Young blueberry bushes are usually planted in late winter while fully dormant and leafless. In North Carolina, this translates to February or early March. During the first year, flower buds are removed by pruning, or by stripping off flowers by hand after the blooms emerge. In subsequent years, flower buds must be thinned to prevent overcropping and to promote the vegetative growth so vital to the establishment of a full-sized bush.
The diagrams below show growth of a single blueberry bush for the first three years, with "before" and "after" pruning comparisons each February. The color red is used to represent one-year-old growth and dormant flower buds. Click on each image to enlarge.