Growing Blueberries From Seed
Prepared by D. A. Abdalla, University of Maine Cooperative Extension Service, Orono, ME 04469. February 23, 1967.
Lowbush blueberries can be propagated quite easily from seed. The plants can then be set out in prepared rows, vacant areas in fields or as an ornamental ground cover plant for home landscaping. The best time to start seed is in January or February.
- Obtain seed from blueberries that have been frozen at least 90 days. This will break the seeds’ nest period. A small amount of seed will start quite a few seedlings.
Extract the seed by one of the following methods:
- Waring Blender (Kitchen Blender)
Place 3/4 cup of thawed berries in blender. Fill 3/4 full with water. Put on cap and run blender at high speed for 10-15 seconds. Allow to stand 5 minutes. Seed will sink to the bottom while pulp will stay suspended in the water. Very slowly pour off some of this pulp and add fresh water. Allow seed to settle again. Slowly pour off more pulpy water. Add more fresh water. Allow seed to settle. Keep repeating this cycle until all the pulp is removed and only blueberry seed remains in the bottom. Remove seed and spread on a paper towel to dry.
- Food Grinder
Grind 3/4 cup of thawed blueberries and place in quart jar. Wash inside of grinder into jar also. Fill to 3/4 full with water and cap. Shake vigorously for a few minutes. Allow to stand five minutes as above, and follow same procedure in pouring off the pulp.
- Mashing Berries In a Bowl Place 3/4 cup of thawed berries in a mixing bowl. Mash thoroughly with a pedestal. Place in a quart jar and follow same procedure as above.
- Sow seed in a flat, 3″ box filled with finely ground moist sphagnum moss. Just sprinkle seed evenly over the moss then cover with a very thin moss covering. It is important not to make this covering thick. Keep moss moist but not soaked and place flat in a warm room (60 to 70 degrees F) and cover with a newspaper.
- Seed should germinate in about one month. Remove the newspaper. The emerging seedlings are very tiny. Once they begin emerging, place flat in a sunny window or greenhouse. Keep seedlings moist and allow them to grow in the moss until two to three inches tall.
- Carefully remove seedlings (especially around the root system). Pot each seedling in two inches to three inches of peat or plastic pots using a mixture of 1/3 peat, 1/3 sand, and 1/3 soil. Water well and keep seedlings in a sunny location. After two or three weeks fertilize the potted seedlings with a liquid fertilizer such as Start-N-Gro etc. at 1/2 the recommended rate.
- After frost danger is past set out seedlings in the desired location. Water well all summer. A 10-10-10 fertilizer at the rate of one pound per 100 square feet can be worked into the soil before planting. The first winter, mulch the seedlings with straw, sawdust or pine needles (about November 1). Remove in the spring when buds swell. At this time 10-10-10 fertilizer can again be added at the rate of one pound per 100 square feet.
- Blueberry plants like a lot of water (but not until the soil is waterlogged). The plants should bloom and set a few berries when two years old.
Information in this publication is provided purely for educational purposes. No responsibility is assumed for any problems associated with the use of products or services mentioned. No endorsement of products or companies is intended, nor is criticism of unnamed products or companies implied.
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