How often do I need to acidify the soil of my blueberry bushes?

TGibsonJuly 24, 2012

Hi there. I am a newbie at gardening. I planted a blueberry bush last year. After doing my gardening research in the winter, I found a lot of things I should have done to this blueberry plant.

1) Plant another blueberry bush nearby to yield a better crop

2) check ph and acidify the soil.

So this spring, I purchased another blueberry bare root plant and planted it about 3-4 feet away from the previous bush. The nursery gave be a bag of sulfite to acidify the soil before planting.

Question - do I add this sulfite once a year? every few weeks? how often?

The one I planted last year is small (1 foot high) and gave me 5-6 half pea size blueberries. Thoughts? Also, I have strawberry plants planted around them (which gave me hardly any yield. and raspberry bushes as well.

Other question, how close do the blueberry bushes need to be to be productive?

Random question, I planted 2 pink lemonade blueberry bushes because my kids loved the idea of it. Any thoughts on these. Wish me luck next year to get a yield!

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Bradybb(wa8)

Hello TGibson,
Sulfite,is that Sulfur?If it is Sulfur,a yellowish powder or granule,it can be put on about once a year,about a couple tablespoons per plant,mixed gently into the soil surface.It may take about that long to see results though,as the microbes change it to Sulfuric acid.
It is a good idea to see what the actual soil pH is,by way of a soil test or an accurate meter.
It will probably make a difference to pull the berries off the first couple of years,so that the plant can grow more in roots and leaves.Not so much fun on our part.
Bumblebees are usually the most common pollinators of Blueberries and they will fly a good distance between plants.
Strawberries also like an acid soil.I'm not sure about Raspberries.
I also have a Pink Lemonade Blueberry plant,that I picked up early this Spring and it is growing like a weed.It only has a few berries though,which I'm eager to try.
What is your soil amended with?I use Pine bark mulch and Moss Peat.About 70/30 mix.
I'm going to close with the words that the man who welcomed me on this forum a little over a year ago, when I announced my intentions to grow them."Blueberries are the easiest things to grow until their not".Have fun and I hope they do really well. Brady

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 12:32AM
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neptune24

Hi, TGibson. I don't know the answer to your question, but to save time, I've heard you can use pistachio shells as mulch to help continually acidify the soil. Hope that helps. :)

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 2:16AM
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capoman(5a)

TGibson:

Bradybb's advice is all good. Thing with sulfur though is that you need to understand your current soil before applying it. You should not just add as if it was fertilizer. You need to measure your pH and it's trends. Sulfur can take six months to convert to usable form. If your pH is very high, you may also need to use aluminum sulphate to get the pH down faster initially, then use sulfur for the long term. Once your pH is down, you'll have to cut back on sulphur quite a bit, especially if you use acidic mulch. Sandy soil requires less sulfur then clay soils.

Best way is to prepare the soil properly before planting. I had my plants in a garden initially that wasn't prepared well and always struggled with maintaining pH in my sandy soil and the plants never flourished. I finally converted a raised bed one year by amending it with sulfur and peat moss in the fall. The next spring I transplanted them and they have thrived since. I mulch with pine bark and chopped spruce cones, and have to use very little sulphur now to maintain it.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 9:37AM
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capoman(5a)

I should mention also, that once you do get it down, they are one of the easiest plants to maintain. They are low maintenance and very hardy with few pests. Several inches of acidic mulch, and you don't need to week or water often.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 9:42AM
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canadianplant

I dont use sulfur. I planted by blueberry plants in straight up peat moss, put an inch of coffee grounds around the plant (there is debate as to whether this acidifies the soil, but there is definitely literature pertaining to iron uptake!) and put a good 5 inches of pine multch (old twigs, needles and broken cones). Pine needles will slowly acidify the soil, like it does in the berries habitat.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 10:12AM
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northwoodswis4

I think the recommendation for two bushes means two different varieties for cross pollination. It sounds like you just have the two pink blueberry lemonade bushes. You might add another variety. Northwoodswis

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 11:24AM
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blazeaglory(10 SZ22/24 OC Ca)

I agree with canadianplant. And also you could use elemental sulfur, Its less toxic to the plants than aluminum sulfate.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2012 at 12:59AM
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ericwi

If you are using your local well water, or tap water, to irrigate your blueberry shrub, then you need to know the pH, or hardness, of the water. If the water has significant dissolved limestone, then you will be raising the soil pH every time you water the shrub, and this affects how much and how often to add sulfur. The least expensive way to test for water pH that I know of is to use an aquarium water test kit-they have these for sale at pet stores where tropical fish are sold. Here in Madison, Wisconsin, we have hard water, and the pH is around 7.6. I add 12 fluid ounces of 5% white vinegar to 4 gallons of water when irrigating our blueberry shrubs. I also use agricultural sulfur, typically one pound every two or three years, per shrub. We also have alkaline soil here, with pH around 7.6. There is a lot of natural limestone in southern Wisconsin, both on the surface, and underground, where the aquifers are located. I don't know the pH of your soil and water, so I can't say if you should be using vinegar and sulfur as I do. Once you understand pH, blueberries are easy to grow. They need plenty of sunlight, extra vegetable fiber in the soil, and periodic watering during drought conditions. That's about it.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2012 at 11:05AM
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