100 % Peat Moss?

mnten(z7tn)March 16, 2007

I received 2 blueberries yesterday, and the instructions on planting them said to dig holes 20 inches wide and 15 inches deep. It said to replace the native soil with 100% peat moss that had been wet thoroughly. Has anyone ever heard of this? I always thought you should use one third peat and two thirds soil. But it said in bold letters to use 100% peat moss.

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What are your soil conditions like? Have you had it tested?

Blueberries do appreciate acidic soil conditions and even moisture through the growing season similar to rhodies and azaleas. But I'd not recommend planting them in 100% peat nor would I do the same for blueberries. Peat has virtually no nutritive value and can retain excessive moisture around the root zone, specially if used exclusively to amend planting holes in heavy or clay soils. An organically rich, moisture retentive soil that still offers good drainage is preferred - amend with compost if you need to amend with anything and do so over an extended area rather than focusing on the planting holes. If you need to decrease soil pH, you can incorporate peat as well, or sulfur or cottonseed hulls or meal. Fertilizing moderately with an acid-lovers fomulation (most often labeled as rhododendron, azalea and camellia fertilizer) can also help to maintain pH, as they typically contain acidifiers as well as necessary nutrients. But you need to be aware that most soils resist altering pH substantially and any changes will be temporary and short term and need to be repeated often.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2007 at 11:40AM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

I agree 100% with gardengal. What they usually say is to heal bare root plants in moist peat moss until they can be planted. That is just a way to keep the roots moist until they are in the ground. They should not be kept this way very long, definitly not when they are breaking dormancy. I would go with the 1/3 peat, 2/3 soil.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2007 at 12:21AM
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railroadrabbit(7b - Atlanta)

It seems that I read on another forum last year that someone had planted their blueberies in 100% peat moss. If I remember correctly they had photos with healthy looking plants.

The peat moss will loose its volume very quickly--probably half or more will disappear in a year. Worms like to munch on it, etc. The peat moss is also difficult to wet again if it ever dries out. You will need to put a thick layer of mulch on top to prevent drying out.

Check your hole to be sure it drains. Fill it with water. If it doesn't drain within 30 min. your blueberry plant roots will rot.

My county extension agent told me that commercial growers/fruit producers in GA are putting the blueberry plants on top of the existing soil and "planting" them by piling 6 inches or more of milled pine bark or pine bark mini-nuggets. He said you have to water them frequently during the first year, but after that they develop a good root system. The pine bark breaks down very slowly and will only loose about an inch per year. It is also an acid material suitable for blueberries. But you do need to fertilize.

I planted azaleas last year using this method. I took them out of the nursery pots, set them on the grass, and piled the milled pine bark/nuggets around them. They are very healthy. I also have some sickly azaleas in soil that I'm going to dig up and "plant" in the pine bark this week.

In August I had three blueberries that started declining because the soil they were in had returned back to a pH of about 7. They looked like they were going to die. I dug them out of the soil, put them in large landscape pots with a mix of milled pine bark soil conditioner and half pine bark mini-nuggets. I looked at them this weekend and they look very healthy and have recovered nicely.

The milled pine bark soil conditioner that I have used is "Garden Plus" brand Soil Conditioner from Lowes. Lowes also has another brand, "Evergreen", that smells like turpentine and is about 50% green wood chips that will kill your plants, so don't buy it. I have also used the Nature's Helper brand from Home Depot, but I prefer the Garden Plus if I can get it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Commercial Blueberries in Pine Bark Beds

    Bookmark   March 19, 2007 at 2:24AM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

There is a good site on planting blueberries. The link is below. They state:

"When planting blueberries, backfill with a mixture of 1/2 (moist) peat and 1/2 soil."

If soil was extremely rich in limestone (a very high pH), then I could see that only a raised bed rich in peat would be productive, but I still don't understand why one would try 100% peat moss. The problems with pure peat moss are enormous. Now Peat Humus is another thing and I use it frequently with rhododendrons and azaleas.

Here is a link that might be useful: Growing Blueberries in the Home Garden

    Bookmark   March 19, 2007 at 3:36PM
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I know this a old post, but I was hoping mnten could give a update if their blueberries survived the 100%peat moss test. I bought blueberries and was given the same instructions I am a little skeptical and just am curious if theirs survived.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2009 at 3:45PM
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