Hello experts, I have some one year old blueberry bushes I got as free...

Asked July 31, 2014, 10:29 AM EDT

Hello experts, I have some one year old blueberry bushes I got as free samples from a grower. They are on the west side of my house and receive full sun. I planted them in June and they have struggled since I planted them. The leaves are turning red and have spots on both the upper and lower surfaces. The soil is definitely acidic- a test last year yielded a pH of 4.7, 73 ppm phosphorus and 178 ppm potassium. I am not sure if it is a lack of nutrients (I threw some kelp meal into the soil prior to planting) or something fungal or viral. Or maybe I have hit the jackpot with all three? Any guidance you have is greatly appreciated. Even though I got these for free, my gardening pride is on the line! Thank you!

Baltimore County Maryland

1 Response

Your blueberries are showing stress signs. It does not look like a disease or insect problem. The blueberries do not look happy in their current location. They are surrounded by vegetation, planted too close together (space should be about 5 feet between plants), and are in a western location. Blueberries grow best in an acidic soil well amended with organic matter. They can also tolerate some shade in the afternoon. The roots are devoid of root hairs and will require attention to watering during dry periods. Mulch to keep the weeds down and conserve moisture.
See our profile on blueberries for planting, cultural, and pruning information http://extension.umd.edu/growit/fruit-profiles/blueberries#blueberry

Fertilizer - None the first year of planting. 2nd year - 2 oz. of 21-0-0 (ammonium sulfate) per plant during bloom, and the same amount 3 weeks later. Scatter in a ring 15 - 18 inches from the plant.
3rd year - Increase by 1 oz. per year until the 6th year, then use 8 oz. per plant each succeeding year. Avoid fertilizers containing nitrates or chlorides.