Ask a Question forum: pale leaves on some of my blueberry bushes.

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alexanbe
Aug 27, 2016 1:40 PM CST
THis summer some of my blueberry bushes are getting progressively paler in the leaves. I have kept the soil acidity correct, and fertilized them a little, but not sure what to do next. They look very anemic.
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
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dyzzypyxxy
Aug 27, 2016 3:53 PM CST
Hi Alex and welcome to garden.org Your blueberries are probably suffering from iron chlorosis. This may be due to the roots reaching out to some soil that is too high in pH for them. If you go to your local nursery (a real nursery, not a big box store) you can ask for a chelated iron product that will help correct the pale color on the plants for this year. Ammonium sulphate fertilizer will also help but only very temporarily and you really don't want your bushes putting on a whole lot of new growth this late in the season, unless you live in the deep South? (you could fill in your profile to include your location, and then it will appear in your posts)

But extensive amendment of the soil all around the blueberries extending out well past the reach of the branches is needed to keep soil pH from rising too high for these little acid lovers. Mulch the bushes each fall with a deep mulch of leaves, and then top dress each spring with a combination of compost and peat moss. Not just a shovel-full per bush, more like a whole wheelbarrow per bush will be needed this next year. Then keep up that good work to keep your blueberries healthy and productive. It's hard work to keep soil acidic enough for blueberries if your native soil is not acidic. The pH always tends to rise again.

I'm in the same boat here, planted blueberries in a big, raised bed that I thought I could keep acidified enough, but still . . those roots keep growing and the leaves are like litmus paper, indicating by their color that they're getting out into the alkaline soil.
Elaine

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Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Aug 27, 2016 8:45 PM CST
Welcome to NGA, @Alexanbe !

I agree with what Elaine said. I bought 5 blueberry plants a couple of years ago and stuck them in my garden, thinking it was a no-brainer that they would grow since blueberries grow wild all over the Michigan Upper Peninsula... unfortunately, when they "woke up" in the spring of 2015 the leaves were a very bright yellow color, which was obviously not a good thing! The plants I have are Northland, a half-high type that is a cross between the wild low-bush blueberries and the high-bush types, so I ended up moving them to large pots with a mixture of sphagnum peat, compost, Miracle Grow potting soil, and Perlite, plus the addition of some soil sulfur and greensand. After their somewhat traumatic start they are finally starting to look pretty good, and even produced a handful of berries this year -- maybe someday I'll get enough for a pie?

It would be very helpful for us to know the general area where you are growing these plants, and also how you are growing them (in ground, raised beds, containers?). If they look anemic -- as Elaine said, the pH of the soil the roots are accessing is too high.

I'm thinking I'll give mine one more year and if they are still having problems I'm going to devote my energy to something that will not require this much effort.
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Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Aug 28, 2016 11:15 AM CST
Welcome! 😎😎😎
Dont throw away your coffee grounds!πŸ™‰
Put em around your berries or any acid loving plant. Free acid !
😎😎😎 nodding
Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
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Leftwood
Aug 28, 2016 11:18 AM CST
Try a foliar application of a product like this "Liquid Iron" that also contains micro nutrients that can cause chlorosis (iron, copper, manganese, magnesium, zinc). If it works, then you know it is a soil problem. Likely pH, but not necessarily: soil might also be too heavy or waterlogged. If it doesn't work, than it proves nothing, since foliage at this time of year may not absorb the nutrients sufficiently.
Thumb of 2016-08-28/Leftwood/3203ac

Remember any changes you do to a soil is never permanent, and need to be maintained. Watering with municipal water (high pH) or most well water (since most are also high pH) will have an on going effect of raising pH.

You mention that some of your blueberries are yellow. If this is true, than it is the most telling clue to your problem. If some parts of certain plants are yellow, that a different clue. Think of ALL the things that a different about them, compared to healthy plants. (For instance, did you test the soil of healthy versus non-healthy plants?) It may not be just one variable causing the problem. The typical individual becomes fixated on one solution, and ignores the other possibilities. Don't be that person. Thumbs up



Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Aug 28, 2016 11:48 AM CST
It would help to see a picture of an affected plant. Whether the yellowing is confined to the areas between the veins or all over the leaf, and whether it is on the oldest or youngest leaves, indicates what nutrient may be the problem if it is nutritional.

Philip, unfortunately coffee grounds aren't necessarily acidic, it varies.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Aug 28, 2016 6:45 PM CST
I agree with Sue about the coffee grounds; they won't hurt anything, but there isn't that much acid in them.

Also definitely agree about a photo being helpful.
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