Problems With My Blueberry Bush
I have a blueberry bush that is now approximately seven years old. For its first three years, the bush neither flowered nor bloomed. I was ready to give it away when I noticed that it was finally starting to bloom. Since then, the bush has bloomed every year and produces blueberries; however, the yield is minimal. The birds eat all that the bush produces. The bush grows well and is now a good size. Admittedly, I have done little to care for it other than water it. However, I am now very interested in its care and would like to see it produce more fruit. I got a book from the library on vegetable and fruit gardening to help me better understand how to care for the bush. The book states that blueberry bushes require an acidic soil and that rainwater, not tap water, is best for it. I went to my local big box stores in search of an appropriate soil, but I could not find anything labeled as acidic. I assume that I will have to add to the plant's current soil to make it acidic, but I do not know how to proceed. Can you tell me how to make the bush's soil more acidic and increase it's yield? Thank you,
Baltimore County Maryland
Blueberries require acidic soils (pH 4.3 - 5.3) high in organic matter to be successful. It is usually recommended to lower the pH about a year before planting.
At this point, test your soil for pH and nutrient deficiencies. http://extension.umd.edu/hgic/soils/soil-testing
Once you receive your soil test results you can look on our website for recommendations to lower your soil pH if need be. This takes time and you can start this fall to incorporate the soil amendments such as sulfur and iron sulfate. It may take several seasons to reach the desired pH. You can send us another email if you need help interpreting the soil results.
Blueberries are self-fertile but produce more and larger berries when two or more cultivars are planted. You may want to plant another cultivar or two next spring. If you do, prepare the soil this fall. http://extension.umd.edu/hgic/plants/blueberries-selection-and-planting
You will have to pay attention to irrigation and mulching. The root system is very fibrous but devoid of root hairs. (Root hairs function in most plants by increasing the surface area of the root for water and nutrient uptake.) This characteristic makes the blueberry plant very sensitive to changing soil/water conditions.
Also, you will have to protect your blueberries with netting from birds and wildlife.
Take a look at our website for blueberry planting, fertilizing, pruning, maintenance, and common problems