Leaves Dried & Fell Off Blueberry Plant

ndmurray(8)October 1, 2012

I have a blueberry plant that is still in the 5 gallon nursery container. It produced a few berries over the summer but recently started dropping leaves. Now, all the leaves have fallen off but the branches are still green.

The soil may have dried out last week, but only for a day before I watered it again.

Any idea what could have caused the leaves to drop - disease? water issues? Just want to know if I should prune it now or later...or throw it away.

The plant was near my raised beds where my poor tomatoes were overcome by whiteflies (I could not get a handle on them and finally had to pull the plants). I never noticed any infestation on the blueberry plant, though.

Thanks for any insight you may have.

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Hi nd,
Did the leaves turn brown first?Possibly check the roots for their condition.How old is the plant and how long has it been in your care?Five gallons is a fair size container for a plant that produced a few berries.How hot has it been? Thanks,Brady

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 9:27PM
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Hi Brady.

I bought the plant last spring, so have only had it for 6 months or so. Since the plant is still in the container, it's hard to assess the roots, however they are not pouring out the container at the bottom so they have stayed within the pot.

Some turned brown, but most of the browning was just on the edges. I've attached a photo so you can see what the fallen leaves look like.

The plant produced over 100 berries, but I only harvested 30 or so as the others never got very big. I just attributed it to the plant possibly being root-bound and maybe the plant not getting a ton of water.

As for the recent weather, last week was foggy mornings and 70s to 80s during the day. Over the weekend, the temps spiked to the 90s and today was pushing 100, but the leaves were pretty much gone by them anyway.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 9:43PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Were the leaves heavily spotted before they fell?

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 9:44PM
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They pretty much looked like they do in this picture.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 9:53PM
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Looks like the plant got too dry. Lack of water will cause the leafs to dry up and fall. What kind of water are using? City water, well water, rain water??? Did the leafs start turning yellow before they fell?

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 11:23PM
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We are on city water. I did not notice the leaves turning a color before falling off. Just the slight browning and maybe a lightening of the green, but definitely not yellowing.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 11:26PM
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How many plants do you have? If just 1 or 2 your plants they would be much happier using rain water. I would get a rain barrel from one of the box stores and put it under a gutter. There are many articles about water quaility and blueberries. City water is not good at all for blues. From what Ive read, chlorine and chloramine(some cities are using instead of chlorine now) damages the roots and kills the fungi in the soil that the roots depend on for water absorbtion. The roots can not function properly afterwards and even if the soil is wet the roots just dont meet the water demand of the plants. Its a shame that water quality isnt even mentioned on the tags of blueberry plants as its probably one of the major causes for failure growing these plants. Soil ph is another issue that will cause problems but if your leafs werent turning yellow the ph was probably good enough. City water will also raise your soil ph over time and you run into other problems. I would repot the poor thing in a little bigger pot with 70% pine bark mulch, 20% peat moss,10% perilite and a pinch of soil sulfer. If you can find some mycorrhizal fungi use it. Blueberry roots depend on the fungi and will be much happier. I know Berries Unlimited has it on there web site under the blueberry varieties they carry. All that plus rain water equals happy blueberries.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 11:57PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)


You posted the picture while I was asking:) Those black pots dry out fast in the sun. If the plant is good sized and is a mass of roots the pots don't hold a lot of water anyway. Generally the Bb roots will just circle in the pot and not come out the drain holes. Your plant got seriously dry. It should leaf back out, hopefully not this year though. You had not fertilized it, correct?

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 7:25AM
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