Blueberries picking. Female hand gathering blueberries. Harvesting concept.

Blueberries, a native American plant, are among the most maintenance free of all of the tiny fruits which can be grown by home gardeners. These long-lived plants will endure for several years and if they’re properly planted and cared for and watered and their fertilizer needs are supplied. If you develop blueberry plants it’s important to understand about their care. To grow blueberry crops you need to understand the pH soil requirements.

Soil analysis

If your soil or and the water is alkaline this can cause a lack of some minerals required for green foliage production and plant development. Before planting have the soil analyzed. It’s extremely vital to have a soil analysis performed to determine the pH and the soils needs before conducting soil preparation. You should have your soil tested twice; after before soil preparation and acidification, and after after fertilizer and sulfur have been added. Additional adjustments can then be made if needed. Your local county extension office will have the soil testing forms and instructions available. This can usually be done at little if any price. Blueberries can’t be grown in high pH soil.


Blueberry plants require at least 1 to 2 inches of water weekly. They have very shallow roots and the roots don’t have any hairs to help maintain moisture. Thus they are quite sensitive to water changes. In dry seasons, supplemental watering is essential to attain superior yields. However, do not use water after early September unless soil is quite dry.

Over watering can damage plant roots, so it is impossible for them to obtain minerals. The roots of plants in poorly drained soil could be ruined and this may lead to death of the plant. In poorly drained soil like clay soil that the plants must be planted in raised beds to prevent root damage due to water drainage.

Amending your soil

You can usually amendment your dirt so that you may grow blueberry plants. If you don’t fertilize regularly or care for the soil to decrease the pH, the crops may get anemic and don’t prosper. It has to be emphasized that unless the soil pH is between about 4.5 and 5.0 the blueberry plant cannot vigorously grow. The incorrect pH is among the principal causes for blueberry plant collapse.

It’s not always that the crucial minerals aren’t found in the soil. It might only be that since the pH of the soil is too alkaline causing them to be insoluble. Therefore adding more zinc, iron, or magnesium, won’t correct the problem. For instance, Iron is taken up by plants as a positive ion (Fe++) by ion exchange in the root surface. In alkaline soil hydroxide (OH-) is much more plentiful. The hydroxide combines with the iron ions to make iron hydroxide (Fe(OH)2) that the plant can’t absorb. Thus the plant is robed of the positive ion (Fe++) it requires. The remedy is to gently acidify the soil.

Often a person in attempting to assist can make the situation worse by adding too much fertilizer, or the incorrect type. For instance, excess phosphorus can make iron inaccessible. The solution is to fix the soil pH instead of incorporating a more fertilizer. It’s important to realize that lime increases soil pH, thus you don’t apply lime whatsoever on the soil of blueberry plants.

If the soil is too simple it has to be amended. The easy solution is to make the soil slightly acid. You should make sure and keep an eye on your soils pH.

Suggestions for Soil Acidification

Adjust the soil pH by applying sulfur is the easy method. Elemental sulfur will respond with soil microbes leading to the production of sulfuric acid and hydrogen. It is possible to apply sulfur anytime of year even though the sulfur is acted on faster from the soil microbes during warm weather; Adding sulfur is an approved organic way of making the soil more acidic.

When planting a blueberry plant, then thoroughly combine two cups of sulfur with the soil. Put this in every planting hole with the back-fill soil when planting.

When treating entire areas use 5 to 10 pounds of sulfur per 100 sq. ft. Mixing the sulfur to the soil increases contact with the germs producing faster outcome than when the sulfur is merely air on the surface. After planting, each season then you can follow-up by dispersing coarse sulfur round the established bushes. Raking the sulfur to the soil, or covering it with mulch, makes the contact required and receives the dirt microbes in contact with the sulfur so that they can begin working on it quicker.

Organic Fertilizer

Cottonseed meal is a superb organic fertilizer which makes soil more acidic. Adding organic substance using compost makes minerals available to plants by their decomposition. The decomposition of organic material creates humic acid, which broadly binds those important positive ions of magnesium, iron, etc., making them available for the plant roots. An important purpose of humic acid is that it retains the iron and other ions from precipitating out into insoluble forms. Humic substances are the most stable portion of organic matter in soils. They appear from the microbial degradation of plant (and possibly animal) bio-molecules dispersed in the environment following the death of living cells.


How to counteracting the effects of watering with alkaline water:

      • Add sulfur and organic material mixed in the soil. This will help the soil around the roots to be supplying sulfuric acid and humic acid. These two are produced slowly but slowly during hot weather to help acidify the soil.
      • Spread Leaves and pine needles around the plants in fall to decompose Additional sulfur and mulch can be placed on the surface around established plants. Scatter sulfur and include a few inches of mulch each spring or summer.
      • Adding sulfate containing fertilizer into the soil. Follow the package instructions, during the growing season. Follow the instructions on the tag. Do not depend solely on them to reduce soil pH. Use a pH meter to monitor your soil.

Other ideas

Weak vinegar alternatives, and epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) are now and then used, to supply short-term alteration to the pH. Peat moss that’s naturally low in pH: is widely used when planting blueberry plants, camellias and azaleas. Coffee grounds are useful.