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Transplanting Blueberry plants-an opinion?

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George the Pigman:
I have a raised bed with six well established blueberry plants about 3-4 feet high. However the bed is now totally congested with couch grass which needs thoroughly digging out. My plan was to lift the raised bed sides and dig out the plants. Then  I would remove any weeds from the roots of the plants and temporarily put them elsewhere on the plot. I would then thoroughly dig out the bed then replant.
However looking at the web advice it says then don't like root disturbance.
The alternative is to try and get all the couch grass out whilst then are in situ which seems a more difficult and  job and less likely to get it all out!

Anybody any expert advice?

I wonder if the lack of comments reflects that they are not that widely grown.  I know that the need for very low pH soil has always discouraged me from trying. 

Even the general rules about moving fruit bushes are not totally clear.  Some people insist autumn when the soil is still warm to allow roots to establish. Some insist only when fully minimise damage. 

I think you may have to just chance it.

I have moved blueberries from the ground into baths.
The results were variable but it was  about five or more years ago and some of the plants are doing really well.

Tee Gee:
Personally I would bite the bullet and lift them particularly if the couch grass has got into the plant/s rootball. As most of us know with couch to leave just a small piece in the area it will soon develop again.

To do this I would lift the plants now and remove all the soil from the root ball with a power hose which hopefully would clear out any remaining couch grass roots.The hosing exercise might be best performed at the point where you have prepared the planting hole thus avoiding any drying out taking place in the event the transplanting is delayed for any reason.

When transplanting I would make the hole large enough that it will allow you  to lay the blueberry roots flat.

Now the important bit in my book;
I would flood the hole with water  and let it soak away before transplanting the bushes and this will ensure that there is enough moisture at the base of the plant.Too often I have seen people only watering after planting and I think quite often with this method, the water may not penetrate to the base of the plant and the lower roots can dry out.

Once the hole has drained lay out the roots spreading them out as best you can then backfill in layers with an ericaceous compost giving each layer a copious helping of water to wash the compost in between the roots.

This method should ensure that each root is surrounded in soil and there are no air pockets.

As an insurance against “root rock” I would stake each plant until such times as the plant /s have established themselves again.

Then it is a fingers crossed job from then on and hopefully your transplanting becomes a success story.

At the end of the day……” the choice is yours”

If you grow blueberries in pots you will have to transplant every 2-3 years and they seem to do OK.

I would follow similar to Tee Gee, but would be inclined to wait until dormant as with trees and shrubs. 

They really do like acid, even more acidic than ericaceous if you dare .  See you are on heavy clay, as am I.  Have very little depth of topsoil, so with our blueberries I have dug down to the clay pan (less than 1 1/2 feet), lined the hole and backfilled with ericaceous compost.  The clay has helped keep the compost acidic and just top up a couple of inch each year.  The lining has also helped minimise ingress of grass and raspberries from sides.  They have grown really strongly over the last couple of years giving good crops.

I treated in a similar manner as I have when planting up other fruit and took it as an opportunity to prune as well. 

I currently have 2 additional, fairly small,  bushes that had previously been in the ground that I moved into pots this year as they were infested with couch grass.  Washed the roots off, pruned and potted for the year.  They have doubled in size - so all I would say is go for it!


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