Growing Japanese Blueberry Plants
The Japanese blueberry, or elaeocarpus decipiens, can be a beautiful addition to any garden or landscaping. –And if you know how to care for it properly, it can be a very long lasting and rewarding tree. There are different species of this plant which gives it the benefit of versatility. It can be used as both a bordering tree, centerpiece, or simply as a background to “set off” other plants. To give you a better idea about the type of care required to maintain the Japanese blueberry, we are going to go over the basic planting and growing details.
Let us begin by talking about the physical aspects of this tree to give you a better idea of its qualities and what it has to offer your garden. The foliage of this tree is normally green, but it usually turns a gorgeous shade of red during the autumn season. It produces pretty white flowers in April and May which are also fragrant—just perfect if you are looking for something to add a light floral scent to the air at the end of the spring season. The blueberry tree can grow to a height of anywhere from thirty to fifty feet and can stretch as wide as forty feet across. This tree does need quite a bit of room to grow, so make sure your garden or yard can accommodate a tree of this size.
If something smaller is more suiting to your tastes, consider a Japanese blueberry shrub. There are many varieties to choose from, but that makes shopping and dreaming up landscaping ideas even more fun! Some varieties of the shrub grow to about 11 feet in height while others max out at six to eight feet in height. You should be aware that a blueberry shrub of six feet or smaller will need quite a lot of attention when it comes to pruning, otherwise it can take on a bushy and disagreeable appearance. Most of these shrubs have a width of about eight feet across, which makes it much easier to accommodate—you could even consider planting a few of them if you have the room. Just like their tree counterparts, the blueberry shrub has green foliage which can be depended upon to turn bright red in the summer. The shrub will also produce the same white, fragrant flowers.
The catch with the Japanese blueberry tree and shrub is that it can really only be grown in USDA zones eight through eleven. As a general rule, these plants can be considered hardy enough to withstand a drop in temperature to about 20 degrees F, but any lower and the tree or shrub is likely to struggle. If you live in an area where the winter temperature frequently drops below 20 degrees, this may not be the right plant for you.
When planting this tree, you should endeavor to choose a spot with good soil and either full sun or partial shade, although this plant does best in full sun. The size of the hole that you prepare for this tree should be at least two times the overall size of the root ball. The soil that will be returned to the hole should be mixed with a little compost to give the young tree a boost of nutrients while the roots are settling in. Place the root ball into the hole. Try to keep the top of the roots just about level with the ground while you fill in the hole with the soil and compost mixture. Pat the soil down firmly, but make sure that you don’t pack it so tightly that the roots have trouble spreading. Give the area a nice watering but don’t make it overly moist.
As with any tree, a good watering routine is vital while the tree is still young. You may have to water it once or twice a week in the summer if the area is particularly hot and rainfall sparse. You should endeavor to plant your tree during the autumn season to allow it to spread its roots before becoming dormant. It can be a great boost to the tree’s overall health if you spread a bit of compost over the area each spring before the new growth begins.
Overall, this is a fairly easy tree to maintain and can become a valued member of your garden variety!