If you find your blueberry leaves turning brown, it is the first sign that something is wrong with the plant. As soon as you spot them, act fast and prevent the plant from dying. Read on to see what our expert gardeners have to say about these problems; our tips can prevent your blueberry bushes dying.
- Why Are My Blueberries Leaves Turning Brown?
- How To Tell if Your Blueberry Bush Is Dying
- What To Do
Why Are My Blueberries Leaves Turning Brown?
Blueberry leaves can turn brown because of sandy soil, acidic soil, chemicals or disease, among other reasons. You find brown spots on blueberry leaves due to common gardening mistakes. It is important to identify the right cause and work towards fixing it.
– Use of Sandy Soil
If your soil isn’t right, it can lead to brown spots on blueberry leaves. Sandy soil can be deficient in potassium, thereby leading to leaf browning. The easiest way to tackle this is to use organic-rich loam soil to plant your blueberries.
– Acidity Level of the Soil
Another common reason for blueberry plant leaves turning brown is the acid levels. Blueberry bushes need acidic soil with a pH of 4 to 5.5. A soil that doesn’t meet this pH need will cause leaf browning.
– Soil Not Well-drained
The soil of your plant needs to be well-draining. Waterlogging or pooling at the roots can make it rot. In this condition, the plant will not be able to absorb the required nutrients from the soil, thereby turning leaves brown.
– Chemicals Added to the Bushes
Chemicals such as pre-emergent herbicides alter the pH levels in the soil to above 5.5. They are typically used to prevent weeds from growing around a plant. However, these harsh chemicals can cause immense damage to your blueberry plants.
– Plant Disease
Blueberry leaf disease can also cause the blueberry bush turning brown. Various fungal infections such as mummy berry, botrytis blight, gray mold and shoot blight cause extensive damage. These cover the leaves with tiny spores, preventing the penetration of sunlight.
– Overuse of Fertilizers
Overuse of fertilizers can cause brown spots on blueberry leaves. Fertilize the soil as little as possible. Adding more fertilizer does not make the plant healthier; in fact, it can turn out to damage the plant. Check the frequency of fertilizer used and cut back if required.
– Pruning the Plant at the Wrong Time
Pruning blueberry at the wrong time of the year can have detrimental effects. Do not try to prune blueberry bushes until July. The right time is after the spring and summer seasons, when the leaves turn brittle.
– Not Receiving the Right Amount of Sunlight
If you find your blueberry bushes dying, they may not be receiving the right amount of sunlight. Ensure the blueberry plant is in either full or partial sunlight. The plants do well with four to five hours of sun daily.
– Phosphorus Deficiency
If you are seeing a dark, reddish-brown tinge on the leaves in spring, the plant most likely has a phosphorous deficiency. An increase in pH prevents the plant from absorbing enough phosphorus from the soil. Altering the pH will help tackle this problem.
– Frost Conditions
Severe and sudden drops in temperature are not good for your blueberry bush. It can damage the blueberry bushes and buds. You need to protect the bushes from freezing conditions to keep the roots and tender shoots safe and healthy.
How To Tell if Your Blueberry Bush Is Dying
There are vital signs that tell you if your blueberry bush is fine or dying. Learn to identify them before you panic. A blueberry bush can lose leaves and have browning leaves in its natural course of growth.
– Normal Instances in a Blueberry Bush’s Life
- Blueberry bushes leaf out in spring or early summer, typically during May and June.
- July and August will bring in dark green leaves with light undersides.
- A dry, autumn seasonal spell can also cause leaf browning. The foliage will turn orange, red, yellow or a mix of these colors.
- During the winter months, the bush does not sprout leaves and remains in a dormant state.
– Warning Signs
If you spot any one of the below signs, it indicates that the plant isn’t doing well in its entirety.
- No new leaves are sprouting during spring and summer
- Leaves are turning brown before autumn
- Leaves are turning brown but don’t fall
- Losing leaves in summer or before any blooms
What To Do
Here is what you can do when you spot that first brown leaf on your blueberry bush. If you have spotted any one of the warning signs, it is time to act. Being quick helps in reviving the plant to its healthy state before it’s too late.
– Fix Watering Problems
Blueberry bushes love moist soil, so whether it is summer or a dry autumn seasonal spell, your focus should be to maintain the soil in a moist state. The easiest way to achieve this is to use organic mulch.
Organic mulch such as pine needles, bark and wood chips are perfect to retain moisture. It also prevents any unwanted weed growth around the blueberry bush. Avoid the use of synthetic mulches as they damage the soil and environment.
– Provide Good Drainage
Water-logging at the roots leads to root rot, thereby inhibiting plant nutrition. Ensure the area around the bush is not puddled. Build a raised bed filled with acidic soil and provide 1-2 inches of water only once per week if there isn’t any rain.
Good drainage, along with leveling of the soil, is a must. This will also prevent the growth of fungal diseases.
– Tackling Blueberry Disease
Fungal diseases cause lesions on the flowers, leaves and stems. They also cause white spores that infect the plant in its entirety. Such conditions can kill the plant.
Spray the blueberry bush with a good fungicide as soon as you find such spots. A phosphite fungicide will be ideal as it has proven to be efficient in tackling the problem. The right time to spray this will be before the full bloom when the flower is still pink.
– Pick the Right Type of Soil
The soil for the blueberry bush needs to be loamy. If it isn’t, then add in some aged fir, finely chopped bark or pine sawdust. This will improve its aeration.
– Test the pH in the Soil
Blueberry bushes thrive in acidic soil. With the help of a testing kit, test your soil. If you find that it isn’t between the pH range of 4 to 5.5, alter the soil accordingly.
Lower the pH by adding granular elemental sulfur or peat moss. It will take sulfur around one year to alter the soil pH, and pH testers can also check the moisture content present in the soil.
– Prune the Bush During Fall
The right time to prune your blueberry bush is during fall. Avoid spring or early summer when the plant is in bloom. To prune your plant properly, begin by cutting the top growth of the bush and keeping the sturdiest upright shoots intact.
– Provide Adequate Sunlight
Blueberry bushes need full to partial sunlight, so ensure that the plant receives at least 4-5 hours of sunlight daily. If required, transplant the bush to a sunny area. This will keep it healthy and prevent wilting and leaf browning.
– Cut Back on the Fertilizer
With the right soil conditions and adequate sunlight, blueberry bushes can thrive well on their own. You will not require additional use of fertilizers. Moist, acidic soil and an organic compost mix once a year is all that you will need.
– Preventing Phosphorous Deficiency
You can prevent phosphorous deficiency in your blueberry bush by adding the following organic materials.
- Composted manure
- Coffee grounds
- Sphagnum Moss
– Protect Saplings
Always place seeds in two feet gaps. In the nascent stages, it is advisable to place them in a sheltered spot. Provide direct sunlight for one hour daily and then move them indoors. Repeat this for a few weeks until they have grown into sturdy saplings that can stay outside the full day.
As the samplings need monitored conditions in the initial stages, it is better to sow them in pots. A strong sapling grows into a healthy and vibrant blueberry bush.
– Tackle Frost Conditions
As you are already aware, frost can cause extensive damage to your blueberry bushes. Plant blueberry bushes away from winds. A slope or the eastern side of the garden will be ideal.
Keep the soil moist even in cold months to help in absorbing heat during the day. It will conduct heat towards the surface of the soil, keeping the roots warmer.
If you are anticipating frost, try and water the bushes a day or two before. After that, water once a week throughout the winter season.
We have explained the common reasons that cause leaf browning in blueberry bushes. Here is a quick summary of it and how you can tackle the problem.
- Maintain an acidic and moist soil
- Provide the right pH to the soil
- Do not over-use fertilizers
- Prune at the right time
- Provide adequate sunlight
- Tackle fungi disease
Blueberry bushes are not difficult to maintain. Having read our expert gardening tips, you will now be able to keep your blueberry bushes healthy and vibrant.
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