Blueberry lovers

therealdealOctober 9, 2010

Hello all. I just picked up a few Blueberry bushes. Gulf Ccoast, Emerald and one other one I cant think of right now.

I was given this info for care. What do you think? Seems pretty striaght forward and good advice. I am particuallry interested in your thoughts on the fert section and spraying sections.

Thanks.

Care of Blueberry Vaccinium spp.

Habit of growth: Mostly upright, some varieties spreading. A shrub or small tree 4-6 feet if pruned properly.

Location: Full sun for best flowering and fruiting.

Soil: Ideally, likes strongly acidic soil.

pH of 4.0 - 5.5. Mulch with oak leaves or pine needles. Needs rich, organic soil with peat.

Water: Plenty of water; moist soil, but do not allow to stand in water.

Salt Tolerance: Not tolerant.

Freezes: Leaves freeze at 29�F. Hardy when dormant in winter.

Cultivation: Blueberries have shallow roots, so do not till land around them. Weed control is essential because if their shallow roots.

Fertilizer: 7-5-8 Azalea granular fertilizer on March 1st, June 1st and August 1st; 2-10-10 granular bloom booster fertilizer on November 1st and February 1st. Citrus nutritional spray at a rate of 1 tbs. per gallon water 1-2 times per year in spring and early summer when new growth is 3/4 grown.

Spraying: Occasionally in warmer and more humid months for mealy bugs and other insects, 4tbs. per gallon water with Conserve Naturalite insecticide. Blueberries must be sprayed during the warm and humid months of summer about 1 times per month starting in Mid-May, through September with Liquid Copper Fungicide at a rate of 4 tsp. per gallon water sprayed on the entire tree.

Pruning: Prune to shape. Keep bushes from growing more than 5 - 6 feet tall for most prolific fruiting.

Flower Season: White, pink to dark purple flowers to 3/8 inch long. Blueberries flower in February and March.

Fruit: Ripen May to June.

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amberroses(10a)

I only have one blueberry bush, Sunshine Blue. I haven't ever sprayed it and it hasn't ever had any fungus or bug problems. It is planted in a shallow pot. I had some trouble finding what to use for potting soil, but in the end I just used peat moss mixed with pine bark. It seems to do ok. Once in a while I toss some sulfur in the pot and use an acid fertilizer. It is going into its 3rd year now. It had a nice crop of berries for its size last year, but I didn't get to them before the birds. This year I will cover it with a net.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2010 at 9:49PM
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sharon_9_fl(z9 FL)

I have had close to zero luck with blueberries in FL. I did all the same things as produced big plants loaded with berries up north. My plants looked good for a few months, and then just gradually faded away. I talked to people who were successful growing blueberries here, and they all grew them in pots.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2010 at 11:05PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Therealdeal,

Blueberries are one of my favorite things in this world, I have 70 bushes or so and in many varieties. Some of the advice in that handout you got is good but very shallow and some IMHO is just wrong. Let me lay out a few easy steps that if followed will guarantee success. 3 golden rules........

1.

Buy a bale of peat moss and find some pine bark fines. If you can't find the fines you can use regular pinebark and run it over in your driveway until it is fine......or some stores like Walmart and Lowes sell soil conditioner and if you read the ingredients you will find it is mostly finely ground pine bark.

2.

Don't ignore #1 it is the most important thing you can do to ensure success.......mix it 75% pine fines and 25% peat, even a 50-50 mix is fine. If you want to you can mix some of your native soil in to the peat pine mix but there is no need to.

Dig a big hole, not deep just wide. If the plant is in say a 1 gallon pot try to aim for a hole as wide as a normal computer monitor and fill that hole with the mix. The hole only needs to be 6-10 inches deep as we are going to plant the BB above the level of the native soil. Make sure the peat is saturated with water. Fill the planting hole with the mix and place the plant so that 1/4 to 1/2 of the root ball is above the level of the native soil and pour the mix around the plant until the mix is mounded up and even with the top of the BB root ball. The peat/bark mound you planted in to is basically a BB plant nursery and it will baby the plant as it gets use to it's new home and grows stronger. So now you have your BB plant in the "ground" and it is a few inches above the rest of the soil. Now use the pine needles and oak leaves to bring the surrounding soil up to the height of the mound you created. What you are doing is making future soil for the BB plant to expand it's roots in to. The oak leaves are not acidic enough so buy some Tiger 90 sulphur ($10 for a 50 lb bag) and apply say a cup or 2 evenly applied around the plant where the leaves/mulch start, no need to place it near the plant as the peat/pine bark is the right PH. Apply another cup or 2 of that sulphur in 6 months and 6 months later take a soil sample of that surrounding area and get it tested by your county extension agent. You can of course fill the bed with the peat / pine mix which is even better just much much more expensive.

The hand outs fertilizer recommendation is a bit screwy IMHO........also do not listen to the articles that say not to fertilize the first year. If the plant is planted in the growing season wait a month then use Mir acid...they changed the name, think now it is called Miracle grow camelia formula??? Don't follow the application rate which is 1 TBL per gallon instead after the first month use 1/2 tsp per gallon and after that monthly use 1 tsp per gallon for the first year. After the first year you can use the 1 Tbl per gallon monthly. I prefer the Miracle grow acid for young plants, when the plants mature I use 12-4-8 granular as it is much cheaper at $12 per 50lb bag. I fertilize monthly mid Feb through mid October.

3.

The water here in Florida you will use for the bushes is most likely alkaline from the tap and probably quite alkaline.....for young plants I mix battery acid which is sulfuric acid with the water to make the PH lower, I aim for a PH of 6 which is low enough combined with the peat pine mix and I keep the young plants very very moist the first few weeks but mixing fresh battery acid with water can be dangerous so not recommending anyone do so. Since the water you will be using is a higher PH you do not want to keep the new plants wet....just lightly moist. The reason is that when you add that high PH water to the plant the peat pine mix will lower the waters PH to an acceptable level but it can only buffer/lower the PH of so much water so if you water that bush daily you will be harming it. Don't water it just because.....check the soil and make sure it needs water but the soil most remain at all times at least moist. The higher your native waters PH is the more important this is. There is more to PH control than just the soil. That is why the often repeated use oak leaves is misleading. If you live in a area with neutral water or acidic water the oak leaves would be perfect......or if you lived in a area with acidic native soil. We are in Florida where we have neutral to just slightly acid soil and a high PH water so you HAVE TO follow all 3 golden rules. I sure hope all that made sense as it is very very important.

No need to prune the plants the first couple years after that follow the if it does not grow up chop it off rule. Because we have such a long growing season in Florida the producing age bushes greatly benefit from a pruning in the summer immediately after they are done fruiting. This pruning coupled with your monthly fertilizing will cause the plants to make an extra flush of growth. I know it seems odd that pruning will make the plant bigger but it will. When you prune off say 6 inches off the cane tips they will flush and grow say 12 inches and at the same time create side shoots and those will be producing fruit for you the following spring.

I have no idea why they recommend the fungicide, I never use it. Also have no idea why they recommend the pesticide...my guess is they are trying to sell pesticide and fungicide lol. The plants are pretty bug proof, the bugs seem to prefer other plants. The tussock caterpillars are about all that give me trouble and that is just for a couple weeks in the spring and I just dust with BT for them and most years that is not even needed.

Some things to watch for.......branches where all the leaves suddenly turn brown and die but stay on the plant, it is stem blight.

If you get tiny red spots, looks like the leaves were sprinkled with paprika......it is not a disease but a sign the plant is unhappy and needs more nitrogen.

I know this is probably more than any of you wanted to know lol but I love BB plants.....and they are so easy to grow but tend to give people such a fit growing them. If you follow the 3 rules I stated I promise you they will flourish. For those that have tried BB and failed and want to try again the newish cultivar Sunshine blue is the way to go......those plants are TOUGH, fast growing and very forgiving of PH and mistreatment. They have a couple drawbacks as well but overall they are quite hard to kill.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 10:45AM
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sharon_9_fl(z9 FL)

Wow! Thank you so much.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 11:17AM
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loufloralcityz9

Bamboo,

I knew you would do a much better job of explaining how to grow BB's so I hung back and let you handle it. I cannot see anything you missed and I agree wholeheartedly. I use the same mixtures but in my pots. I grow the plants in pots. I never have used battery acid, I use Miracid, now called by many different names on different size boxes (I personally counted nine differently labeled boxes but most have the same blueish box, Each size box has the different name) go figure.
Sunshine Blue is very easy to grow and hard to kill and makes a great tasting fruit, I broke an inch and a half long little branch off while picking fruit, so I just crammed it into the dirt, to my amazement it's still alive and growing. I recommend anybody wanting to grow blueberry start with that one. One more thing that I can add to Bamboo's post is get a rain barrel and use that water for your pots, blueberries love rain water especially if you grow in pots.

Lou

    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 3:44PM
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happy_fl_gardener

Bamboo -- I would like to know more about the use of battery acid. I have house water with a pH of 7.6 and a well for irrigation with a pH of 7.8. I use a lot of compost in my vegetable garden which causes my soil there to jump up to a pH of around 8. So, I've been thinking that I would like to lower the pH of my water in buckets used for fertilizing. I understand that vinegar will promote blooms which I don't want to do with most of my winter veggies. What are your thoughts?

I have 3 dozen blueberry plants that are about 2 years old. I planted them very much like you recommend. I have been using sulfur to keep their pH down. For granular fertilizer I use Sunniland's 16-4-8 acid/iron formulation - which is working very well. (I wish that they made it in a 12-4-8.)

Christine

    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 7:04PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

As Lou said a rain barrel is a great idea, rain is pretty much neutral but that is much better than our tap water.

I should have said you do not have to use the oak leaves and pine needles. Any rotted organics will work and as long as you use the sulphur to reduce the PH to an aceptable level. Also save your coffee grounds for the plants as the grounds are PH 5 and the plants will love them.

Christine,

As long as you are careful with the battery acid it is easy to work with. Just remember always add acid to water, never water to acid. Honestly even if the acid gets on the skin..it burns and you will be motivated to very quickly wash it off but will cause almost no damage if it is removed quickly. Battery acid is only a 30% concentration of Sulfuric acid and I would not try to get the higher concentration acid as they are bad news and can seriously hurt a person. If you get the battery acid in your eyes though it is very bad.....I always wear googles when adding it and measuring it.

You could certainly use the sulfuric acid to lower the PH.......just know I have never used it on the veggies but I doubt it would cause any problems. Just do not use Hydrochloric acid (Muriatic acid) as it turns to salt in the soil. You can get the battery acid at any auto parts store and is very very cheap.....like $4 a pint which will last a long time. You will need PH test strips to work out how much acid is needed to lower the PH to the level you desire. You will have a hard time using buckets for this as it will take very little acid to drop the PH of 5 gallons of water. I use the bucket of my front end loader and I am not sure how many gallons it holds. I would suggest a 35 gallon plastic trash can. Fill the can half full and add 1/2 tsp of the battery acid and then fill the can up and test the PH..as you can see it takes very little acid to dramatically lower the PH as the battery acid is PH 0. It is simple to work out how much you need just with trial and error and once you have the amount down you are set.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 10:39PM
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therealdeal

bamboo_rabbit, thanks very much. I really appreciate it. I love all the info. I was plannig on growing in containers, so do you rec. anything different?

loufloralcityz9, any issues growing yours in containers?

Also, what are the drawbacks fo the sunshine blue?

thanks again

    Bookmark   October 10, 2010 at 11:19PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Therealdeal,

Container growing BB is even easier. The plants don't grow quite as large or produce quite as much in containers but isn't that big of a difference. The commercial growers that grow in containers tend to just use pine bark but they do not use the pine fines. The mill they use is called medium fine which basically is 1/2-1 inch wide pieces of pine bark. You could certainly add some peat also if you want to. In containers you have to watch the water more closely as BB hate to dry out. You do not need to apply as much sulphur or as often in containers but eventually you will have to especially when the plants reach their final large size pot. Lou will be able to help you out more on the details.

Here is a pic I took early this spring (before leaf out) that will show you how nice BB can be in pots. Those pots are half of the food grade blue barrels, 25 gallons and the plants are 5-6 feet tall.

I probably should have said the Sunshine blues have draw backs for me. The fruit tastes quite good but the dang berries turn blue about 2 weeks before they are actually truly ripe. The fruit ripens over a long period of time and when you combine those 2 traits they are to me a bit annoying as it takes a lot longer to pick those bushes as you don't want to pick the blue but unripe fruit. On most BB bushes the fruit turns blue a few days before the fruit is dead ripe BUT even if picked at that stage they are still very good, all the BB in the grocery stores have been picked at that stage so most people never know just how good BB can be as they have never eaten a truly ripe berry. All that said it did not stop me from planting 9 more of the Sunshineblues, and in fact they got a place of honor as part of the landscaping in front of the house. The first year in the ground the new Sunshine blues have more than tripled in size. At this point in the year most BB plants are starting to look ragged as they head in to dormancy, though I have a bunch of goofy BB that have decided to bloom and now have fruit on them. The leaves look a bit sad on most bushes, some people their bushes have probably already started dropping their leaves even.....the remaining leaves will have some red spots on them....not the Sunshines as they are still bright and green and look perfect. They have a spreading open growth habit which makes them ideal for growing around homes for decoration, landscape plantings....just don't put them too close to the foundation as the cement is very alkaline and they won't like that.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2010 at 8:23AM
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loufloralcityz9

Therealdeal,

I have to grow blueberries in containers to keep peace at home. The birds were getting to them when they were outdoors and were pooping purplish-blue globs on the wife's white car. So I potted them up and move them inside the screen-greenhouse after they flower. They are put back outdoors again after they are picked clean. Moving pots back and forth has kept my number of plants down to a manageable level.

I have been growing the Sunshine Blue for four or five years now and haven't had any problems with it at all. Sunshine Blue was the first blueberry plant I started with, I've since added other varieties. I'm limited by room in the screen-greenhouse as to how many blueberry plants I can have at the moment but will be making an outdoor cage enclosure for them. Once I see if the cage works at keeping the birds & critters out I will then plant lots more. If you use Bamboo-rabbit's growing mixture in your pots and fertilize regularly with Miracid, you'll have blueberries no question about it. Don't mess with battery acid when you first start out, use the Miracid, it's much safer. The PH value of battery acid is somewhere between 1 & 3 normally, and is used by large growers to offset prices of supplies. Bamboo-rabbit has quickly become a large grower. Rain water is slightly acidic (acid rain) by combining with factory sulfur emissons that is in the air. Using captured rain water (stored in rain barrels) does not diminish the acid content of the garden soils such as our alkaline tap water does and the plants love it.

Lou

    Bookmark   October 11, 2010 at 12:35PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Lou,

To be clear those in the barrels are not mine:) Just a person I know (bought some plants from) manages the fields where that picture was taken. I only have 70 or so plants....he has 1000's. They are transitioning from container grown to ground grown....in fact if you look at the background of the pic I posted you will see those plants are all in the ground.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2010 at 12:53PM
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loufloralcityz9

Bamboo-rabbit,

I had figured it out that it wasn't your BB patch because if you had made it that size on your plot of land half of those BB plants would be in the lake :)

My plants have to stay small so I can move them in and out of the screen-greenhouse. I'm getting too old to keep moving them back and forth and want to get them outdoors permanently. Seven gallon size is my BB pot sizes, the 15 gallon pots are too dang heavy for me to move. I bought the clamp on forks for my loader bucket and catch the lips of the 15 gallon pots with my trees to move them around.
Lou

    Bookmark   October 11, 2010 at 1:16PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Lou,

How old of BB bushs do you have in the 7 gallon pots? I can't say I blame you for not wanting to move all those pots.it must be quite a chore but it does allow you to grow things I can't.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2010 at 3:57PM
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loufloralcityz9

Bamboo, I do not have all that many BB plants (around 10 but all different types) the 4 or 5 year old is in the 7 gallon but it's too dang hard for me to move around. I've resigned to waiting until I can grow them outdoors before I buy any huge plants. Right now I'm growing little ones up in anticipation of outdoor planting later. The little plants I get for cheap here and there on line and I propagate cuttings. When I get my BB area built I will go get the plants at the place you recommended. I want to build a walk in cage that I don't have to stoop over to walk around in. The critters around here tear up everything outdoors. I have a post hole augur for my tractor 3 point so putting in the 4X4 posts should go easy once I get it leveled and marked out. Right now I'm pulling stumps as I clear more trees.
There are a lot of days my body just doesn't want to go out and do any work.
Lou

    Bookmark   October 11, 2010 at 5:06PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Lou,

I understand completely. When we retired to Florida and bought this place I knew it was going to be a project. The house was beautiful but the lady that had it built just carved out a spot in the jungle not much bigger than the house, she was a bit of a recluse. I have been taming the land the last 6 years and think I finally have all the trees down that I intend to remove and the brush and grapvines gone. Like you I have a tractor but no 3 point post hole digger...would come in handy as that is this weeks project...posts and trellis for the Natchez blackberries and the bare root Kiowa I will pick up this winter. Not that bad really just 12 posts but still a bit of work with a post hole digger. From what you have said I am guessing I am probably close to 30 years your junior (I'm 45) so I am very impressed how ambitious your planting projects are.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2010 at 6:17PM
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loufloralcityz9

Bamboo, does your tractor have a 3 point cat one and PTO?

Lou

    Bookmark   October 11, 2010 at 8:04PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Lou,

Oh yeah Cat 1 3 point PTO and FEL.....I have a back blade, 4 foot bush hog and 5 foot finish mower.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2010 at 9:40PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Lou,

Oh yeah Cat 1 3 point PTO and FEL.....I have a back blade, 4 foot bush hog and 5 foot finish mower.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2010 at 9:41PM
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loufloralcityz9

I can run that post hole digger over to you if you would like to use it to bore your holes. I think I have the 6 inch auger. I have to go into Inverness to get another load of MG & black cow. I also need to get a new battery for my truck so the trip passing by your place to Inverness is mandatory and not out of my way.

Lou

    Bookmark   October 11, 2010 at 9:59PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

That is ok Lou, it is easy digging but I appreciate the offer. If you would like to stop by you are more than welcome, could give you some fresh grouper, have frozen vacuum packed as well. Where in Inverness do you get the MG and black cow, Lowes?

    Bookmark   October 11, 2010 at 10:45PM
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therealdeal

Thanks again for all the info. Much appreicated.

Bamboo, does your buddy still have those BB he is getting rid of from your other post?

    Bookmark   October 11, 2010 at 10:54PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Therealdeal,

Yes he still has a few hundred left but the ones he was willing to sell cheap, $10 for a 8 year old mature bush in a 25 gallon pot are all gone. The few hundred he has left he wants $35 each for......granted they are much nicer plants.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2010 at 11:01PM
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loufloralcityz9

I get it at Lowes and/or Walmart, my last truck load for MG & Black Cow I went to the Brooksville Lowes. I go to either Inverness or Brooksville.
That's one thing about Florida... it sure is easy digging, up in New Hampshire (the granite state) sometimes took two or three days to dig one post hole because of the boulders under the surface.
Lou

    Bookmark   October 11, 2010 at 11:04PM
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michelle219

I am new to growing BB and bought 3 kinds (Southern Belle, Emerald & Jubilee) so that cross pollination could occur. I am also planning to grow them in pots. Should I put each one in a different pot with the pots side by side or all in one pot? I know that sounds like a silly question but I am really unsure and want to do the best thing for my BB.
Thanks in advance for any advice.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2010 at 5:05PM
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loufloralcityz9

Michelle,

Plant each in their own pot, they need the space to grow. I usually keep increasing the size of the pots as they grow and I stop at 7 gallon size because I find them hard to move if bigger. You can space them in a row or in a circle.... your choice. I'd keep them fairly close together (a foot or two apart depending the plant/pot size).

Lou

    Bookmark   October 15, 2010 at 5:34PM
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loufloralcityz9

Michelle,
I forgot to add, when growing BB's in pots you have to keep an eye on them so they NEVER dry out, BB plants will not tolerate drying out and will die quickly, but by the same token, do not place the pots in anything that will hold water, they are not fish. Good drainage, watering often, a close watch on keeping between 4.5 and 5.0 PH and regular feedings and your BB plants will flourish.
Lou

    Bookmark   October 15, 2010 at 6:14PM
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bluesky7

I'm a blueberry lover, too. :-)

I have three Sunshine Blues and have been advised by Lou to get a Misty Blue 'cause they compliment the other variety.

Anyone in zone 10 (don't think I've heard of folks in zone 9 having this pest) having trouble with these small white weevil or beetle type bugs? I keep shaking them of the plants and stepping on them. I tried Neem and it helps some but not for long. Any other organic pesticide suggestions?

Thanks,

Sheri

    Bookmark   October 17, 2010 at 1:43AM
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loufloralcityz9

Sheri,
Perhaps I wasn't clear on the BB plant name. The Misty BB plant is sometimes called 'Misty Blue' by some sellers on their mail order site. Misty & Misty Blue are the same BB plant. I included the both names used so you could find it easier.

I use diatomaceous earth that has been finely ground into a talcum powder. I use a food grade type because my kitty's wander around in my screen-greenhouse and I don't want to harm them. I apply it with a plant duster. I have a bellows type and a pump type garden duster. I dust the top and bottom of the leaves. This seems to take care of any pests that attack any of my plants including white fly and aphids.

Lou

    Bookmark   October 17, 2010 at 6:11AM
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bluesky7

Thanks, Lou. I suppose I can get the diatomaceous earth at a big box store (maybe) or more likely, a private plant nursery.

Do you think Neem Oil will work for the beetles? I've tried it already with so-so results, but I'm wondering if you've had any experience with it.

Sheri

    Bookmark   October 17, 2010 at 3:25PM
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loufloralcityz9

Sheri,
I have no experience with Neem Oil. I actually don't use much of anything else because I grow inside my greenhouses and screen-greenhouse. The BB plants were the only thing I put outdoors other than my orchard trees. 20 mule team borax sprinkled lightly on the greenhouse floors and diatomaceous earth on the plant leaves is the extent of my precautions. Mostly the bugs spread the plant diseases and I try to keep bugs out. I probably will start having all the problems when I grow outdoors next spring.

Misty and Misty Blue are the same BB plant, just some of the online merchants used the two different names for the same plant when they listed them online.
Lou

    Bookmark   October 17, 2010 at 4:48PM
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michelle219

Lou,
Thank you for all your tips, there are very helpful. I did put them in separate pots and have kept them moist (but not drowning). I am not 100% sure what pH the soil has but I do have new light green growth and they all seem happy. I did use an organic soil that had Canadian moss in it (I read somewhere that Canadian moss was better...?)...but the bag didn't indicate what the pH was.
My apologies for not replying sooner to acknowledge your reply and to thank you but I am also new to this site and hadn't realized you replied.

Michelle

    Bookmark   October 20, 2010 at 4:24PM
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hopsalot

Bamboo rabbit,
Thanks for the great info. Just wondering where you get the Tiger 90 sulfur? I'm in Homosassa and the local feed stores want about $60 for a 50# bag of soil sulfur. Also, any good sources for sunshine blues? Thanks, again.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2010 at 8:32PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Hopsalot,

Come spring Lowes will probably have the Sunshine blues, that is where I got mine. As a rule I buy from the commercial growers but they don't mess with the sunshines.

Where I get the Tiger 90 is Helena chemical. I get all my fertilizer from them as well as the prices and quality can't be beat. $12 for a 50lb bag of 10-10-10 or $10 for a 50lb bag of the Tiger 90. The down side is the closest Helena plant to us is in Dade City.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2010 at 10:31PM
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ritaweeda

OK, we bought 4 bushes at Lowes in Brooksville recently, they were on sale. Having picked blueberries in this area for the last 5 years, I know enough that they fruit right around May. So why are these bushes flowering now? And is this a problem? Since we will probably get frost any time now, will it damage them for next Spring? This may be a dumb question for you experts but I haven't a clue.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2010 at 6:52AM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Rita,

I picked a couple cups of blue berries yesterday......it happens. BB in pots tend to bloom at odd times anyway. I would pick the blooms off as plants that young should be growing not blooming. I would remove the blooms this spring as well. The frost won't hurt the BB plants but will kill the blooms.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2010 at 7:41AM
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loufloralcityz9

Rita,

The low chill varieties of blueberry plants will often flower in the fall having met their low chill requirements. My blueberry bushes will make a few flowers almost every year at this time. Some years I've removed the flowers and some years I didn't and doesn't seem to make much difference in the spring crop either way. It's the price we pay for living on this alien planet called Florida.

Lou

    Bookmark   December 1, 2010 at 8:19AM
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loufloralcityz9

ADDENDUM;
I agree with Bamboo, on new young blueberry plants always remove the flowers the first year so they can concentrate their strength on growth.

Lou

    Bookmark   December 1, 2010 at 8:27AM
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ritaweeda

Thanks for the great info, although DH ain't gonna like me decapitating next year's crop, I'll blame it all on you experts, that's the ticket!

    Bookmark   December 1, 2010 at 8:47AM
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joeworm

bamboo,

"mix it 75% pine fines and 25% peat"

what size are the pine fines?
can i use pine fine "dust" instead of peat?
will this mix work in a container?

thanks

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 9:01AM
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j-grow

i built a raised be in early spring and did all pete and pine mulch as decribed and bought tiny one gallon emerald and windsor ( i think?> ) they may have been jewels i cant remember.....anyway they did fantastic all year and about trippled in size and were very very happy. i fertilized very lightly about every 8 weeks with an acid lovers fert.....they are watered daily by a timered irrigation system. in the last few weeks they have lost most of their leaves and look barron......they are not dead and have plenty of little buds everywhere but definately look barron? is this normal and ok......i thought they were supposed to be ever green?

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 10:34AM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Joe,

I missed your question, sorry. The pine size pieces are up to about 1/2". They sell them at Walmart in a purple bag just called pine mulch. Yes you can use just pine fines with no peat. The commercial folks use no peat due to cost. It is nice to add something to tighten up the pore space.used coffee grounds or even a bit of sand on top and watered in.

J-grow,

Some varieties here in Florida are evergreen and some are not. I like my plants to keep their leaves until Christmas but have one variety that is already bare. The little round fat buds will be your flower buds in a couple months.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 11:06AM
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j-grow

thank you......should i continue watering daily this time of year or cut back to every other day?

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 1:12PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

I would cut back.....no leaves means not much need for water. You still don't want the pots to dry out of course. How big of pots are they in?

    Bookmark   December 23, 2012 at 2:26PM
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j-grow

they are in a 35' x 5' raised bed

    Bookmark   December 24, 2012 at 8:41AM
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HydroPapa

Head spinning reading all of this good info. When and where would you go to purchase a couple (say maybe 3) BB plants to grow in containers on my screened in lanai?
I live in Land O Lakes, there are BB farms near here is that a source anyone would suggest for plants?
Starting gardening now (at 60); I love BB's and would like to give them a try.
The heat right now on the lanai is already searing! I guess I should wait to buy & plant?
Thoughts welcome.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2013 at 6:48PM
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loufloralcityz9

HydroPapa,
I first grew my BB plants in my pool screen cage in pots so I know you can grow them in your lanai. I'm not sure the BB farms near you will sell any plants but It don't hurt to ask. I have found them in all sorts of places, online, BB farms, big box stores, etc.

I now grow them outdoors in the 55 gallon blue barrels cut in half. I now have over 60 plants. I just finished putting in another 12 barrels sunk into the ground.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 8:36AM
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Michael AKA Leekle2ManE - Zone 9a - Lady Lake

That's a nice setup there, Lou. I've been thinking of doing something similar with my tomato buckets. Now I'm sure I'm going to do it. I'm sure my wife 'thanks' you as well for the holes I am about to dig this weekend...

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 9:06AM
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HydroPapa

@loufloralcityz9 Thanks for your response. I am going to give them (BB's) a try. I will probably keep them inside the lanai to start with (because the crows around here are as thick as thieves, not to mention deer, rabbits, and assorted 4 legged crawlers).
There are some available in Home Depot (small pot) for $3.98 a plant. I might buy a few to try both soil in containers and hydroponically in a drip fed bucket...

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 7:57PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Hydro,

Be careful of the plants at Lowes or Home depot. Normally the 1 gallon pots are fine but sometimes they have smaller pots and those are northern blueberries that won't fruit here. Why they do that I have no idea.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 10:06PM
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Michael AKA Leekle2ManE - Zone 9a - Lady Lake

And definitely steer clear of the bare-root bagged ones. While I have not done the bare-root blueberries, my wife got the bare-root grapes, raspberries and blackberries, none of which were labeled with their variety. Of the three we were only able to enjoy fruit from the raspberries last year, the other two are still trying to get to fruit bearing size. I think it will be a few years before we get to enjoy the grapes.

So if you get the bare-root bagged offerings, you could be waiting a long time before you get to enjoy the blueberries. And if you're anything like my wife, then anything longer than 'now' is just too long to wait. :)

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 7:05AM
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HydroPapa

Home depot had them in 1 gallon pots; think I'll give them a try:)

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 7:11AM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Leekle,

It is very likely the grapes are a northern type bunch grape and if so they will likely dies from Pierces disease.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 9:07AM
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Michael AKA Leekle2ManE - Zone 9a - Lady Lake

It's possible on both counts. Personally I'm not too worried about it. I love me some fresh grapes, but this is something I would have waited until we have our own land to grow them rather than while we're renting a lot. After seeing vines up north in Michigan, it's only the really big ones that really produce enough to make it worth it. Judging from the amount of growth we got last year, I imagine by the time this one gets large enough, we'll be about ready to move. At which point, I would either have to leave it here or cut it back so much that I would essentially be starting over.

That said, I don't want to hijack this thread away from blueberries, so I'm not going to pursue any more info regarding the grapes here.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 2:35PM
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NKUSigEp(6)

Post moved.

This post was edited by NKUSigEp on Thu, Sep 26, 13 at 20:07

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 8:05PM
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Michael AKA Leekle2ManE - Zone 9a - Lady Lake

Concerning pruning. Last night I was reading through various articles when I stumbled upon one from BH&G, "What to prune and when." In this article, they mentioned pruning Blueberries and that you should "prune stems older than 3 years to the ground." Instead of over 3 years, I think I would substitute BR's recommendation of 'if doesn't grow up, cut it'. But I admit that I wasn't expecting to some day cut the stems all the way back to the ground. When I initially planted my shrubs, I pruned them back to four stems per shrub and had it in my head that those four would be all I would allow to grow. But now it seems that come next year, if they start sending up new stems, I should let them go. Is this correct?

    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 12:37PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Leeekle,

Some varieties of BB want more stems and some less. The recommendation of older than 3 years cut it to the ground is a bit odd. I would say more like 5 years but the bush will tell you when that main cane needs removed....it just won't look as robust and production will suffer. When you do cut that main it will trigger the plant to produce more stems but most bushes do that anyway most years.

Far as how many stems I allow 6-7 to grow if the plant wants to do that.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 7:19AM
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Michael AKA Leekle2ManE - Zone 9a - Lady Lake

I will have to keep that in mind for the future, thanks.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2013 at 7:56AM
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Michael AKA Leekle2ManE - Zone 9a - Lady Lake

Okay, another question for the guru(s). While out taking notes on the yard today, I noticed my Jewel had two flowers opening on it and other buds getting ready to pop open. The Emerald doesn't look like its far behind either with some rather swollen buds. I didn't think we had seen enough chill hours for this to be happening, but it is. And February, the month of Cold Snaps is coming. I remember last year BR set up a mister to keep his plants wet/frozen to avoid frost damage and I remember the physics logic behind it. I just want to verify that I will need to do this in event of a freeze... or since I only have two bushes should I go with blankets and prayer?

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 5:15PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

That is up to you.......once the flowers open if it hits 28 degrees they are done. whatever you can do to keep it from hitting 28 is what matters. The fruit itself can get hurt even at 30. You are not alone my bushes are blooming as well. We do have a week of cold nights coming and that will help with the chill hours and to slow them down.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 5:38PM
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loufloralcityz9

With only two bushes put a stringer of C-7 Christmas lights on the ground around the base of each bush before you cover them with blankets. This should supply enough heat under the blankets to ward off the cold overnight. All you need is enough heat to keep the temperature above 28 as BR said.

My bushes are starting to bloom also and the bees were busy on them today.

Lou

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 6:57PM
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Michael AKA Leekle2ManE - Zone 9a - Lady Lake

Okay. Thanks guys. I'll dig through my bins, but I think all my lights are currently wrapped around my bananas and citrus trees. I will try the blanket route as I know the spray would end up hitting my firebush (already showing cold damage, but nothing surprising there) and my Firecracker plants (which have faired quite well for no protection at all). The spray would hit other plants as well, but most, if not all, are perennial and should bounce back. It has mostly been my few tropicals and the citrus I've been protecting. And now the impatient blueberries.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 9:34PM
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organic_elizabeth_b

This is an incredible amount of BB information!

The one note I didn't see, is what is the best time to plant BB in northern Florida (Daytona Beach area)?

Best,

Elizabeth

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 7:53PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Daytona would be just 30 or so miles north of me but the opposite coast. My favorite time to plant is November or December but anytime up through April. That is not to say you can't plant at other times but you have to be careful they do not dry out and thick mulch is your friend.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 9:07PM
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organic_elizabeth_b

Thank you B Rabbit! I'm going to try and get several in this season still then...

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 10:27AM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

No problem.....this thread is funny, when I posted to it in 2010 I had 70 bushes now over 200...ahh addiction.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 2:48PM
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pnbrown

We just bought five little BB plants, so it's lucky this thread was up.

I had forgotten about the relatively high ph of well-water or municipal water. We were thinking about planting the blueberries in a swale where we are going to drain gray water from the house the ph may go too high.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 5:30PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

PN,

If that gray water is from a washing machine it will be VERY high PH as detergents are quite alkaline......

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 7:22AM
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Michael AKA Leekle2ManE - Zone 9a - Lady Lake

Well, for better or worse, I gave my blueberries a dose of slow release 'azalea' ferilizer today (urea based). With the forecasted temps over the next couple weeks, there's no stopping the bushes from going into full-bloom. I will have to cross my fingers and get the blow dryer out if a cold snap comes through.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 6:58PM
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pnbrown

Yes I suspected greywater will be high, higher even than the groundwater.

We are going to put them where we can irrigate with rainwater only.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 8:11AM
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Michael AKA Leekle2ManE - Zone 9a - Lady Lake

Okay, got a golly gee whiz question:

If/when a person transplants a blueberry from one spot to another (in winter while they're dormant), should the following season be treated a a fresh planting? As in, remove flowers and berries to let the shrub focus on re-establishing itself? I have no intentions of moving my current shrubs, but if the situation ever calls for relocation I may want to get another shrub or two the prior year so I do not miss out.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 8:37AM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

It depends. If you are careful and get all the roots or almost all the roots you can stake the plant and let it produce no problem. If it is ripped from the ground and a lot of the root mass is lost it would be much better to remove the fruit buds. They really are not hard to remove and the roots are so wiry they tend to stay with the plant.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 5:46PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Bamboo said "They really are not hard to remove..."

I think you are referring to the shrubs/plants (not the fruit buds), right?

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 6:24PM
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Rosslimited(6a)

HI,
Just planted 2 BB in large pots on my balcony. I should have asked before I bought 3gal. plants. Is Jersey & Bluejay good pollinators foe each other?

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 1:11PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Love the yard,

Sorry..I meant to say not hard to move....not remove:)

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 5:18PM
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kitasei

I'm about to set out my first blueberry bushes on a sunny hillside that I just cleared of multiflora roses. Can I use landscape fabric to keep the weeds down and mulch with year old wood chips? Am looking for the lowest maintenance possible! Thanks.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 2:12AM
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fla-angie(10b)

Hey guys, can you please help me with this. I bought these blueberries from Gurneys and I transplanted them into 6 gal pots with 50% peat moss, 25% compost, 25% soil with pearlite added for aeration. They have been watered with rainwater. The only PH meter I have is one bought from a HD which mainly reads 7 most of the time.

I'm trying to post more pics but I'm not sure how.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 9:55PM
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ibarbidahl(9 (tampa-ish))

Read through the whole thread to get some good info on the care of them including ph info...

Looks like a combination of shock and over/underwatering. The PH makes a difference in the long haul but it shouldn't have affected it that quickly. You need to get the pH down and make sure it stays moist, not wet. Then cross your fingers it re-buds. From that picture I would have never guessed it to be a blueberry plant. :-(

Good luck.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 11:49AM
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fla-angie(10b)

Thanks ibarbidahl, The one in the picture is looking like its re-budding but still not doing well. The other one still isn't doing to well at all. I read somewhere that you can add vinegar to water to bring the PH down but haven't tried it yet.

Thanks for the input. :)

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 10:29AM
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