of pollinators must necessarily coincide with the flowering of the plant. Productivity at the level of ordinary medium-sized varieties - from 5 to 8 kilograms per bush. The bush begins to bear fruit in full force from 3-4 years of age.

Growing features

Blueberry seedlings can be purchased at any garden center - their cost is quite high, so before planting it is important to carefully study the rules for planting and caring for the plant.

Blueberry seedlings are sold in garden centers

Site selection

Blueberries of any variety love sunny, well-ventilated areas. The shrub prefers acidic and light, but moisture-absorbing soils, containing more than 8% humus and 3.5% of nutrients. The best soil types for blueberries are sandy and peaty. Blueberries cannot be grown on heavy and dense loams.

Blueberries of the Bonus variety develop well and bear fruit abundantly when the soil acidity is ph = 3.5–4.8, the lower limit is ph = 5.5. To measure the acidity of the soil, special devices are usually used - indicators or acid meters. At home, the easiest way to determine acidity is with strips of litmus paper, which are sold in chemical stores. A color indicator with a pH reference scale is included with the strips.

To measure the acidity of the soil with a litmus test, you need to carry out the following manipulations:

  1. Dig a hole about 35 cm deep in the area prepared for planting.
  2. Pick up 20 grams of soil from the vertical walls of the groove. The earth must be collected in at least four different places of the hole.
  3. Mix the soil well, moisten with distilled water and firmly squeeze the wet earth together with litmus paper.

If everything is done correctly, the paper will change color in accordance with the acidity of the soil. You just have to quickly apply the strip to the color indicator and check the pH value. Strongly acidic soil will be red, medium acidic - pink, and slightly acidic - yellow. Soil with neutral acidity is greenish-blue, and with an alkaline reaction - from light green to dark blue. You will see the exact pH values ​​on the indicator.

To find out the exact pH value, attach a litmus paper to the reference scale

Acidity can be checked without special devices, focusing on some of the visual characteristics of the soil. For example, if the water in the depressions in an undeveloped area has a rusty hue, an iridescent, like an oil film is visible on its surface, and after absorption, a yellow-brown sediment remains, the soil is very acidic. Also pay attention to which plants grow best on the site. On acidic soil, plantain, buttercup, daisy, horsetail, horse sorrel and mint usually settle. Clover, wild rose, wheatgrass, burdock and chamomile live well on slightly acidic soils. Poppy and bindweed grow on alkaline soil, and quinoa, nettle and red clover grow on neutral soil. There are other popular methods for determining acidity, but they give very abstract results, so it's still easier and more reliable to use litmus paper.

Let's say the acidity index in your area does not correspond to the values ​​necessary for the normal growth of blueberries.

  • If the acidity of the soil is too low (pH = 6.5-7.5), it should be increased by adding sour peat (1.5 kg per 1 sq. M of land), sulfur (70 g per sq. M.), Ammonium sulfate or orthophosphoric acid. In the future, to maintain the required acidity level, regularly water the area with the plants planted on it with acidified water (10 liters per 1 sq. M.). To obtain such a liquid, dissolve 1.5–2 tablespoons of oxalic or citric acid in 10 liters of water. For the same purpose, you can use 9% vinegar (100 g per 10 liters of water). It will be very useful to check the acidity of the water itself - if the pH of the liquid with which you water the plants is higher than 5.5, then over time the soil on the site will acquire the same indicator. If the water has a high pH, ​​water the blueberries with an acidified solution once a week throughout the growing season. If the pH is within the normal range, watering with acidified water is carried out 1-2 times a month.
  • Excessively high acidity (pH = 4 or less) is lowered with lime (50–70 kg per hundred square meters), wood ash (7 kg per 10 sq. M.) Or dolomite flour. To maintain the acidity at the desired level, 45 kg of lime are added to each hundred square meters of the site at least once every 10 years. It is considered optimal to carry out liming once every 3-4 years. Do not add lime to the soil at the same time as manure - lime compounds react with nitrogen fertilizers, helping to remove nitrogen from them, so the effectiveness of feeding is reduced to zero.

All of the above funds are used about six months before planting, in extreme cases - 2-3 months before it. It is best to add them to the soil in the fall, during digging. If you are planning an autumn planting, you need to adjust the pH in the spring.

Reduced acidity leads to the defeat of blueberry bushes with various diseases, but excessively acidic soil is much more dangerous. In acidic soil, soil microorganisms lose their activity, contributing to the development of plants and their fruiting. The amount of voids in the soil is minimized, underground life almost completely freezes. The roots of plants cease to normally absorb moisture and receive the amount of air they need, as a result of which the growth of the bushes stops, chlorosis develops on the leaves, and the harvest becomes scanty (provided that there is any at all). Therefore, be sure to ensure that the acidity level remains within the required range.

Increased acidity of the soil in the area where blueberries grow leads to the development of leaf chlorosis

Planting process

It is best to start planting blueberries in the spring, after the late frosts have passed. Some sources claim that it is better to plant plants in the fall so that they have time to form a good root system, but this principle greatly increases the likelihood of young bushes freezing out. For planting, seedlings are used that have reached two or three years of age.

  1. First of all, in the area where you plan to plant, you need to measure the pH. If you plan to plant blueberries in the spring, you should do so in the fall and vice versa. Take steps to regulate soil acidity if necessary.
  2. Immediately before planting blueberries, a 1x1 meter hole is dug on the site (since the variety is tall) for each bush, observing a gap of 1.5-1.8 meters between them. If you plan to plant in trenches, their depth should be at least 50-60 cm. Row spacing - 3 meters. Landing should be done in a north-south direction.
  3. If you know that the groundwater on the site is located close to the soil surface, be sure to provide the plants with good drainage by pouring expanded clay, broken bricks, etc. on the bottom of the pit in a layer of 5-10 cm. If not, a drainage layer will not be superfluous and blueberries won't hurt.
  4. The pot with the seedling is placed in a container with water until the earthen coma is soaked. Experienced gardeners recommend making a shallow X-shaped incision on the rhizome of the plant after softening the substrate.
  5. The wells are flooded with water and wait until it is completely absorbed.
  6. Young bushes are planted in prepared pits, spreading the roots horizontally, and sprinkled with acidic soil. The most productive mixture is high moor peat mixed with pine needles, bark and cones in a 1: 1 ratio, or peat with 10% sand added.
  7. The trunk circle of each plant is mulched with needles or rotted sawdust mixed with peat by 8-10 cm. Fresh sawdust cannot be used for mulching - in this case, there is a high risk of nitrogen starvation, which will negatively affect the development of the bush and subsequent fruiting.

Video: Secrets of Successful Blueberry Planting

Blueberry care

The principle of growing blueberries Bonus is in many ways similar to the agricultural technology of other varieties of this plant. Particular attention is paid to correct and timely feeding, as well as watering the bush.

  1. Watering blueberries should be of high quality and sufficient, since the light soil in which it grows quickly dehydrates, and drying out of the soil entails a slowdown in the development of the bush and chopping of berries. Therefore, water the plants regularly, adding a bucket of water to each mature shrub, and try to maintain a moderate soil moisture. In areas with low acidity, irrigate periodically with acidified water. If the temperature is high outside, it is very useful to cool the bushes by spraying, but this should be done no earlier than 16 hours.
  2. It is necessary to feed the bushes three times a year: at the very beginning of the growing season, during bud break and after harvest. In early spring, they focus on nitrogen fertilizers (50%). During the budding period, 1/4 of the proportion of nitrogen in the ammonium form, ammonium sulfate (35-40 g per bush) or ammonium nitrate (25-30 g per bush) and superphosphate (50-60 g per bush), as well as complex preparations containing these substances. After the appearance of fruits, nitrogen fertilization is completely canceled, replacing nitrogen with calcium, which makes the berries harder and larger. After the end of fruiting, the plants are fertilized with potassium sulfate (30–40 g per bush) and phosphorus. Never feed blueberries with organic matter (manure, compost, chicken droppings) - these substances are detrimental to the delicate root system of plants.
  3. Be sure to pull out the weeds so they don't rob the blueberries of sunlight and nutrients. The roots of this plant are located close to the soil surface, so all manipulations must be done with extreme caution. Loosening of the soil between the rows should be carried out to a depth of no more than 3 cm.
  4. Pruning begins at 3-4 years of plant life, in late autumn, after all the leaves fall, or in early spring - before the buds swell. The branches are removed, directed inside the bush, which are drooping and are located at an inclination of 50 ° towards the row spacing. The growth is shortened to 40–45 cm. Of the formation shoots, only the most powerful ones are left, reaching a height of 0.5 m and more, the rest are cut out at the beginning of the next season, that is, in the spring.
  5. Starting from 5–6 years of age, they practice rejuvenating pruning of bushes, which involves the removal of old, highly branched branches and thin shoots of formation. On older plants, 5-7 shoots are left, no more than 5 years old.
  6. The Bonus variety is distinguished by its increased resistance to most dangerous diseases, however, several treatments with fungicidal preparations will not interfere with prevention: three sprays before flowering with an interval of a week and three after harvesting. In early spring and late autumn, treat with Rovral (0.1–0.2%) or Bordeaux liquid. If you find signs of disease or pest damage on the plant, treat it with appropriate preparations, following the manufacturer's instructions.
  7. For the winter, bushes are covered in the same way as blackberries, bending branches to the ground and covering with spruce branches, burlap, spunbond or any other covering material that is easiest for you to find (with the exception of plastic wrap - it is not recommended to use it for blueberries).

Video: agrotechnology of tall blueberries

Variety reviews

The process of growing blueberries is not easy. But if you listen to the recommendations of experienced gardeners and experiment on your own, you can pick tasty and healthy berries on your site. The plant will bring health benefits, joy to children and decorate the courtyard.

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