How to Transplant Blueberry Bushes

As an easy to grow perennial that can produce reliable crops of sweet and juicy fruits each year, it’s no wonder the blueberry is a popular choice for home gardeners.

Occasionally, these relatively low maintenance shrubs may benefit from being relocated.

Perhaps you’ve propagated new bushes. Or they have outgrown their space or are not thriving in their current location. Or maybe you’re moving and don’t want to leave those well cared for bushes behind!

A close up vertical image of clusters of ripe blueberries growing on the shrub pictured on a soft focus background. To the center and bottom of the frame is green and white printed text.

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Whatever the reason, transplanting blueberries is easy to do.

As long as you follow a few simple guidelines, you can move them from one place to another without damaging plants or fruit production.

Read on to learn the best way to transplant blueberries.

The process of relocating a blueberry shrub is pretty straightforward.

Just be sure to time the transplant appropriately, choose a suitable site, and provide adequate water following the big move.

Preparing to Transplant

Transplanting should take place during dormancy if possible. These shrubs have shallow roots, and disrupting them during active growth can cause stress to the plant.

By digging them up during dormancy, plants have time to recover from transplant shock before the growing season begins.

A horizontal image of the new shoots of a blueberry bush in springtime pictured on a soft focus background.

In mild climates, this is typically anytime between November and March. In colder locations, it will be after leaves have dropped in the fall but before the ground freezes, or in early spring once the ground is workable.

There is more flexibility when transplanting container plants, since the feeder roots are more likely to stay intact than when they are being dug from the ground.

Even so, it is best to stick to spring or fall and avoid the hot summer sun.

A close up horizontal image of a hand from the right of the frame holding a blueberry transplant growing in a black plastic bag.

When you are ready to transplant, find a new spot with conditions suited to growing blueberries. The site should ideally be in full sun, with rich well-drained acidic soil.

You can purchase a home test kit to help you determine the pH of the soil. It should be somewhere between 4.0 and 5.0. Learn more about testing your soil in this guide.

If soil is too alkaline, try working in a couple inches of peat moss, shredded pine bark, or composted leaf mold prior to planting.

You can even sprinkle a few handfuls of used coffee grounds at the planting site to increase acidity.

Transplanting Tips

Once the new site is ready, it is time to dig up the shrub.

Use a flat shovel to dig straight downward into the soil about a foot out from the stem of the plant. Since the roots are shallow, you won’t need to go more than a foot or so deep.

Slide the shovel horizontally under the roots and lift gently. Continue in a circle around the shrub until you are able to easily pull it free.

If you are transplanting a potted plant, use a garden knife to gently loosen the soil around the perimeter and then remove it from its container.

A close up horizontal image of two hands from the left of the frame loosening the roots of a potted plant prior to planting out in the garden.

If it has become root bound, you can use your hands or pruners to carefully pry apart the ends of the roots.

It is best to replant blueberries that you have dug up right away.

If this isn’t possible, you can wrap the root ball in plastic and set the bush in a sheltered location out of direct sun until it can be planted, but do not wait longer than a few days.

When you are ready to plant, dig a hole just deeper and wider than the root ball.

A close up horizontal image of a hole in the garden surrounded by overgrown lawn.

You can add a little sawdust, composted pine bark, coffee grounds, or peat moss to the hole to increase acidity if necessary.

A close up horizontal image of a gardener pouring sawdust into a hole dug in the garden prior to planting.

Place the shrub in the hole and backfill with soil.

A close up horizontal image of a gardener planting a shrub in the garden.

Mulch with a few inches of pine needles, shredded pine bark, or sawdust, leaving two to three inches unmulched around the stem.

If planting multiple shrubs, plan to leave at least five or six feet between each.

Water Water Water

Water deeply immediately after planting, and continue to water often, making sure the top inch of soil always remains moist.

A close up horizontal image of a hand from the left of the frame watering blueberry shrubs with a hose gun.

Blueberries have shallow roots, and surface roots can dry out easily. It is therefore important to water deeply and regularly to avoid this.

Shrubs should receive at least an inch of water per week and up to four inches during fruiting.

A horizontal image of ripe blueberries growing on the bush in early fall pictured on a soft focus background.

A soaker hose works well because it will deliver water directly to the roots.

Just the Ticket

It’s a good thing transplanting blueberries is so easy. Sometimes, this can be exactly what is needed to revive an underperforming shrub.

A close up horizontal image of a gardener on the right of the frame holding a blueberry bush in a black plastic bag ready for transplanting, pictured in light sunshine.

Just follow the tips described above and before you know it, your blueberry bushes will be flourishing!

Have you moved blueberry shrubs to a new location? Share your experience in the comments section below.

And for more information about growing blueberries in your garden, check out these guides next:

About Heather Buckner

Heather Buckner hails from amongst the glistening lakes of Minnesota, and now lives with her family on a beautiful homestead in the Vermont Mountains. She holds a bachelor of science degree in environmental science from Tufts University, and has traveled and worked in many roles in conservation and environmental advocacy, including creating and managing programs based around resource conservation, organic gardening, food security, and building leadership skills. Heather is a certified permaculture designer and student herbalist. She is also a fanatical gardener, and enjoys spending as much time covered in dirt as possible!

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