Blueberries - straight vinegar?

GoBruinsAugust 14, 2013

hi,

my blueberries look a little pitiful, and i'm pretty sure it's because of high PH (even though they are in pots).

I need to give them a shot in the arm. the label on the distilled white vinegar bottle says the PH is 5.0. if in fact this is the case, couldn't I give them a dose of straight vinegar, instead of diluting it in water?

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mes111(5b -Purling NY & 7b -Nassau County NY)

ARE SURE IT DOES NOT SAY THAT IT IS 5% VINEGAR AND NOT 5 PH?

Mike

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 1:49PM
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shazaam(NC 7B)

What Mike said -- my understanding is that white vinegar typically has a pH of 2.5, so I think you're misreading the label. That aside, what makes you think that the pH of your potting mix is too high? Have you tested it? Have you tested your irrigation water?

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 2:02PM
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yukkuri_kame(Sunset 19 / USDA 9)

Back away from the ledge..it may seem there are no other options right now, but there is hope you just can't see it.

Plants typically don't respond to extreme measures. How about top dressing with a layer of coffee grounds? Moderately acid and a little slow-release nitrogen.

Yes, test the soil.

Also, what's in your potting mix?

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 2:29PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Vinegar is used to kill weeds, so straight I bet it would kill it dead, and you will find it the next day with little crosses over it's eyes. Dilute it in water till water has a PH 5.0, which is not much for a gallon, less than a teaspoon.
You can also use Ammonium sulfate to boost PH slightly. And fertilize your plant. 1 teaspoon per 2.5 gallons.

This post was edited by Drew51 on Wed, Aug 14, 13 at 14:31

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 2:30PM
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GoBruins

thanks for the responses. it's the Heinz brand white distilled vinegar, and the label reads:

...5% (50 grain) acidity.

somewhat vague. i'm not sure what 5% acidity translates to.

water tests out to about 7.8, and as a result, the soil consistently tests out to high 6's.

This post was edited by GoBruins on Wed, Aug 14, 13 at 15:14

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 3:03PM
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GoBruins

well, a little research tells me that the PH is around 2.4, so it would not be a good idea to give it a straight shot of vinegar :)

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 3:22PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

GoBruins,

lol no:) bad idea. If you want a easy way to ballpark the PH go to say Walmart and get a bottle of PH strips for checking pool PH. The color code on the bottle won't help as it won't go down low enough but the strip itself will. What you want is a goldenrod to orange color on the strip.if you get to red you went too far. Or you can take th strip and dunk it in black coffee and look at the color of the strip.that is the color you want but again the strip should show you goldenrod to orange. Once you know how much vinegar to add to 5 gallons of water just duplicate that every time.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 4:19PM
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ericwi

Here in Madison, Wisconsin, our local tap water, supplied by city wells, has pH around 7.6. I am currently using agricultural sulfur to lower soil pH in our blueberry beds, but I used to use vinegar, 5% acidity, from our local grocery store. Using 4 gallons of cold tap water, it took 12 fluid ounces of white vinegar to lower the pH of the water from 7.6 to around 5. The blueberry shrubs did well with this treatment, but the effect is temporary, and the pH will rise back up in a few weeks. I think the vinegar is consumed by bacteria living in the soil. Sulfur works more slowly, but the effect on pH lasts for at least a year.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 5:54PM
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ericwi

Here in Madison, Wisconsin, our local tap water, supplied by city wells, has pH around 7.6. I am currently using agricultural sulfur to lower soil pH in our blueberry beds, but I used to use vinegar, 5% acidity, from our local grocery store. Using 4 gallons of cold tap water, it took 12 fluid ounces of white vinegar to lower the pH of the water from 7.6 to around 5. The blueberry shrubs did well with this treatment, but the effect is temporary, and the pH will rise back up in a few weeks. I think the vinegar is consumed by bacteria living in the soil. Sulfur works more slowly, but the effect on pH lasts for at least a year.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 5:55PM
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GoBruins

thank you for the responses.

elemental sulfur is what i'd want ideally, but that stuff is hard to get here in the Los Angeles area. I've tried the coffee grounds, ammonium sulfate, etc., but those seem to be temporary fixes.

so it sounds like I need to mix about 12 ozs of vinegar to 4 gallons of water and use that on a permanent basis?

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 7:27PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Yes, but I think it would be better to use sulfuric acid, But it is dangerous, although it would probably be cheaper, Amazon has it. It would keep PH down a lot longer. You can mail order soil sulfur too, if you can't find it, but every garden center I ever was in had it.

This post was edited by Drew51 on Wed, Aug 14, 13 at 20:14

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 8:12PM
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GoBruins

something like this?

Here is a link that might be useful: Elemental sulfur

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 8:46PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Bruins,

Just because Drew needed 12 ounces you could need 4 ounces or 20 ounces even if his PH and yours are the same. It has to do with the bicarbonate load in the water and all water is different. If you want to water them with the right PH you have to test your water.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 9:22PM
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GoBruins

that's another good point. thank you.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 9:51PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

With potted plants, it's normal for the pH to gradually drift toward a more acid pH rather than toward a higher pH.

What potting mix are you using?
How long has the plant been in that container?
What fertilizer do you use?
What is your water source?

And, where do you live?

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 10:21PM
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2ajsmama

What's the pH of your rain water? Could you collect rain?

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 10:23PM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

Yeah 12 ounces per 4 gallons sounds like a lot. That would be 6 tablespoons per gallon. My tap pH is 7.8, and total alkalinity is about 115. I can use 3 tablespoons of vinegar in 2 gallons of tap water to bring the pH down to near 5. You definitely need to do some experimenting with your water. Like was mentioned above, it's all about the bicarbonates.

This post was edited by edweather on Thu, Aug 15, 13 at 0:29

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 12:26AM
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jbclem(z9b Topanga, Ca)

I'm in the Los Angeles area (Topanga Canyon) and I use 1.5-2 tablespoons of vinegar in a 2-21/2 gallon watering can. When I've checked, this seems to bring the pH down to 4.5-5.5 . This amount definitely doesn't hurt my blueberry plants and they look healthy (as long as I water them a lot in hot weather).

I also have a 5 lb bag of Soil Acidifier by Espoma which I haven't used very much yet. I bought it either at Home Depot or one of the Green Thumb/Green Arrow nurseries in the San Fernando Valley. The label says it's derived from Elemental Sulfur and Gypsum and is 30% Sulfur.

The container mix I use for blueberries is 50% peat moss and 50% Supersoil potting soil.

John

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 5:47AM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

"What's the pH of your rain water? Could you collect rain"?

It would not matter. The reason rain water is so good for the blues isn't due to the PH it is due to the lack of bicarbonates in rainwater.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 7:22AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

BTW it isn't me who uses 12 ounces of vinegar as mentioned. I only need an oz/gallon or less. I have not had to use it recently as it's been raining all summer. I need to figure out the ratio again, I forgot? I'm switching to acid soon anyway. I'm only a backyard grower, but I have so many plants I need to use about 50 gallons of water each time I water. So when i collect rainwater I have enough for about 3 waterings which I could use in one week in the middle of summer. As mentioned it's rained a lot so all is good this year.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 10:29AM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

That was my fault, sorry. it was Eric not Drew that said 12 ounces.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 1:54PM
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DaveLindahl5432(4)

Most of the vinegar will be at 3% acidic according to OSHA I work in the cleaning field and I have to know my ph and acidic in the chemicals we use. Be careful with it because vinegar is strong and will remove rust and even hard water stains.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 1:17PM
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