Blueberry Plant Shriveled Up

Alex8769August 10, 2013

Hi, I'm a new member on GardenWeb. Here's my problem:

I recently ordered three young, 5 inch tall blueberry plants in the mail 3 days ago. One (Misty) was thriving with lots of fresh green leaves and strong stems, one (Sunshine Blue) had one main stem/cane with about 10 fresh leaves and the last (Gulf Coast) was about 2 inches tall with lots of stems and leaves. My inquiry is about the last two plants, Sunshine Blue and Gulf Coast. The Sunshine blueberry plant's leaves turned brown from the outside and eventually dropped off in 1.5 days. The other arrived looking just as it is now-dark green, shriveled leaves and stems. I'm watering all three plants every day with purified drinking water, and the soil mixture is about 65% sphagnum peat and 35% coco bark. I strongly suspect the reason two of the plants are dying is that I over-fertilized, but the misty plant looks fine and is healthy. The actual questions are (lol) can someone confirm that the reason sunshine blue is dying is over-fertilization, and can someone tell me why my gulf coast plant is all shriveled up? Sorry if this seems kind of confusing.

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What kind of fertilizer did you use and how much? Blues dont require much fert to begin with and organic fert or ammonium based ferts are the way to go. Even then a light hand when fertilizing is a must.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 7:21AM
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You take a chance when purchasing plants of any kind through the mail. The seller might do a good job of packing, with a sealed bag, peat moss, and just the right amount of water, but there is no way of knowing how long the package will be in transit, and no way of knowing how warm(or cold) the back of the vehicle will get. Bare root stock is usually soaked overnight, in a bucket of water, before being planted. That is what I remember, from the last time I ordered blueberry plants through the mail. As a rule I buy blueberry shrubs locally, potted up, and transplant in the spring, around April 1, or in the fall, around September 15. I keep them watered, but I do not apply fertilizer during the first 6 months.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 9:03AM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

This is not a good time to be shipping live plants, especially in your zone. They also sound rather tiny. It doesn't take much to stress out a baby plant. Most reputable nurseries will not ship this time of year, and if they do they want to protect their reputation and require you to pay for 1 or 2 day service.

Were you able to find customer ratings for this nursery?

    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 12:03PM
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Yes-I bought the plants on ebay from a top-rated seller name Gray Gardens-99.8% customer satisfaction and generally excellent reviews.
I am now pretty sure two of them will die (10 bucks wasted) since the leaves are gone and there is small, white fuzzy growth in soil. I suppose it's a combination of over-fertilization and stress that made two die.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 10:13PM
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Blueboy1977 - I used maxicrop seaweed fertilizer for acid loving plants and also a very small amount of Bonide Iron Sulfate on all three plants. As said in my first post, the Misty blueberry plant seemed to thrive on it, but the other two did not seem tolerant.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 10:16PM
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Since two of them are pretty much dead and one is thriving, I would like to be advised on where(online) to buy older, hardier blueberry plants and when.(My local Lowe's, Home Depot, and etc. don't sell blueberry plants) I don't have much experience in growing blueberries aside from research on the internet and this experience. Thanks

    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 10:21PM
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Eric and milehighgirl gave you great advice on when not to order plants. I don't even know of a nursery that will ship blues in the summer. Usually they are shipped in the winter when dormant. It sounds like you received tissue culture plugs. I've had great success with those but as stated above they were received and planted in Jan. I've never waited 6 months to fertilize new plants but I've always used a slow release organic fert. Actually I mix some up in my potting mix and plant it. They have all thrived! The only problems I've run into is N2 defiency from too much wood and or sap wood in my mix. I don't see where the sea weed would cause any harm at all but the iron sulfate may have been applied to hastily. Even so I believe being shipped in the summer is the root cause of your problem.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 11:53PM
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To answer your last question I've gotten good quality plants from Just Fruits and Exotics. They are in Florida and will only ship in the late fall-late winter for reasons stated above. I believe True Blue Nursery also in Florida would have quality plants. I know Bamboorabbit has got good plants from them.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 11:58PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Where are you in CA? When I lived in Long Beach, the garden centers always had bluevberries.

But the time they sold them is January through March, often as bareroot.

And that's definitely the time & condition to get them, while they're dormant. You take them home, plant them in their ready-made bed/pot, and they "wake up" and start growing in their new home.

But tell us where in CA you are. Chances are you will need to do some major soil changes, as in seriously modify tan entire bed. Or plant the bushes in containers in an acid planting mix. I used a commercial potting soil for azaleas & rhodies when I grew them in Long Beach.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 12:29AM
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jean001a-I live in about the same area as you, sw ca in Irvine. Maybe I need to search Irvine more thoroughly for garden centers I may have missed. Anyways, the plants I have are in containers (no room in back yard) and have a pH of around 5.0.

Thanks for the info blueboy1977 :)

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 2:05PM
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