blueberry question

Lynn NevinsSeptember 3, 2012

About 3 months ago I bought two blueberry plants...both northern called Liberty and the other Aurora. Both were repotted into large pots.

The Liberty has been doing very well...getting bigger, and looking really healthy. Some of the stems however are getting a bit leggy and so the plant doesn't have a dense compact appearance anymore. Not that it looks BAD but....would it be better if I cut back some of the leggier stems in order to promote more bushy growth, or does it really not matter....and maybe it matters more in later years once I start getting actual fruit?

As for the Aurora plant, when I first got it it was in excellent even had berries already on it! But alas, I got busy with work and didn't repot or water it for 1.5 days...this during a really bad heatwave and with the plant sitting out on my balcony. While the Liberty fared fine, the Autora leaves and berries were completely dried out, and no amount of water could repair them. So I cut back the entire plant and within a few days I had new growth.

That was about 2.5 months ago. And while the plant looks ok, it has remained somewhat stagnant in comparison to the Liberty. The Aurora does have never growth...I can see that....but overall the rate of new growth is occurring very very slowly. Should I be concerned that it's growing so much slower than the Liberty?

I've been treating both plants the same...they get the same amount of sun, water, the occasional fish fertilizer. I'd heard that blueberries like acidic soil. Do I need to worry about that right now....adding something to make it more acidic? I think I'd heard you can/should do that in the Spring, using ammonium sulfate or blood meal?

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Lynn Nevins

oh...I also saw that it recommended pine, fir or hemlock for mulch, but I don't have any forests around here where I could collect some. ;-) Does anyone know of a place online that might sell this? Right now I have coconut mulch on top of the soil....

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 12:44PM
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I have found that letting a bb plant dry out sets it back for some time. My guess is you won't see that plant take off again until next spring. Make sure when you water that you give it big drinks........fill the whole pot up with water. The reason I say this is because when I moved my plants from pots to the ground the bottom third of the pots had dead roots and the soil was all dry. You want to see some water coming out of the holes in the bottom of the pot when you water.

When it gets super hot, you might try moving the plants to a spot where they aren't in full sun all day. They don't need full sun all day despite what most will tell you and when it's really hot they have trouble keeping up when in pots. My good friend has plants thriving in pots and they only get sun from about 9 am til 2 pm each day.


    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 12:55PM
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About the mulch, you might look around for a pine tree and collect the needles under it, this is what I did. Blend the pine needles with some peat moss which will help lower the pH. The pH of pine needles isn't quite low enough as I understand it and the peat will help correct this. You might also be able to find pine bark at Lowes, WalMart or Home Depot.


    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 12:57PM
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I don't have pine trees, but I rake up the fallen needles from my yew hedge and arborvitae for mulch.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 1:05PM
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Lynn Nevins

Thanks all. I do always water the plant fully so that water pours out from the bottom of the planters. I then have the pot up on pot feet so that it gets a bit of air circulation underneath.

As for sun, my balcony only gets direct north/west sun from say 2:00-7:00p each day.

I think I did see pine bark mulch somewhere that would work? I was thinking it had to be pine NEEDLES....

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 1:35PM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

Also if you check the container forum there are others in the NYC area that have found the pine bark mulch to make a good container mix for blueberries.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 2:11PM
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I've had several plants go stagnant but if you take care of them they will take off next spring as RM said.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 3:50PM
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Lynn Nevins

great on the stagnant I'll wait and see what happens next year.

I did find online bags of pine bark mulch, sold as '2 cubic feet', but I've no idea how big of a bag that means...whether that woiuld be enough/too much for two pots that are about 12' wide each.


    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 4:38PM
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Bradybb WA-Zone8

That's like a big bag of dry dog food.The shipping is probably going to cost way more than the mulch.
Is there a Lowes,Home Depot or Walmart nearby.They most likely carry it. Brady

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 5:24PM
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Lynn Nevins

hmmm..that might be too much then. Living in an NYC apartment it's not like I can store the extra somewhere. I don't think they are sold in amounts less than that. Oh well....

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 5:29PM
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Find an area nursery, they can probably help you. Tell them you need a small amount of pine mulch, better yet call around before taking the time to drive. If you can't find the pine then use's good stuff and available almost anywhere.

In early spring cut back any dead limb tips and your plant that dried out and I'm guessing it will spring back.


    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 7:08PM
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Don't worry about the pine needles, they don't do much with the pH anyway. You are in pots, so just mulch with spagnum peat. We use whatever is available for mulch, wood shavings, wood chips but we need large volumes. Peat is too expensive, pine needles aren't available in this area by the semi-load like they are down South.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 8:34AM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

Whatever mix you settle on don't forget to add approx. 2 tablespoons of 5% white vinegar per gallon of water. I'm sure your tap water will test to a pH of about 8.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 10:20AM
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