My Bilberry Saga
Last fall I received 3 bilberry bushes (very small) from Hartmann's and transplanted them to pots. One died within a couple of weeks, the second in a couple of months, and the third has lasted until this spring with green branches, but no signs yet of budding leaves or flowers.
Two weeks ago, I was sent two replacement bushes. Both looked great, with leaves and flowers, but within two weeks only one is thriving and the other is dead.
On Friday, a second order of 3 bushes (made before I realized I was going to lose one of the replacements) brought plants again with leaves and flowers, but one was already browning and the other two look a bit iffy.
Last fall I had no idea of what to do, so the losses were likely due to my own ineptitude, but this spring I think I was doing the right things: using Al's gritty mix, white vinegar in the water to keep it acid, and pine needles as a mulch. The weather here in so. Calif. has been cool to hot but my balcony is rather sheltered, so there have been no extremes.
The plants arrived in a very dark soil surrounded by what seemed to be walls of the same soil, only harder, more like cardboard. They were also root-bound, so I had to soak them for a while and it was very difficult to remove the hardened soil. In some cases, I couldn't remove all the soil because the roots were so delicate and the soil so enmeshed.
These plants had a 4-5 day shipment to me via UPS.
1. I've given above all the relevant info I can think of. Can anyone here tell me what may be causing my terrible success rate? I know bilberries are temperamental, but still . . .
2. Would I be better off starting from seeds?
3. Since I have, for now anyway, one vibrant little bush, should I try to get cuttings from it? (Or would another season be better?)
I want bilberries for medical reasons, so please don't suggest just going to blueberries.