Skip to main content

Logo for N.C. Cooperative Extension N.C. Cooperative Extension Homepage

Pruning Rabbiteye Blueberries

blueberry bush

Annual pruning increases fruit size and quality.

Pruning blueberry bushes each year will keep plants shorter, healthier and more productive.

Remove all flower buds and cut stems back by 50% the first year plants are set out. This will allow plants to direct energy into root and stem growth, resulting in healthier, more productive plants in future years.

Keep 2-3 year old plants healthy by removing any broken, diseased, crossing or spindly growth.

Once plants reach 4-5 years old, prune them each winter by cutting out 3 to 4 of the largest, oldest canes. Crossing, diseased and low hanging branches should also be removed. Prune after the plants have shed their leaves but before flower buds begin to open (Dec-March).

Diagram of blueberry pruning

Prune blueberry plants by removing a few canes each year to improve light penetration and air circulation. Image source: Missouri Extension

Large, old bushes that have not been pruned for many years can be rejuvenated by cutting out 1/3 of the canes each year for three consecutive years. Cut the canes (or stems) back as close to ground level as possible to encourage production of new, vigorous growth. Learn more about pruning blueberries:

Learn more about growing blueberries in the NC Piedmont: click here

Use Extension Search to find research based information from Cooperative Extension systems across the U.S.

Extension Gardener classes and workshops teach science-based, sustainable gardening principles and practices for central NC. To sign up for upcoming classes visit: click here 

Help spread science-based, sustainable gardening information and advice in your community by becoming an Extension Master Gardener Volunteer! Learn more about the Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program in Chatham County: click here 

Visit your local Cooperative Extension center to learn more about gardening and landscape care. Find your county Extension center or post your questions to be answered online via Extension’s ‘Ask an Expert’ widget.

Subscribe to the Chatham Gardener email list to receive timely updates on sustainable lawn, garden, and landscape care for the central NC Piedmont. To subscribe: