Blueberries not only look good they also do good to your body. Blueberry plants can be planted in North America as they are native.
It takes a good time(6 years) for this plant to give out fruits. You don’t want anything bad happening with such an exquisite tree.
But it does face some issues. Let’s look at the problems faced by Blueberry plants and discuss some ideas to fix those issues.
Why is my Blueberry Plant Dying?
Blueberry bushes die mainly when you overwater or overfeed the plant. Diseases like Blueberry Stem Blight, Botrytis, or Blueberry Scorch virus kill the plant. Nutrition Deficiency (Phosphorous, Magnesium, or Iron) may kill the plant as well. Other pests or insects may also harm the plant to a great extent.
Caring well for the plant goes a long way to avoid running into many such issues. Water the plant abundantly and look for any disease signs before the disease establishes itself in the plant.
Blueberry leaves going brown
Are your Blueberry plant’s leaves going brown? This can happen due to many reasons. Let’s look at each one of them.
It can happen due to overfeeding the soil with fertilizer. In this situation, the leaves look like they got burnt. I always advise fertilizing the soil as little as possible.
Don’t ever think that adding more makes your plant healthier. Just add fertilizer when the plant needs it.
Did you recently fertilize the soil where the bush is? Or did it rain recently? Rain sometimes washes fertilizer from neighboring plants.
Overfeeding causes browning of the leaf margins. Such browning moves inwards to the center of the leaf. Maybe it’s not you, Nursery guys may have overfed the plant. Did you buy the plant recently?
Flood the affected soil with as much water as it can hold for a week. This should get rid of the excess salts accumulated in the soil.
Blueberry plants thrive in well-drained soils, they don’t like waterlogged conditions. Make sure you water them just enough.
Overwatering can cause browning of the foliage too. The roots become anoxic if they sit in waterlogged soil for a long time.
The roots can’t absorb water/nutrients anymore. Lack of water shows itself in the leaves of the plant, they get burnt.
Overwatering is the root cause of Rootrot disease in plants. Blueberry plants like acidic and well-drained soil.
While we’re here let’s talk about making the soil acidic as it is what Blueberry plants need to thrive.
How can I make my soil more acidic for blueberries?
Make sure you’re giving your plant an acidic fertilizer. Check the pH of the soil first, you don’t want to treat a non-existing illness.
You can add sphagnum to the soil once a year to decrease the pH of the soil.
Are eggshells good for blueberries?
Eggshells can be added to soil to enhance it. Save your eggshells and add them to the soil around Blueberry bushes.
Eggshells are 100% Calcium Carbonate which is one of the main ingredients of agricultural lime. Thus they help decrease the pH and make the soil more acidic.
Sun-scorching is another possible cause of leaf browning. In Nurseries, the plants are grown in a controlled environment, you shouldn’t introduce them to harsh conditions right away.
Acclimate the plants to your conditions for a few days. If needed set up a shade net for the plant. This helps prevent sun burning in plants.
Tip: Add a layer of organic mulch onto the soil to lock-in the moisture.
Blueberry branches dying/Blueberry Stem Diseases
Do you see dead/dying branches on your Blueberry bushes? It could be due to many reasons. Let’s look at ’em one by one.
Blueberry Stem Blight
Stem blight is quite harmful and affects Blueberry plants too. This disease is caused by a fungus that enters the plant via wounds.
Once the plant is infected, the leaves become wilted and become brown. The fungus spreads downward to the base of the plant, killing it.
This infection is evidently seen in June i.e., a great number of infections are seen in early summer. The fungal spores spread via wind and rain.
You need to control this disease as early as possible as it may kill the plant. Spraying fungicides won’t do the plant any good.
- Cut off the affected parts as soon as you notice them.
- Choose cultivars that are resistant to the disease.
- Avoid wounding the bushes unnecessarily, as wounds invite this infection.
Blueberry Dead Branches
If the new foliage on your Blueberry bush is healthy and the old branches are dying, then cold damage is a possibility.
It can just be natural, older branches dying. Cut off the dead branches without leaving any stump behind.
Blueberry bush leaves turning yellow
Leaf yellowing is seen in a case of Chlorosis. Chlorosis is seen when the plant can’t absorb essential nutrients(like Iron).
When the soil pH becomes high, the plant can no longer absorb iron efficiently. Newly formed leaves thus lack Chlorophyll(Which has Fe in it).
To fix this you need to add iron chelate to the soil or as a foliar application. This application fixed the problem in a short amount of time.
Check the soil’s pH using a pH test kit. There’s another reason why Chlorosis may be seen i.e., Waterlogged conditions.
You want the soil pH to be below 5. After testing the pH fix the plant/soil accordingly.
Blueberry flowers turning brown
Are your Blueberry bush’s flowers turning brown? If this happens after it got pollinated then there’s nothing to worry about.
This is called Post-pollination browning and it’s completely natural. But if it happened before pollination, then there’s something wrong.
Tip: Pollinated flowers’ petals become brown, the rest of the flower and the stem looks normal. In case of a disease all of these become brown.
Botrytis Blossom Blight
Botrytis blossom blight is a common disease that affects Blueberries. This disease is caused by a fungus and it infects the plants via wounds.
The spores of this fungus are abundantly found in the blooming season. The flowers become brown in color.
You need to dispose of the infected plant parts as soon as you see them. This may help control the disease progress to an extent, but you need to do much more.
- Spray fungicides prior to/during extended cool wet periods. Such an action goes a long way in controlling Botrytis disease.
- Fungicides like Fenhexamid, Captan 50W, and Cyprodinil work wonders.
- Use a drip/soaker hose system if possible.
- Remove the weeds as soon as you see ’em.
Blossom browning is also seen when the temperatures fall below 23 F. Developing buds and blossoms are affected in this case.
Some cultivars are more resistant to frost damage than others.
Note: Sometimes viruses may cause browning of both leaves and blossoms. Such diseases are rarely seen.
Blueberry bush leaves turning red
There can be several reasons why your Blueberry plant’s leaves are turning red. Let’s look at them one by one.
If you are seeing red leaves on your Blueberry plant in the spring, it is probably due to Phosphorous deficiency.
This happens when the plant can’t absorb enough Phosphorous due to a rise in the pH of the soil. If this is the case, you need to make the soil acidic.
You can achieve this by adding
- Coffee grounds
- Composted manure
Red Blueberry leaves in Summer
When the plant lacks Magnesium, the veins of the leaves turn yellow first and then become red. Lack of Magnesium leads to lower Chlorophyll levels.
You’ll see that the younger leaves are affected first. This is seen in the summer season.
Is Epsom salt good for Blueberries?
Epsom salt is good for Blueberry bushes especially in the case of Magnesium deficiency. You can add Epsom salt to the soil if Magnesium deficiency is confirmed.
You can add Epsom salts directly to the soil. Add 1 teaspoon of salt per foot height of the plant. For eg., if the plant is 5 feet high, add 5 teaspoons of salt.
Blueberry leaf scorch
This disease is caused by a bacterium. The plants affected by this disease fail to absorb enough water and nutrients.
Plants become stunted and blossoming becomes irregular. Leaves of the plant turn red and eventually fall off the plant.
To fix: Get rid of the infected plants and plant parts as soon as possible. If the plant faced this issue in the previous season, spraying neonicotinoid products will help to prevent an outbreak.
Why did my blueberry bush suddenly die?
Did your Blueberry bush die suddenly? This is probably due to Blueberry Scorch Virus.
Blueberry Scorch Virus
Blueberry Scorch Virus is a pathogen that attacks Blueberry plants. It affects all parts of the plant viz. stems, flowers, leaves, and dieback is seen.
Eventually, such plants may even die. Symptoms can be confused with other pests/diseases. The only way to confirm this infection is via laboratory testing.
This virus spreads via aphids and infected plants. You need to follow several cultural control methods to prevent the disease.
- Carefully dispose of the infected plants to avoid an outbreak.
- Control the aphid population in your garden.
- Plant varieties that are tolerant to this virus, like Bluecrop and Concord.
What kills Blueberry bushes?
Are you wondering what’s killing your lush Blueberry bushes? Blueberries are delicious, who wouldn’t want to taste them?
Viruses may kill Blueberry bushes quickly. Rodents like Mice, Squirrels, Opossums, and Chipmunks eat blueberries.
Various types of birds also like to munch on blueberries.
What is eating my Blueberry bush?
Birds, Rodents, and Insects love to devour blueberries off the bush. You need to take precautions to protect your fruit yield.
To keep off birds you can keep a stuffed Owl toy in the garden. Change its place frequently to make it seem like a real bird and fend off pests.
Many insects like Thrips, Aphids, Scale, Leafhopper, and Mites may attack Blueberry bushes. You can hang sticky traps to see what pests infect your tree.
You need to spray Insecticidal soap or Neem oil to prevent any such pest outbreak. Sticky traps help identify their presence early on.
This is a famous insect pest that infects Blueberry plants. Blueberry Maggot is the larva of a fly. This fly lays eggs in the berries.
These eggs hatch into larvae which eat up the fruits. You need to spray a low residue pesticide as soon as you see rotten berries.
Blueberry leaves turning black
Are your Blueberry plant’s leaves turning black? This is the most common symptom of the Mummy Berry Disease.
Mummy Berry Disease
This disease is caused by a fungus that overwinters in the rotten berries that fall on the ground. So, you need to get rid of rotten berries as soon as possible.
The infected plant’s leaves turn black in color. Coloration happens from the center toward the margins. Infected leaves become wilted and eventually the fruits become wilted too.
Rake the soil below the plant to remove any mummies(rotten, dead fruits), dispose of them. Apply a good layer of organic mulch to stop an outbreak.
Avoid planting the bush in poorly draining soil.
There are Mummy Berry labeled fungicides in the market. You can spray such fungicides in the early spring. You may need to spray a couple of times(spray weekly) to actually see results.
Septoria leaf spot
Septoria leaf spot is caused by a fungus called Septoria. The plants’ leaves affected by this virus get covered in gray to black spots.
This disease is especially seen in a cultivar called ‘Star’.
To prevent a leaf spot outbreak, you need to plant your bushes well apart. This increases the air circulation and keeps the foliage dry.
There are specific fungicides to treat Septoria leaf spot. You may need to spray the infected plant several times to see results.
Blueberry Leaf Rust
Yellow to Orange pustules are seen on the undersides of the leaves that are infected by Leaf rust. On the upper parts of the leaves, you can see yellow-brownish spots.
How to treat Blueberry leaf rust?
You may need to spray fungicides to treat Blueberry leaf rust. You may want to plant varieties that are tolerant to leaf rust.
It is recommended that you spray fungicides from early harvest until August. Spray the fungicide fortnightly for best results.
Blueberry leaves curling
If you see curled leaves on your Blueberry bush it possibly means pH imbalance. The ideal pH of the soil should be from 4.5-5.2.
Leaf curling may also be caused by Aphids. Psyllids are also common pests that cause leaf curling in Blueberry plants.
Look for the signs of the pests, identify the pest correctly and then take the necessary actions to get rid of those pests.
How often should blueberry plants be watered?
Blueberry plants love moist soil. Do not let them sit in waterlogged conditions though. Water with a soaker hose/sprinkler.
Give the plant 1″ of water per week during the growing season. Increase this amount to 4″ per week in the fruiting season.
You need to keep the soil moist up to an inch. Check the soil with fingers if needed.