Blueberry plants do best in full sun and in well-drained locations. Also locate a place where irrigation water is available in order to keep the root system moist throughout the whole growing season. The most effective and reliable way to grow blueberries in Florida is to plant blueberries in mulch beds (See mulch details below).
Pine Bark Mulching
You will need 2 cu. ft. of pine bark mulch per plant. Blueberries thrive with 1-2 inches of mulch over the roots to hold in moisture and nutrients. You will want to replenish the mulch every other year.
Remove plant from pot and lightly break up the outside surface of the root ball to promote growth. Place plant in mulch bed and cover root system with the mulch 1-2 inches. Water in well.
Blueberry plants should be planted about 24-30 inches apart to create a solid hedgerow. You can also space them as far 6 feet apart to grow as individual.
Pruning is required every year to avoid disease. Pruning also helps to avoid Over-fruiting which can cause poor growth and/or lower fruit production.
1. Prune out lower laterals around the base for the plant.
2. Prune all discolored short growth and dead twigs.
3. All pruning should result in about ½ of plant removal. Prune small twigs in order to meet this standard.
Avoid using any type of manure. Blueberries thrive on acid fertilizers such as Azalea formulations. New plants require a small ring of granular around the base such as 12.4.8 use 1 ounce. Always water well after fertilizing.
Blueberries Slow Tumor Growth
Blueberry extract slows the spread of a difficult-to-treat form of breast cancer, according to a small study of mice in Cancer Research. So-called triple-negative breast cancers, which account for 10% to 15% of all breast-cancer cases, lack the three receptors that most cancer drugs target. In a preliminary test-tube experiment, researchers discovered that blueberry extract, compared with other fruit and vegetable extracts, had the greatest effect on these tumors without harming healthy cells. The researchers randomized 16 mice to receive either blueberry extract—a daily dose of unadulterated juice extracted from blueberries that was roughly equivalent to five ounces of blueberries a day for a 150-pound person—or a placebo. One week after the first dose, the mice were injected with triple-negative breast-cancer cells. Six weeks after that, necropsies revealed that the tumors of blueberry-fed mice were about 70% smaller than those in placebo-fed mice. The tumors of the blueberry-fed mice also had less potential to spread to other parts of the body.
Read Full Blueberry Story
Studies by the USDA at Tuffs University have shown blueberries to be high in Antioxidants, Anthocyanins and Nutraceuticals.
Antioxidants and Nutraceuticals are organic or natural substances found in blueberries that are thought to be effective in helping to prevent cancer, heart disease & stroke.
Anthocyanins are what give blueberries it's "blue" color and research has shown it to boost brain power. It may even help to slow down the symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease.
"Blueberries May Reduce Effects of Aging"
NY Times Sept 21, 1999
Abstract - "Elderly rats fed the human equivalent of at least half a cup of blueberries a day improved in balance, coordination and short-term memory, according to a study published this month in the Journal of Neuroscience."
"Blueberries Pack a Powerful Antioxidant Punch"
LA Times May 28, 2001
Abstract - "After measuring more than 40 commercially available fruits and vegetables for antioxidant activity, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has ranked blueberries as far and away the best. According to the director of those studies, it would take five servings of fruits and vegetables such as peas, carrots, apples, squash and broccoli, to equal the antioxidant power of half a cup of blueberries."
"Blueberries boost brain power, study says"
Indianapolis Star 2002
Abstract - "Older Animals with impairments in learning, memory and coordination begin to show significant signs of improvement after a two month diet of blueberries......"