Replacing a dead blueberry bush?

Asked April 8, 2018, 10:13 PM EDT

Would it be wise to plant another blueberry bush in the half-barrel in which a high-bush plant died for an unknown cause. (The adjacent plant with same soil in another barrel is thriving.) Could it be because the soil is not acidic enough? It's mostly pleat moss, compost and sand and I've added some ammonium sulfate each spring, but my pH meter shows that it's only slightly acidic. Should I amend the soil with lime or something else? Or is it more likely there's a disease or fungus that would attack any new plant in the same soil? Many thanks! Ed Fallon

Prince George's County Maryland

1 Response

There could be a number of factors, individually or in combination, that led to the decline of your blueberry plant: winter injury to roots, location of container, cultivar and condition of original plant, lack of water, etc. An elevated pH would be a less likely cause of decline and death of the plant.It's also unlikely that your plant died from a disease in the growing media.

You could use the existing growing media from the barrel with the dead plant, adding more peat moss and compost to freshen it up, along with a cup of elemental sulfur.

But be aware that organic materials, like peat moss and compost, continue to physically degrade into smaller and smaller soil particles which can start to impede the movement of air, water, and roots.

So, if the growing media is several years old it would be preferable to dump it out into a garden area and start over with a 50:50 mix of peat moss and compost. Add the cup of sulfur to lower the pH (lime would increase the pH) and fertilize with ammonium sulfate.