Burned Blueberry Bushes

lawanddisorder(6)June 7, 2013

I am having a tough time with my potted blueberry bushes. They are potted, and I added a soil acidifier as recommended. I started with 4 and I'm pretty sure one is completely dead and another is starting to look really bad.

The leaves look burnt and are falling off. Should I add more acidifier? Water more/less?

Any ideas or suggestions would be really appreciated

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shazaam(NC 7B)

Are your blueberries still in the general purpose organic potting mix that you mentioned in a previous thread? What kind of soil acidifier did you use? Do you have an accurate pH reading for your potting mix?

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 1:48PM
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Thanks, Shazaam,

The soil started as a mixture of high quality organic potting soil, mid grade perennial potting soil and peat moss, as was recommended by my local nursery. Then, a couple days after planting, I added an acidifier (I don't remember the brand) after the blueberries were potted, by sprinkling the suggested amount (I believe it may have been one tbsp per inch of pot depth) on the top of the soil.

Then just watered when the soil got rather dry a couple times. I would estimate that its been a little over a month since potting/adding acidifier.

I'm sure I should have added the acidifier when mixing the soil, but at that point I didn't realize blueberries required acidic soil.

I have not tested the ph. I will tonight.

I will try and add a few pictures tonight, too, if that will help.

To add insult to injury, the bushes had just flowered and were beginning to develop berries. Now most have dried out and fallen off.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 2:23PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Blueberries won't tolerate dry soil. So it could be that they are just too dry. Don't add anything else but water until they start to recover and grow. This isn't a pH issue so quickly. The soil must be kept moist especially on newly planted bushes. And remember they haven't established much in the way of new roots. Basically water as you would the original rootball.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 2:49PM
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shazaam(NC 7B)

Then just watered when the soil got rather dry a couple times.

Fruitnut is right. If the soil dried out too much, then that could definitely explain the burned leaves and defoliation. I nearly killed two mature blueberries bushes a couple of years ago by letting them get too dry, and that's exactly what happened -- the leaves curled up, turned brown, and dropped. For new transplants, adequate moisture is even more critical. Like fruitnut advised, avoid fertilizer for the time being since that can also be a potential source of stress for the plants, and, if they're in full sun, you might want to shade them a bit or move them to an area that gets some afternoon shade.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 3:45PM
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You said you added 1 tablespoon of soil acidifier per inch of pot depth. For a 16 inch deep pot this would be 1 cup. Does that seem like a lot to anyone else?

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 4:00PM
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Thanks everyone.

So, Fruitnut, how long would it take for a ph problem to develop?

If the cause was lack of watering, I'd be surprised a little, because they never got overly dried out, just the top inch or so of the pot would get dry and then I'd water them, but I guess that theory makes more sense than anything else.

Do you think the small plants may still be alive, even if the visible branches appear to be dead on one of the plants - is it possible that the roots could still be alive and will send up another shoot like blackberries do, or do blueberries not grow like that?

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 4:43PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)


It is hard to say since we don't know what the product was. I agree with fruitnut .they got dry and they just won't tolerate it. Shade the pots but not the plants. Mulch the top of the pots very heavily. Anything you can do to keep that soil cool and moist.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 4:45PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)


You have not fertilized the bushes have you? Wish you could remember what the soil acidifier you used was.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 8:00PM
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