Is your blueberry bush flowering, but not producing any fruit? This can be a very frustrating issue to deal with, because who doesn’t love the taste of fresh blueberries? However, this is actually a very common problem, and can often be remedied easily. Keep reading to find out why you might be having this issue, and what to do about it.
There can be many reasons for blueberry bushes to flower but not produce fruit, including:
- Soil acidity isn’t right for growing blueberries
- The blueberry plant is too young
- Blueberry bush isn’t getting enough pollination
- The blueberry bush needs to be pruned
- Not enough Nitrogen in the soil for blueberries
- Birds are eating the blueberries
- It’s too early in the season for blueberry fruits
All of these issues can be fixed, so don’t give up on your blueberries just yet!
The most common reason why a blueberry bush flowers but doesn’t fruit is because the soil isn’t acidic enough. Most plants prefer soil that is mostly neutral (neither acidic nor basic), with a pH range of 6.0 to 7.0.
Blueberries, on the other hand, prefer soil that is more acidic, with the ideal pH being between 4.5 and 5. You can purchase a soil gauge such as this one to test the pH of your soil, as that is your only way of truly knowing how acidic it is.
If your pH is too high, there are some simple ways to raise the acidity of your soil organically. You can add well-decomposed compost to your soil, or coffee grounds. You can also use organic mulch, especially those made with pine needles or oak leaves.
These methods may take some time to work, but over time, they will slowly raise the acidity of your soil, which will help your blueberry plants produce fruit along with their flowers.
Another option is to buy an organic soil acidifier such as this one which is specially designed for acid soil-loving plants.
A sad fact about blueberry bushes is that they usually don’t produce fruit until they’re older. Additionally, most blueberries only grow on older branches, which young plants might not have.
If your blueberry bushes are in their first (or possibly second) year of life, chances are they might not fruit. Most blueberry bushes won’t produce fruit until their third year, although some may produce in their second.
So if you do have young blueberry plants, you likely won’t be able to get them to fruit right now. But if you take good care of them, know they will have a lot of fruit for you down the line! In fact, it might be a good idea to snip off the flowers if your plants are this young, so that they can focus on strengthening their other parts.
Also, if you’d like blueberries more immediately, you can purchase older plants to put in your garden. An already-established bush, transplanted in the early spring, has a good chance of producing fruit the same year.
Like many fruit bearing-plants, blueberries require pollination. Some people think they don’t, because most varieties of blueberry are “self-pollinating”. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t need pollination!
Self-pollinating simply means that one plant contains both male and female flowers— so pollen can be passed between flowers on the same plant. Plants that don’t self-pollinate typically require multiple plants near each other, some with male flowers and others with female flowers.
If your blueberry bush is flowering but not fruiting, it might be lacking in pollination. Luckily, there’s someone who can help you with that: bees!
As we all know, bees are very important for plant pollination. Bee populations have been declining in many places, due to many reasons, which also means plants get pollinated less. But you can take measures to attract more bees to your area, so they can help pollinate your blueberries.
One of the best things to do is to put other flowering plants within 100 yards of your blueberries. There are many options for flowers to add to your garden, so you can have fun with it. These plants will attract bees, which will then help pollinate your berries as well.
You can also attract specific types of bees— like Mason Bees, for example— by putting up “homes” for them, which you can buy at most nurseries.
Of course, if you can’t get bees to come naturally, you can try hand-pollinating your blueberry bushes, but you must be careful and treat the plants with care as they are really delicate. Get a small brush or q-tip, and move around the plant’s flowers, gently sticking the brush into the center of each flower and giving it a little spin. This will help pick up pollen from the female flowers and transfer it to the male flowers.
Blueberry bushes tend to produce fruit on their older branches. However, this doesn’t mean that you should prune off all the younger growth when pruning: an even pruning is vital to the plant producing more fruit.
Pruning of blueberry bushes should be done during the “off” months, usually near the beginning of fall. This is when the plants go into a more dormant state, and are more receptive to being well pruned.
First, clip off any parts that have died and withered, because they won’t be helping the plant anymore. Then, clip off about 20% of the plant, taking a mixture of new, old, and in-between canes. If the plant is left with a good mix, it can produce berries next season on the older canes while growing out the younger ones for future production.
Whatever you do, don’t prune off all of one type of growth, and don’t trim too much of the plant. Over pruning can damage the blueberry bush and make it even harder for it to produce next season.
Blueberries, like many other fruiting plants, need a good amount of nitrogen in the soil to grow healthy fruit. While they might flower without it, they will struggle to produce fruit if there isn’t enough nitrogen in the soil.
On the other hand, though, too much nitrogen can be harmful to plants. Never give large amounts of Nitrogen to blueberries, and don’t give it in their first year: they are young (and not producing) so it will likely do more harm than good.
To increase the amount of nitrogen in your soil, you have a couple of options. You could try adding spent coffee grounds or aged animal manure to your soil. These things will increase the Nitrogen in the soil, but it might happen very slowly and be hard to predict.
If you prefer something faster and more reliable, you can add an organic fertilizer to your soil. Fertilizers made with fish products, like this organic fish and kelp fertilizer, can be very good at adding nitrogen to the soil and providing a good balance of nutrients. Plus, since they’re organic, you don’t have to worry about having too many extra chemicals or ingredients.
The addition of a fertilizer specifically targeted to the needs of growing blueberries such as this organic blueberry fertilizer, will also help ensure the health of your blueberry bush. A spring application will promote growth, flowers and fruiting, while a fall application will help strengthen the blueberry plant for coping with winter temperatures.
It’s a well-known fact that birds love blueberries. A lot. So if you have blueberries that are flowering but not fruiting, it’s possible that the plants actually are fruiting, and it’s just being eaten before you can see it.
There are a few ways you can keep birds away from your plants if this is the issue. You can try getting bird netting such as this one, which you can gently drape over your plants to protect them from avian nuisances.
You could also try to place bird feeders at another spot far away from your blueberries. Hopefully, this will draw them away from that area and give them something else to eat. However, it might also draw more of them and they could go back to eating the blueberries, so be careful when trying this!
Lastly, you can purchase reflective items to scare birds away. Small, non-harmful reflective tape that goes right on your bushes, or reflective pinwheels that spin, can both be good at deterring birds. The sudden movement and bright light scares birds without harming them, so they stop eating your precious berries!
One other potential cause of blueberry bushes flowering but not fruiting is simple: it’s too early in the season! Remember that, while blueberries may flower in the spring, they typically don’t start producing fruit until early summer.
So if you notice flowers but no fruit and it’s still early, give it some time. It’s possible that the plant will start to fruit in the near future. If it’s been quite a few weeks, or the flowers are starting to fall off, then it might be a bad sign. That’s when you should start to consider other issues, like the ones we mentioned above.
If you’ve been wondering why your blueberry bush flowers but doesn’t fruit, hopefully, you now know the answer. There can be a variety of causes for this, but each one can be remedied, and usually without any extra products needed! And remember, taking care of your blueberries now means that you’ll get to enjoy lots of delicious fruit in the future.