Ask a Question forum: Blueberries

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Wisconsin (Zone 5a)
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skits
Mar 12, 2018 10:47 AM CST
I'm trying to grow blueberries...very unsuccessfully. I have since found out I need at least two varieties. I think I had two varieties, but don't remember the first little guy (he tried hard to survive but I think he'll be dead when spring comes) and planted him with four new ones. They've all held on, but looked terrible all last summer. I did add coffee grounds and watered with some acid stuff, added pine needles. I have more plants coming in the spring in case I actually have five of the same. What else can I do to get my soil PH level correct? They are connected to my other raised bed, separated by at least a foot deep of soil. They say blueberries are easy to grow. Certainly not for me! I will have access to a lot of pine mulch this summer and plan to mulch them with that.

Also, they say I can grow them in pots. How would I overwinter them in zone 5?
Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Mar 12, 2018 4:45 PM CST
They are deep rooted. Need several feet. Probably 5 to 6 feet.

Your going to need to overwinter in ground with enough layers of straw to keep roots, and canes from freezing.
Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
Wisconsin (Zone 5a)
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skits
Mar 15, 2018 12:38 PM CST
I can try mulching them. I worry about critters having their way if the canes are buried, although they manage to chomp off my grafted Japanese maple every year without coverage. How do I overwinter blueberries in pots?
Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN, USA zon
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Hybridizer
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Leftwood
Mar 15, 2018 2:30 PM CST
Perhaps the rabbit-eye blueberries grown in the south are deep rooted, but blueberries hardy for zone 6 or colder are certainly NOT deep rooted. A foot of good soil that drains well is sufficient.

Pine needle mulch is a wonderful thing, but contrary to you may hear, it does not produce acid soil. Blueberries are self-fertile; you don't need two kinds of blueberries to get fruit or to grow plants. But planting two kinds that bloom at the same time will yield more fruit than just one kind.

We can't tell from your explanation if pH is the problem. Pale or yellowing leaves that are not limp and do not fall off would be a symptom. If you determine that high pH is the culprit, you will need to redo the soil bed. Trying to amend or apply chemicals or fertilizer from the surface usually does not work because it is only a temporary fix. If it does, you will need to repeat applications at least twice yearly, and forever.

To redo the soil to insure proper acidity, mix a 1:1 ration of sphagnum peat and whatever soil you have. The exact ratio and the pH of the original soil is not important, as the resulting pH of any close combination will be adequate for blueberries. They thrive in a wide pH range of acidic soils. Thereafter, you might add some ammonium sulfate or ground sulfur (elemental sulfur) every 3 or 4 years. Do not use Aluminum sulfate.
Wisconsin (Zone 5a)
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skits
Mar 17, 2018 1:15 PM CST
Thanks so much. Lots of info I needed! I think I can figure a way to redo the soil. The bed isn't very big.
Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN, USA zon
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Hybridizer
Seed Starter Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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Leftwood
Mar 17, 2018 7:40 PM CST
Also meant to clarify that adding the amonium sulfate or ground sulfur is something you can do in addition to the peat, NOT instead of it. Smiling
Wisconsin (Zone 5a)
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skits
May 2, 2018 3:47 PM CST
Well, I have the peat and I have the sulfate. My bed has four bushes in it already. They aren't leafing yet. I suspect at least one is dead. I want to add three more new bushes. If I amend the soil around and in between the existing bushes and then add the three new ones, will I be okay? I'll go do a scratch test on them first in case they are dead. Much as I want them alive, it would make amending the bed much easier if they were gone.....ok. Hours later. I mixed the peat moss in pretty well, planted the three new blueberries and sprinkled some of the sulfate for good measure.....we'll see.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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DaisyI
May 2, 2018 4:04 PM CST
I would have suggested you carefully dig up the Blueberry plants you already have and redo the whole bed. If they haven't leafed out yet, they won't notice you dug them up. But once they start growing, they will notice that the soil around them is not acidic enough to please them and it will be too late.

Make sure every bit of peat is fully hydrated as dry spots will burn the roots right off your plants.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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Wisconsin (Zone 5a)
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skits
May 2, 2018 4:20 PM CST
Why is starter mix always peat then? I did water them after I put the sulfate on them. Do they need a big dosing? I'm missing a hose and my watering thing has a broken nozzle. Going to be hard to spread water. (I'm ready to give up and grow a pear tree.)
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
May 2, 2018 5:32 PM CST
Starter mix has a lot of peat because peat is nutrient challenged and seeds come with their own fertilizer packs. As soon as your seedlings grow their secondary leaves, you need to fertilize them.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Webmaster: osnnv.org
Wisconsin (Zone 5a)
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skits
Jun 12, 2018 4:22 PM CST
Update on my blueberries. The two older ones look pretty good. The three new ones are maybes yet. I did mulch them with pine needles. And I've been watering them often. We'll see.

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