The Q&A Archives: Rejuvenating Deficient Blueberry Bushes

Question: I have some very young (under 5 years) blueberry bushes that were planted prior to our owning this property. They are all sickly yellow and are trying valiantly to put out leaves. Obviously, the soil is NOT acid enough--but how do I save them without uprooting them? Or can that not be done? My thought was to rake back all the mulch (they at least got that part right) and put a few inches of peat down and then recover them, but a gardening friend suggested sulfur, or a liquid fertilizer/acidifier forthem. I didn't think fertilizing them was such a hot idea, but am open to suggestions! Thank you! Joanna Jones State College, PA

Answer: You are headed in the right direction. It sounds like your plants are suffering from iron deficiency which can be a result of a too-high pH. I would recommend applying chelated iron to take care of the deficiency, and using sulfur each spring (beginning this year) at a rate of 1 oz. per plant to lower the pH. Water both of these in. Fertilizer in the form of well-rotted compost scratched lightly in around the plants is a good idea in the spring too. Adding peat or clean sawdust or shavings will aid in acidifying the soil and in weed control. Blueberries are shallow rooted and need consistent water.

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