Blueberry plants can be expensive to buy at the nursery, but it’s easy enough to become your own nursery once you have a few established plants. Propagating blueberries from cuttings has a high success rate, and doesn’t require expensive equipment.
With just a bit of patience, you can establish a huge blueberry patch for a fraction of the cost of buying nursery potted plants.
When we found our off-grid homestead, blueberries were one of the first things we planted. The problem is, we’re serious blueberry lovers and we wanted to put in 50+ plants. Looking at the price tag at the nursery, that wasn’t happening. We quickly realized that if we wanted a huge blueberry patch, we’d have to propagate the plants ourselves.
When propagating blueberries, all you really need is access to hardwood cuttings. If you have one healthy, vigorous blueberry plant in your back yard, that’s enough to propagate dozens of new plants within a few years.
Though blueberries are technically self-fertile, they produce better crops of larger fruit with cross-pollination, so propagating from at least two different varieties will get better results in the end. Asking a friend for cuttings from their established patch is another way to spread the blueberry goodness too.
Choosing Blueberry Varieties for Propagation
Choose varieties that grow well in your area, taking into account your hardiness zone and the availability of chill hours. Obviously, the best source for cuttings is a healthy vigorous plant already thriving in your neighborhood. That said, if you’re hoping to buy a few nurseries varieties and propagate from there, do your research ahead of time.
Many blueberry varieties are only hardy down to zone 5, which won’t do us much good here in zone 4. Other varieties are more durable and are hardy to zone 3. If you’re in a cold zone, take a look at this list of cold hardy blueberry varieties.
Similarly, if you’re in a warm climate, choose a blueberry that requires fewer chill hours to bear fruit. Most blueberry varieties require at least 800-1000 “chill hours” to re-set their system so that they’re triggered to break dormancy in the spring and bear fruit.
Without that, they may live but they won’t put out good crops. There are a few low chill blueberry varieties that require between 150 and 800 hours depending on the variety. Those include:
- South Moon
- Sunshine Blue
If you’re trying to grow blueberries in very warm climates, read this primer on low chill blueberries from the University of California Extension.
How to Propagate Blueberries from Cuttings
Start by taking cuttings from first-year wood during the dormant season. In Vermont where winters are long, blueberries are dormant from November to April most years. The dormant season will be considerably shorter in more southern locations, just be sure to collect cuttings after the plants have gone completely dormant in the fall or early winter and before the plants have broken bud in the spring.
Young first-year wood works best for this, blueberry plants don’t propagate as easily from older woody cuttings. Our plants are still quite young, and we’re working with very thing cuttings. In an ideal world, take 6” long cuttings from cuttings first-year shoots that are about 1/4 inch in diameter, or the thickness of a pencil.
So long as the cuttings are placed in consistently moist (but not soggy) growing medium, they generally root on their own without issue. Bury the cuttings about 2 inches deep, or 1/3 of their total length.
Place them in a sheltered location indoors for the remainder of the winter to help protect them from frost damage. Alternately, in milder climates, you can prepare a nursery bed outdoors and simply plant the hardwood cuttings directly into the nursery bed until they take root.
It takes about 3-4 months for blueberry cuttings to develop healthy vigorous roots. At that point, you have a young plant that can be tended in a pot or nursery bed for another year until it’s bigger, or planted directly out into a permanent location.
Though blueberries don’t strictly require rooting hormone to stimulate root production, I like to dip them anyway. I keep a small jar of powdered rooting hormone on hand for propagating cuttings of other perennials that are more reluctant to root, such as cornelian cherries and honeyberries. Since I generally propagate plants in one big batch in the winter months, everything gets a dip, which helps stimulate faster root growth and improves success rates all around.
Propagating Blueberries from Softwood Cuttings
Blueberries can also be propagated from softwood cuttings during the growing season. While propagating from hardwood cuttings is relatively simple and straightforward, softwood cuttings require substantially more care. When the blueberry plants are actively growing, they are at much greater risk of drying out and dying before they set out roots.
If you do try to propagate blueberries from softwood cuttings, be sure to select young growing tips that are still supple and not woody. Take cuttings in the late spring or early summer, and take smaller cuttings about 4 inches instead of 6 for hardwood cuttings. Remove the leaves from the bottom half of the cutting, and plant them in moist potting soil about halfway up their length (2” deep).
Keep the softwood cuttings out of direct sunlight, and in a very humid environment for the next 2 months until they’ve started to develop roots. To help ensure humidity, growers often invest in a misting system to keep the plants from dying before they take root.
For my time and effort, it’s much easier to plan ahead and stick with hardwood cuttings for blueberry propagation.
Caring for Home Propagated Blueberry Plants
Once your blueberry cuttings are healthy and rooted, you can treat them just like any blueberry plant. You’re effectively your own nursery now. Most nurseries begin selling blueberry plants when they’re 2 years old so that they’ve put on enough growth to look respectable in a pot.
Those 2nd-year plants sell for about $30 each here. After that, prices go up dramatically and 3 to 5-year-old potted blueberry plants can sell for as much as $100 each.
With a bit of patience, you can turn a few blueberry twigs into your own homegrown blueberry bushes. All it takes is the willingness to wait an extra year or two, and you can save a bundle while setting up a huge blueberry patch.
thank you! Going to Give this a try!
Thank you for the tips . I am going to it.
I would love to learn how to propagate roses
You can Eva Arnim just cut the thick branah and stick it in the ground where it is well drained. We do it. And watch that baby grow. Just beautiful over the years.
So would I keep trying with no luck
I just took some blueberry cuttings! You mention to shelter them indoors…do you keep them in the house(heated) or somewhere like an unheated shed or garage?? Thanks!
Somewhere cool, like a garage, but protect them from freezing. Detached from their plants they’re more sensitive to temperature fluctuations, so if it goes below freezing or gets hot/cold back and forth in your garage then that’s not ideal. Somewhere that stays a consistent 40ish degrees, like a fridge works. We keep them in our basement, which is moist and about 50 degrees year-round.
Thank you for these great instructions! Nicked off a branch by mistake and don’t want to waste it. Love my blueberries!
You’re very welcome. The same thing happened to me with my elderberry bush this year.
Do the cuttings need to be watered?
No. They should be kept cool and moist though, with moistened peat or a moist paper towel in with them where they’re stored.
Would cuttings from wild blueberries or huckleberry also work9
I believe both of those are best propagated from root divisions, but I haven’t tried this technique with either.
How to tell a hardwood cutting from a softwood one? I have some green twigs that seem pretty hard (strong, not floppy or soft)…can they be considered hardwood?. I just cut them today, Jan 12, but I’m not sure if the plants are dormant. Some are budding already, some aren’t. There were leaves on many of the cuttings I took, some leaves green, some reddish fall colors.
So, of the green cuttings, would any of them be considered hardwood?
Topanga, Ca 90290 zone 9b
weather: 34-39F at night,. 50-65F days.
You know, blueberries may not go properly dormant where you live. Green is Ok, some of ours look greenish even mid-winter, but if they have leaves at all it’s too later for “hardwood” cuttings. Your best bet might be a week or two after they shed their last leaf in the fall/early winter. From the sounds of it, if they have fall colored leaves still attached and new green leaves that may not actually happen in your climate. (Here there are a good 6 months between when the fall leaves drop and the spring leaves sprout). I think you may have to do the greenwood cutting procedure instead.
We are in southern Mexico (retired from southern California) at 19.343°N and almost 8000 ft elev. My wife participated in a government program to get blueberries going. We have 24 plants. Our winters are mild with only 10-15 nights per year that barely get below freezing. I was looking for a way to propagate our blueberries and found your site. We will try your method and let you know how it turns out. Thanks!
Wonderful, I wish you the best of luck!
Hi was just wondering if the hardwood cuttings need daylight to root, or would a dark room with no windows be alright. Thanks for posting the article, I can’t wait to grow my own blueberry bushes!!
They need light as soon as they break bud (ie. leaves start opening). Before that, I keep ours in our basement.
Thank you for posting about your blueberry’s, I live in the lower half of the north island of New Zealand, I am an avid blueberry lover and I have been trying to grow my own cutting from a few existing plants I have, I would love to grow many more plants but each time I try I seem to fail, I have tried Hard wood and soft wood cuttings in a mixture damp peat moss and perlite with the rooting hormone, You have post a few tips in your cortical that I will try, Thank you.
Hello George, may I ask how did you go with the cuttings? We also live in a lower part of North Island, I’ve tried last year without much luck. I worry we might not get enough of chill hours around here, but will try again, lockdown project☺️
Your generosity and kind heart show in all your posts. Very clear instructions and good pictures. Thank you very much
So I had a very young blueberry plant I had bought and just moved it to a bigger area. Someone came and ripped it out and left some branches or cuttings on my front door but took the main root system. I’m hoping to be able to save it or try to regrow from what was left of the branches/cuttings. I currently have then sitting in water in a shaded area. What would I need to do to make sure they root? I’m in Bakersfield, ca 93307. It’s currently above 100°F.
Oh my goodness, I’m familiar with Bakersfield (I’m from that area long ago), that’s a rough spot to get blueberries to grow in the first place with that heat. You’d need to follow proticols for rooting greenwood cuttings, but they’d have to stay REALLY moist during the whole time. You’d likely need an actual misting system. Or with that heat, a windowsill indoors and misting it several times a day with a spray bottle may be the way to go? That’s so nasty someone dug it up, but I hope you’re able to salvage the cuttings. Good luck!
I have several trays of blueberry cuttings that should have roots any day now. Is there a type of soil that you would recommend for the potting stage? I have a lot of peat moss and top soil on hand. Thank you.
You can use any kind of organic potting soil. If you have soil on hand, you just want to make sure that it has plenty of nutrients and perhaps add a bit of compost.
This is the first year I started growing blueberries from cuttings. have a greenhouse set up with a mist system to keep my blueberry cuttings moist. They have a lot of new growth and are just starting to form roots. It is early September in the Pacific Northwest and was wondering if I should leave them over the winter in the greenhouse, or transplant to pots with soil before the winter comes? Right now they are in a perlite/peat moss combination in 50 cell flats. Thank you.
We must have missed this comment. Please give us an update and let us know what you decided to do with them.
Have you heard of or have tried the bark skinning method of hardwood propagation? I wonder if this would work faster to propagate anything else also
I haven’t tried that method yet, but it does look promising in the articles and youtube videos I’ve seen on it. Nothing specific to blueberries, but it seems like it works across a broad variety of plants, so possibly.
Ashley, thanks for the information! I have about 40 bushes here in northeast Kansas that I’d like to propagate. After you cut the hardwood cuttings, and apply rooting hormone, do you place them in pots with potting soil? Do you think a mixture of peat moss and perlite would suffice?
Also, do you just plant the cuttings (root hormone side down of course) into pots and then into basement? At what point would you bring them out of basement? Upon bud break? I didn’t see anything about this in the article. Sorry if I missed it. I’ll try this method this coming winter. I’m also thinking about placing them into fridge, wrapped in moist moss in a ziploc bag.
Yes, any kind of growing medium will work. You are taking your cuttings during the dormant season and you want to take them to the basement to protect them from frost damage. They probably won’t break bud in a dark basement but you can move them outdoors as soon as the danger of frost damage has passed.
Can I transplant wild Maine blueberries? I live in New Hampshire which is 2 hours away. Can I dig up my existing blueberry bushes and move them to NH?
You should be able to do that no problem.
Ann Day Lawrence
Hey! I have an aging Blueberry bush that has several new healthy looking green 2+ feet high shoots coming up from the ground around the base. Can these be propagated as well?
Yes, you can propagate blueberries from both hardwood and softwood cuttings.
Ann Day Lawrence
How do I prepare them?
There is a whole section in the post titled “PROPAGATING BLUEBERRIES FROM SOFTWOOD CUTTINGS”. Just follow the directions in the post.
You should just leave the massive root ball and two shoots attached and remove the dead wood, that’s what you are suppose to do anyway, the two new shoots would have a massive root system and would take off fast, the root system can last 50+ years, cuttings will take 2-3 years to grow a tiny bit and a few more years to fruit, while your existing root system with the two new shoots will probably fruit the first year
Thanks for that comment! I have a bush that had severe die-back this season with one healthy shoot coming up from the base. I’m going to try what you stated this next Spring.
Just updating on my blueberry propagation progress. Last week, I brought up from the basement my late winter 2022 blueberry cuttings. The skinnier twigs/cuttings are sprouting green new leaves, all along the stems. The thicker ones are either still dormant or dead. Can’t tell yet, so I’ll give it some more time before starting over in Spring on propagating the thicker cut twigs from my blueberry bushes. I did use rooting hormone on all the cuttings.
That’s great! Thanks for the update.
At what point would you suggest that I fertilize the cuttings? Is Osmocote OK, or should I use water soluble fertilizer, such as Miracle Gro? TIA.
You can treat the blueberry cuttings just like any other blueberry plant as soon as your cuttings are well rooted. Most of the time, we don’t use an additional fertilizer since we already use compost on the garden. You can use an organic granular fertilizer specific for berries and follow the directions on the package.
Would cuttings then be considered a new first year plant? Also, how long would they need to be in a dormant state before I can put them in soil and get the roots started?
Yes, you can expect fruit after two years. It doesn’t matter how long they have been in the dormant state as long as they are completely dormant and haven’t started budding out yet.