The Q&A Archives: Blueberry Culture

Question: I "inherited" some blueberry bushes last year. I tilled the soil thoroughly, and mixed balanced fertilizer with peat moss and soil when I planted. The leaves turned coppery brown late in the summer. I snapped a twig, and it was still green, so Iam assuming that the plants can be saved.

Answer: Sounds as though you've tried to give your plants all the right stuff. Blueberries like a really acidic soil (in the range of 4.5 to 4.8). The best thing you can do at this point is have your soil tested so you know what you're working with. If you need to lower the pH, elemental sulfur or aluminum sulphate will do the trick. The exact amounts will have to be determined once you know what your soil's pH is now.<br><br>The coppery color of the leaves is not a good sign, and indicates the plants are stressed. Nutrients may be bound up in the soil and unavailable to the plants, or the vascular system has been compromised in some way, and the plant is unable to benefit from the fertilizer you have applied. I wouldn't feed them any more until they start growing again. You can prune the plants in early spring to stimulate new growth and to get rid of the twiggy wood (that will not bear fruit). In the meantime, get a soil pH test and mark on the form that you want to know specifically how much sulfur to apply to lower the pH to the desired range. Good luck with your project!

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