What Is The Best Mulch For Blueberries

What Is The Best Mulch For Blueberries?

For many years, farmers have relied on sawdust as the number one mulch for their blueberries. However, in the past few years, agronomists have had many trials to introduce more alternatives that decompose slower than sawdust.

Essentially, blueberry bushes flourish in acidic soils. Hence, the best mulch is the one that maintains a low pH throughout the life of the bush. Additionally, a good mulch should maintain moisture, control pests, reduce weeds and promote the presence of organic material in the soil. Mulches made from pine barks, pine needles, and wood chips provide some of the best alternatives for blueberry plants.

That is not to say farmers have done away with sawdust mulches. No. Experts have bettered them. However, the big question still looms; what is the best mulch for blueberries?

Also Check: Best Mulch For Vegetable GArden 

A Review of the Best Mulch for Blueberries

In this section, I have reviewed the top-notch mulches proven over time by blueberry farmers. Under every alternative are the key features that should guide you in choosing the mulch that works for you. Let’s dive in!

  1. Sprig & Stone Sphagnum Moss

The Sphagnum Moss from Sprig & Stone is top-grade peat moss. It’s 99% organic. It provides a good mulch for blueberries since it has a high water retention capacity. Furthermore, it maintains nutrients for a significant amount of time.

Every blueberry farmer wonders whether peat moss contributes to proper soil drainage, aeration, and moisture retention. Why? The three factors are central to a high-yielding blueberry bush.

In itself, it cannot achieve all. However, it combines well with perlite to provide better drainage and air circulation. How does the perlite material achieve this? It modifies the soil structure—loosening it and making it less compact.

 The Sprig & Stone Sphagnum Moss also works well with vermiculite, which helps soils boost their moisture retention capacity. 

Key Features

  • It blends well with perlite and vermiculite to boost its performance.
  • Works well with custom soil blends
  • It’s 99% organic and contributes to high farm yields
  • Retains moisture by creating a barrier between the soil and air
  • The mulch has a terrarium layer that keeps the soil from sliding into the drainage layer

Pros

  • Improves aeration in heavy soils by reducing compaction
  • It’s durable since it degrades slowly in the soil
  • Has low pH that favors blueberry bushes
  • Peat moss doesn’t contain toxic chemicals

Cons

  • Peat moss has low nutrient levels
  • It has to be mixed with fertilizer to grow strong and healthy bushes
  1. ECOgardener Premium Weed Barrier 

If you’ve practiced farming for long then you know that weeds are part of every farm. Although they are naturally occurring, their downside is that they compete with your blueberry bushes for vital nutrients.

The ECOgardener Premium Weed Barrier is a proven landscape barrier that creates a buffer between the soil and the sun. It’s a landscape fabric that keeps the seeds of unwanted plants (like weeds) from accessing the sunlight. Hence, they cannot sprout to life.

Nonetheless, you have to make small openings in the landscape fabric to allow water and air to your blueberry bushes. I know you’re already getting anxious over the installation process. You need not worry because the cutting and laying of the fabric need no technical skills. 

The ECOgardener weed barrier excels over other landscape fabrics due to its eco-friendliness. It’s made of a blend of woven and non-woven material that seals off weeds from the sunlight while preserving soil moisture.

Further, its fabric is made of two layers. Thus, it remains ideal for both the cold and hot seasons.

Key Features

  • Effectively controls weed growth without using chemicals
  • Controls soil erosion
  • The installation process is a simple procedure and doesn’t need an expert
  • Made of thick and strong materials and is thus very durable

Pros

  • The material blocks sunlight but allows air and water to keep the soil moist
  • Literally blocks weeds and is thus 100% effective in weed control

Cons

  • The farmer has to keep cutting it to avoid choking seedlings
  1. EZ-Straw Seeding Mulch with Tack 

As a blueberry farmer, you may have the problem of farm soil not sticking together. Worry no more. The EZ-Straw mulch excels where other processed straws fail. It comes with a tackifier that keeps the soil bonded. 

With the soil particles together, your seeds are protected from the strong wind. Further, the straw will hide your seeds from seed-eating creatures like birds.

Since the EZ-straw is biodegradable, it doesn’t mess with the composition of your soil. Once it has done its job of protecting the seed, it will degrade on its own and leave your soil in the condition it was before you laid it.

In a nutshell, the EZ-Straw is the key to a swift and successful germination process. Further, it reduces the times you need to water your blueberry plants and keeps the bush free from weeds.

Key Features

  • This straw mulch comes with a bonding agent (tackifier) to keep it together
  • It keeps the seeds away from external harm
  • The straw mulch speeds up germination
  • No harm is caused to the soil composition since its biodegradable
  • The material is not poisonous to children and pets

Pros

  • Breaks down easily and is rich in nutrients
  • Straw boosts carbon levels in the soil
  • Helps the  soil retain soil moisture
  • Contributes to ideal soil structure for blueberries

Cons

  • Straw is not durable since it breaks down quickly
  • Needs frequent replacement
  1. Decorlife Coconut Fiber Mat 

One of the crucial qualities of the best mulch for blueberries is the ability to retain moisture. Impressively, that’s where Decorlife Coconut Fiber mat performs best. The fiber absorbs water, drains it into the soil, and thus keeps your blueberry bushes well hydrated.

That’s not all. The mat is made from 100% coconut fiber, fully biodegradable. It doesn’t degrade the quality of your farm soil—as it gradually decomposes, it adds nutrients to the soil.

If you’re a committed farmer, you should be asking yourself whether the Decorlife Coconut fiber mat comes laced with pesticides. You’re lucky it isn’t. Thus, you can safely line the mat on your seedling bed, and the blueberry seeds will sprout perfectly. Interestingly, it doesn’t leak the soil when it’s raining.

One thing is cool about this Fiber mat. It controls the growth of weeds. Although it allows water and air, it blocks the passage of light to the weed seeds and thus checks their growth.

Key Features

  • The fiber mat is easily cut to different shapes and sizes
  • It’s made up of 100% coconut fiber and is thus durable
  • The mat is woven from 100% natural coconut fiber and doesn’t have toxic chemicals

Pros

  • It can easily integrate into different farming environments
  • Holds moisture for long and promotes the fast growth of your seedlings
  • It strengthens the structure of loose earth
  • The mat comes in the optimal thickness

Cons

  • It’s not easy to clean
  • Some farmers find its scent unpleasant when wet
  1. 100% Natural Cedar Chips

The 100% Natural Cedar chips provide the best mulch in terms of moisture retainment. Whether you use it indoors for the greenhouse growth of blueberries or on an open farm, it gives great results.

Cedarwood has a natural fragrance. If you’re looking for a bonus in a mulch, then this is something you may like to consider. They could serve as both a mulch and air freshener.

Furthermore, they are good at absorbing moisture. The chips keep the plant hydrated and also moderate the soil temperature.

I know we are talking about mulch for blueberries. However, it’s always convenient for a farmer to buy that farm material that would serve more than one use. Cedar chips could be sprinkled on animal beddings to absorb foul odors and keep your farm fresh and with breathable air.

Key Features

  • Cedar chips could be used as an air freshener due to their elegant natural smell
  • They work well with hanging planters
  • The mulch is adaptable to both the greenhouse and outdoor farming
  • The 100% natural cedar chips are generously packed

Pros

  • Excellent at boosting soil retention
  • Cedar chips literally block weeds 
  • It insulates the soil from summer’s heat and winter’s cold
  • The cedar scent repels insects and is thus suitable for insect-infested farms
  • It’s long-lasting and its thus not replaced often

Cons

  • Consumes some of the nitrogen needed by the blueberry plants
  • Its strong scent can repel beneficial bugs from the blueberries
  1. 100% Natural Cedar Shavings Mulch

100% Natural Cedar shavings are the thin waste products when cedarwood is planed or smoothened. Cedar shavings can absorb liquids twice their weight! Thus, it’s one of the best mulch for blueberries as far as moisture retention is concerned.

If you’re a farmer obsessed with fragrant natural smells on your farm, then cedar shavings should be your choice. The natural scent of cedar is very appealing to the nostrils.

However, there’s more to the appealing smell. 100% Natural Cedar shavings are an excellent fertilizer to the soil—they deposit valuable minerals to the soil as they rot away.

Furthermore, without any additional harmful chemicals, cedar can repel hundreds of insects that may be harmful to your plants. 

Blueberry bushes thrive well in acidic soils. Agronomists have repeatedly confirmed that cedar shavings maintain a low soil pH. 

Ultimately, dead cedar is associated with the regulation of soil temperature, water retention, and enhanced weed control. As a bonus, the shavings come in a variety of colors which gives your farm an attractive appearance.

Key Features

  • 100% Natural Cedar shavings have a high-water retention capacity.
  • Natural cedar has a fragrant smell, which makes your farm appealing
  • The shavings are biodegradable and deposit nutrients into the soil as they decompose.

Pros

  • Repels harmful insects
  • Add nutrients to the soil as they break down
  • Helps the soil retain moisture
  • Cedar shavings have a low pH suitable for blueberry bushes

Cons

  • The strong cedar scent may repel pollinators and some beneficial bugs
  • Competes for nitrogen with the seedlings
  1. Orchid All Natural Pine Bark Chips

The Orchid All Natural Pine Bark chips are the goal of every farmer looking to keep the pH of his farm soil as low as possible. Blueberry bushes thrive well under this mulch because they’re not choked by the acidity it comes with. In fact, soil acidity aids in its development. 

Blueberry bushes don’t do so well in heavy soils. Pine bark chips are chunky and absorbent. Thus, they loosen the soil structure by retaining moisture. When paired with a good fertilizer, the bushes thrive in no time.

Like all other wood mulches, it competes for nitrogen with the seedlings. To lower the amount of nitrogen consumed, the mulch is placed on top of the soil but not tilled into the soil. Ultimately, they provide much-needed weed control by literally blocking the sprouting weeds.

Key Features

  • Premium grade pine bark mulch that fits into many farming projects
  • 100% organic and is thus biodegradable
  • Retains moisture
  • Regulates soil temperature
  • It takes a long time to break down and thus keeps soils aerated for long

Pros

  • The bark pieces are easy to spread
  • They have an appealing scent
  • It’s an acidic mulch and very favorable to blueberry plants
  • Doesn’t dissolve in water and watering them poses no adverse effects

Cons

  • Sometimes the bark chips are packaged wet
  • The bark chips come in tiny bags
  1. GROW!T Organic Coco Coir Planting Chips

The GROW!T Organic Coco Coir is processed from the fiber covering the outer part of a coconut shell. If you’re looking at a mulch that will hold water and drain it well, then you have to consider this coco coir.

The moisture retention and draining capacity of coco coir help the soil maintain moderate moisture and temperature levels. Furthermore, it’s one of the best mulching options for blueberries for its ability to control weeds and last long at it compared to straw or grass.

Coco coir is biodegradable. It decomposes just like any other organic substance and deposits organic matter into the soil that helps boost the soil’s nutrient level. Besides, it prevents the clinging of soil particles and thus enhances the free movement of air and nutrients.

Some varieties of coir inject good fungi into the soil that help inhibit disease-causing organisms that could kill your blueberries. 

Key Features

  • It resists fungus and has a high water retention capacity
  • It’s 100% organic and doesn’t have harmful chemicals
  • Harvesting of coir has no negative impact on the environment
  • Coco coir has a coarse texture that may keep slugs and snails at bay
  • It’s biodegradable and adds nutrients to the soil as it breaks down

Pros

  • Improves drainage of quick drainage soils
  • Easy to spread after soaking in water
  • They expand after soaking
  • The coir helps keep the soil moist
  • Coir takes a long time to break down

Cons

  • It has a neutral pH which is not so friendly to blueberries
  • The chips are fiber-like and not firm like normal chips
  1. Mbariket African Wood Sawdust as Mulch

The Nigerian African Wood sawdust is one of the best mulch for blueberries. Normally, sawdust is acidic. It keeps the soil pH as low as possible. Blueberry bushes thrive well in acidic conditions and choosing sawdust as mulch would be a great decision.

Sawdust is organic and is thus fully biodegradable. Therefore, it’s not a toxic mulch. It degrades to form part of the soil. Although it competes with your plants in absorbing the nitrogen gas from the soil while it rots away, the magnitude of absorption is low and cannot pose a great threat to your plants.

Nonetheless, if you want to keep sawdust from drawing significant amounts of nitrogen from your plants, don’t mix it with the soil. Place it on top just like the other mulches. Besides, you can add 1-pound ammonium nitrate (nitrogen) to every 50 pounds of sawdust to make up for the loss.

Sawdust tends to form a crust on its surface if left unmoved. The crust cuts down the amount of water penetrating the soil and inhibits the growth of weeds. Further, it absorbs moisture and reduces the need to water your blueberries frequently.

Key Features

  • Sawdust is a good alternative for straw
  • Maintains a low soil pH and is suitable for acid-loving plants
  • Retains moisture

Pros

  • It’s 100% organic
  • Contains no debris
  • Sawdust has no toxic chemicals
  • It’s packaged dry

Cons

  • Competes for nitrogen with the seedlings

10. Wood Smith Pine Shavings

Pine shavings fall in the same mulch category that works well with acid-loving mulches. They have a PH level of 3.5 – 4.5. If you’re growing blueberries on alkaline soil, you have to rely on the Wood Smith Pine shavings to lower the pH of your soil.

If you’ve researched a lot on mulching, you’ve certainly come across the nitrogen debate involving pine. Many farmers and agronomists claim that it deprives the soil of nitrogen and thus affects the plants. 

Pine shavings indeed absorb nitrogen from the soil as they degrade. However, that’s the case when they’re tilled into the soil. When they are applied on top of the soil (as mulch), then you don’t have to worry about them competing with your blueberry seedlings for nitrogen.

Pine doesn’t absorb water from the soil but rather retains the moisture in the soil. It’s the acidic mulch to consider if you have water retention on your mind.

Ultimately, it’s biodegradable. It rots away gradually to form part of the soil. When it rots, it adds to the quality of the soil by adding nutrients.

Key Features

  • Made of 100% natural pine wood and is thus non-toxic
  • High water retention capacity
  • Have a low pH and is thus ideal for acid-loving plants on alkaline soils
  • They’re 100% organic and degrade into the soil, boosting its quality.

Pros

  • They have a low pH that boosts the proper growth of blueberries
  • The shavings are free from toxic chemicals
  • Highly absorbent and thus maintain optimal soil moisture

Cons

  • Consumes some of the nitrogen needed by the blueberries.

Frequently Asked Questions on the Best Mulch for Blueberries

Farmers have some recurring concerns about selecting the right mulch for their blueberry plants. Let’s dig into some.

1. Can You Put Cedar Chips Around Blueberry Bushes?

Yes, cedar chips can be placed around blueberry bushes. Cedar chips fall into the category of acidic mulches. Blueberry bushes are acid-loving. Thus, they won’t deteriorate when mulched with cedar. 

However, it’s important to consider the pH of the soil. If the soil is too acidic, then it would be important to regulate the amount of cedar mulch used to avoid running out of balance.

2. Is Pine Bark Mulch Good for Blueberries? 

Yes. Blueberries thrive well in acidic soils. Pine bark has a low pH that keeps the soil acidic, hence good for blueberries. If you’re growing blueberries in acidic soils, then it’s good to consider pine bark mulch.

Further, pine bark retains moisture and keeps the soil loose. Blueberry plants enjoy a loose soil structure.

3. Is Pine Sawdust Good for Blueberries?

Yes. It helps blueberry bushes overcome the negative effects of high alkaline soils. However, fresh pine sawdust is associated with increased microbial activity and competes for nitrogen with your blueberries. To avoid this unhealthy competition, apply the sawdust on top of the soil but do not mix it with the soil.

Final Verdict

So what’s the best mulch for blueberries? It all depends on what you’re looking for. A good mulch retains moisture, keeps the weed at bay, blocks sunlight, and deposits valuable nutrients into the soil as it decomposes.

The best choice hinges on a clear understanding of your needs, for instance, the pH of your soil. Further, the level of growth of your blueberry seedlings is another crucial determining factor of the type of mulch to go for. Different stages may need different mulches. If you carefully follow this guide, nothing should stop you from growing some of the best blueberry bushes ever!

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