How to prune blueberries – and boost how much fruit the bush can grow

Ensure both a healthy bush and more fruit growing on the stems

A blueberry bush
(Image credit: Getty Images/Kativ)

Blueberries are one of the most beloved summer fruits, finding their way into everything from blueberry muffins to tarts and even pancakes. But if you’re opting to grow your own then you need to know how to properly care for your blueberry bush, and learning how to prune blueberries is one of the very important steps.

If you’ve mastered how to grow your own blueberries rather than picking up store-bought punnets, then you’ll know that pruning your plant once a year is imperative for stimulating new growth and higher fruit production. Among several other benefits.

But if you’re not sure what the best way to prune your blueberries is, then never fear as this expert-approved guide should answer all the questions you might have on the subject.

A blueberry bush

(Image credit: Getty Images/Sheku Conteh)

How to prune blueberries

Much like getting when to prune blueberries right, the technique of how to prune them is your key to successful pruning.  ‘This will encourage new growth and help shape the bush so more sunlight can reach the plant, there will be better air circulation and it will encourage healthy fruit production,’ explains Nadezhda Yaneva, Fantastic Gardeners' gardening expert. 

Who could say no to that? Especially since you only have to do it once a year.

Frosty blueberries on a bush

(Image credit: Getty Images/Meinzahn)

What you’ll need

  • Long-handled loppers like these ones from Amazon ‘to cut large stems if you're dealing with mature canes, which can reach 5 centimetres in diameter,’ Nadezhda says.
  • Pruning shears like these ones from Amazon which are best for ‘finishing work and shaping young bushes,’ according to Nadezhda.

Blueberry pruning guide

Whether you grow your blueberries in pots or in the ground, your plant needs a yearly prune.

‘Generally, blueberry pruning is done after the leaves have fallen during the dormant season, which is in winter,’ begins Nadezhda.

Once that happens, start by removing dead, damaged and diseased stems from the plant. ‘If the stems have died back because of the cold weather, remove any damaged or diseased ones. All of them should be removed until there's a healthy bud,’ Nadezhda explains.

Next, tackle the spindly stems, if there are any. ‘It is also important to take back any spindly growth at the end of last year's fruiting stems to strengthen them.’

Overall, you should remove only about one quarter of the plant’s oldest branches, no more.

A blueberry bush

(Image credit: Getty Images/Mikola249)

FAQs

Do blueberries need to be pruned?

In short, yes, blueberries do need to be pruned every year.

‘Blueberries will benefit from pruning to remove any dead or diseased wood on them and to thin out older stems,’ Nadezhda explains.

Wet blueberries on a bush

(Image credit: Getty Images/Marcia Straub)

When to prune blueberries?

‘Blueberries should be pruned once a year during their dormant season, which is typically in late winter or early spring before new growth begins,’ Nadezhda says.

Now, this should set you up for a healthy blueberry plant and a plentiful fruit harvest come summertime. Enjoy!

Sara Hesikova
News Writer

Sara Hesikova has been Ideal Home’s News Writer since July 2023, bringing the Ideal Home’s readership breaking news stories from the world of home and interiors. Graduating from London College of Fashion with a bachelor’s degree in fashion journalism in 2016, she got her start in niche fashion and lifestyle magazines like Glass and Alvar as a writer and editor before making the leap into interiors. She feels the two are intrinsically connected - if someone puts an effort into what they wear, they most likely also care about what they surround themselves with.