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  #1  
Old 07-22-2007, 12:02 PM
Merijeek Merijeek is offline
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Why won't my blueberry bush grow?

So, here's the situation.

Two summers ago I got one of those bags from Lowe's that had a stick poking out of it that's allegedly a blueberry bush.

I put it in a large pot, since I wasn't sure where in the yard I wanted it. It's probably a 2-3 gallon terra cotta planter.

Last year, it did nothing. It remained a stick. However, it never died, though. There was still a twinge of red and green that showed it was still alive, so I left it be.

This spring came, and I was finally going to get rid of the thing. When I went to do, it, though, it had some leaves on it! Victory! Probably about ten of them, even.

Now, nearly four months later, I have...a stick, allegedly a blueberry bush, that has about 10 leaves on it, stuck in a largish pot.

So, any suggestions?

-Joe
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  #2  
Old 07-22-2007, 12:10 PM
twickster twickster is online now
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What kind of blueberry is it; what kind of sun is it getting; what kind of soil is it in? (High bush or low bush; should be getting a lot of sun and very acid soil.)

Did it get any flowers on it at all?

Blueberries cross-pollinate, so you need more than one bush, of more than one variety, in order to get fruit.
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  #3  
Old 07-22-2007, 12:15 PM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is offline
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I don't know where you are located, but this site from Ohio has some good general tips for growing blueberries that might apply in your case:
Quote:
Blueberries could make a good fruit crop for home gardens since they require small space. At present, blueberry plants are not common in home plantings because the plants require highly acidic soil conditions for best results. Few backyard soils in Ohio are naturally acidic enough to grow quality blueberries. The grower of blueberries must, therefore, make extra effort to acidify the soil before plant establishment. Then, the acidity level must be maintained over the life of the planting. Due to the special concerns associated with the rather demanding soil requirements of growing the crop, the soil must be amended with organic matter and the pH must be corrected before proceeding to establish the planting.

Blueberry plants begin to produce fruit in the third season; however, they do not become fully productive for about six years (Figure 1). Once in production, it is necessary to protect the fruit from loss to birds.
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  #4  
Old 07-22-2007, 01:45 PM
Merijeek Merijeek is offline
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Fear Itself, before asking my question I found that exact same site. FTR, I'm in Mississippi.

Anyways, maybe I'm assuming too much, but looking at the site I see things like "for best results". To me, that kind of means "If you want lots of fruit". That's kind of like worrying about a marathon when I can't even walk.

Except for the leaves sprouting this year, this thing has not grown. Period. It hasn't gotten taller, it hasn't gotten thicker, and it hasn't sprouted any additional branches.

As for twickster's questions, I have no idea. The bag it came in is looong gone. No flowers - never. Not even the hint.

If it's a matter of making the soil more acidic, sure, I can do that. I just don't want to if there's some big detail I'm missing.

-Joe
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  #5  
Old 07-22-2007, 01:51 PM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Merijeek
If it's a matter of making the soil more acidic, sure, I can do that. I just don't want to if there's some big detail I'm missing.
Did you find anything about growing them in pots? maybe they don't like that.
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  #6  
Old 07-22-2007, 06:02 PM
VernWinterbottom VernWinterbottom is offline
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Just as a note, it's going to take a while for a home-improvement-center-stick-in-a-bag to develop a decent root system. It was probably nine-tenths dead when you bought it. Really, you're quite lucky it survived at all. Keep it watered well and in the sun.

The pot's big enough. You might want to add an acidifying fertilizer. The main thing, though, is it's doing stuff underground right now. It might be a couple of years at this rate before it even thinks about flowering.

If you want blueberries, go to a real nursery and spend twelve to fifteen dollars on a nicely established bush in a pot.

Sticks in bags are a very frustrating way to try to garden.
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  #7  
Old 07-22-2007, 09:46 PM
Merijeek Merijeek is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fear Itself
Did you find anything about growing them in pots? maybe they don't like that.
No, but it actually spent its first year in the ground. When the missus of the house told me I had to get rid of it so we could get something else there, I stick it in the pot.

Thanks, Vern. I get what you're saying - it's not like it was a well-planned purchase or anything.

I'm not really looking for fruit (I don't even eat it!), I just like growing stuff and get annoyed when it doesn't seem to go anywhere. A dead plant I can understand. One in stasis is a bit different.

-Joe
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  #8  
Old 07-23-2007, 12:38 AM
Wheeljack Wheeljack is offline
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I wish I had something more helpful to post...

Three years ago my dad cut me a stick-in-a-bag from a blueberry he'd had going for about twenty years. After the first two years I put it in a five gallon pot because it was getting too big. During the third year, this thing went absolutely nuts and started sending out new growth everywhere. It had berries all over, and the farthest branch probably reaches a good three feet from the pot. I really need to train it to something, but were were hoping to wait until we finished buying a house to stick it in the ground.

Anyway, here's the weird thing: besides the repot, I've done absolutely nothing to take care of this thing. No soil treatments, no cover in the winter, not even watering during the summer (it rains every day.) It is literally the easiest plant I've ever had to keep healthy. One day it was just sitting in its pot and decided to go buckwild. (People still go buckwild, right?)

So my suggestion would be to scrap this one and get a cutting potted up by someone who knows their blueberries. I think yours just got off to a bad start. If you're just doing something wrong with it, I have no clue what it might be, since nothing at all seems to do the trick with mine.

Good luck!
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  #9  
Old 07-23-2007, 01:41 AM
Full Metal Lotus Full Metal Lotus is offline
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Apply the three rules of fertilizer.. "up, around, in the ground"
they relate to the three numbers on a fertilizer bag.


a 30/30/30 fertilizer will just give a fast growth of "up"
in the first yr, which is good and gives few berries

switch to a 10/50/40 in the second yr to produce "bush" (expect a few berries)

switecht a 40/10/40 there after for yield.


The preceding assumes a normal soil pH of around 6, and a neutral humous (desicated bark/sand clay) ,mix


(extreme northern climate ( central Alberta Canada)

Regards
FML
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  #10  
Old 07-23-2007, 04:55 AM
Gymnopithys Gymnopithys is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Merijeek
No, but it actually spent its first year in the ground. When the missus of the house told me I had to get rid of it so we could get something else there, I stick it in the pot. -Joe
Planting and replanting will slow its growth. And blueberry is a slow growing plant.
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  #11  
Old 07-23-2007, 07:59 AM
vetbridge vetbridge is offline
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My gf has a huge harvest of blueberries every year. She gives her plants meticulous care. They are mulched regularly with pine needles, fertilized with composted horse manure, and covered with netting to keep the birds from doing a premature harvest. It seems like a ton of work, but fresh blueberry pancakes on a Sunday morning, wow.
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  #12  
Old 06-09-2014, 12:02 PM
MaryE MaryE is offline
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Blueberry Blues!

I came to the website because I, too, stuck some sticks in the ground about 3 years ago! They are now about a foot high with some leaves, but not much else. I finally bought some soil acidifier and have been feeding them about once a month. I was kind of glad to discover I wasn't alone. I planted 2 varieties for cross-pollination. But I've yet to get the first bloom. Guess I'll try the 3 step fertilizer dance. Thanks for the tips, y'all! MaryE
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  #13  
Old 06-09-2014, 02:08 PM
Jackmannii Jackmannii is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VernWinterbottom View Post
If you want blueberries, go to a real nursery and spend twelve to fifteen dollars on a nicely established bush in a pot
Yes, start with good-sized healthy plants. Trying to nurse along an invalid mini-blueberry bush will be frustrating.

I have about a dozen blueberry plants in a raised bed that gets some acidic fertilizer (the acidic part is probably more important than the fertilizer part - see appropriate websites for info on gradually lowering pH). They fruited well last year and I have a good-sized crop ripening currently.

Blueberries aren't that complicated to raise. One variety to try is "Top Hat", a fruitful dwarf plant.

And if anyone decides to go the mail order route, here's a good company to avoid.

Last edited by Jackmannii; 06-09-2014 at 02:09 PM..
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  #14  
Old 06-09-2014, 02:53 PM
Hector_St_Clare Hector_St_Clare is offline
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Blueberries require very acidic soil, which makes them difficult to grow in a lot of places.
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  #15  
Old 06-09-2014, 02:57 PM
Mdcastle Mdcastle is offline
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One thing I learned about gardening in general- some plants like what you have to offer and some don't. My Bleeding Hearts grow like weeds, but I can't grow Shasta Daisies or Columbines. I'll try replanting something once, but if that doesn't work I assume that species doesn't like it here and try something else.
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  #16  
Old 06-09-2014, 03:07 PM
am77494 am77494 is offline
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The soil in my yard is alkaline but I have had very good luck in growing blueberry in 10 gallon pots.

I have used top soil 7 gallons (not potting soil or any of the fancy soil ), sand about 2 gallons and half a pound of sulfur granules well mixed together.
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  #17  
Old 06-09-2014, 03:25 PM
jtur88 jtur88 is offline
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As I recall, blueberries do not grow tall. They spread out over the ground, and need ground to spread out over.
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  #18  
Old 06-09-2014, 05:46 PM
obbn obbn is offline
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We just purchased one from Lowes last week. It was already producing berries from the site. We just planted it and have eaten a few of the berries. Sadly, they were a bit sour. I think we need to leave them on the plant longer.
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  #19  
Old 06-09-2014, 05:57 PM
Dana Scully Dana Scully is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mdcastle View Post
One thing I learned about gardening in general- some plants like what you have to offer and some don't. My Bleeding Hearts grow like weeds, but I can't grow Shasta Daisies or Columbines. I'll try replanting something once, but if that doesn't work I assume that species doesn't like it here and try something else.
A very sensible approach to gardening
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  #20  
Old 06-09-2014, 09:05 PM
susan susan is offline
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It's easy to get the acidity right in a quarter-barrel or other large planter. They dry out more quickly, though. We have four dwarf blueberry varieties in big pots because even though our soil is acidic, they just like the pots better.
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  #21  
Old 06-10-2014, 11:49 AM
Dallas Jones Dallas Jones is offline
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Planting blueberries in pots is just a bad idea if you can avoid it, the roots dry out too fast and too often and blueberries hate that. Some plants like a deep watering with periods to dry out in between so the roots don't rot, not blueberries, don't let the roots dry out.

Blueberries planted in the ground have shallow roots. Keep the base of the plants mounded with compost or bark dust, regular sawdust or wood chips work too. This keeps the roots protected from drying out in the summer and freezing in the winter. It also helps to acidify the soil.

Planting a couple different varieties helps increase fruit yield and will extend your harvest time since some ripen early and some ripen later. Water with a soluble fertilizer designed for acid loving plants like rhododendron and azalea. Miracle Grow makes an acid loving blend for these flowering plants that works great. Look on the box and it will also mention blueberries.

I have six mature plants of three different varieties and I will harvest berries starting in July and continuing all summer long. The plants are now 5 to 6 feet high and as large around and it looks like another bumper crop this year. NW Oregon has a great climate for berries. I picked about 20 large one gallon zip-lock bags of berries last year and the plants are loaded with green berries now and bending over.

I give away blueberries like some people give away zucchini.
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  #22  
Old 06-25-2014, 02:47 PM
geisert geisert is offline
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Growing Blueberry Bushes in Containers

We currently have 3 and 4 yr old Elliot and Bluecrop growing in 5 gallon containers. We use Canadian Peat Moss which is naturally acidic. We bury them in the 5 gallon container in the ground low enough to allow mulching and protect from the winter cold. They are thriving. We drill holes in the bottom of the containers for drainage. Once our planting area is prepped (takes about a year), the plants are transplanted. Blueberry plants love moist soil, but not standing water.
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  #23  
Old 06-25-2014, 04:19 PM
donkeyoatey donkeyoatey is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Full Metal Lotus View Post

(extreme northern climate ( central Alberta Canada)
Huh? You think Edmonton has an extreme northern climate?
How would you rate Peace River? High Level?
And the Northwest Territories,Yukon and Nunavut?
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  #24  
Old 06-25-2014, 04:32 PM
RingsOfPylon RingsOfPylon is offline
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Generally, for potted plants:

1. Make sure you are using a potting mix and not garden soil. If you were using the fabric type pots, such as Smart Pots, soil is ok. But for "normal" pots of plastic, ceramic, etc. you need to use potting mix. I think you probably know that already, but it's a mistake I made when I was a new gardener.

2. Make sure the pot drains well. Ideally there should be holes in the bottom for water to drain out. You don't want the plant in standing water or spending days in soggy potting mix. I know that terra cotta planters "weep", but I don't know if they weep enough to keep plants from sitting in swamp-like conditions. On the other hand, I've seen people grow successfully with terra cotta planters, so I imagine they may not require special consideration.

3. Fertilize regularly. Unlike soil, potting mix doesn't have the nutrients that plants need, and any nutrients get washed out quickly with regular waterings. I would use a water soluble, quick acting fertilizer and follow the package directions for indoor plants - once every week or two (check directions for frequency).

4. I don't normally use slow-acting, organic type fertilizers for potted plants. It takes a long time for them to break down. Plus, potting mix doesn't have the food soil web that's required to break them down and make them available to the plant.

5. Don't overwater. Stick your finger down a few inches into the potting mix around the plant. If it's damp, don't water. If it's getting on the dry side, then water.

6. Make sure the pot is big enough to support the growing needs of the plant. I don't know what size pot blueberries need, but some plants need a lot of room in order to thrive.

7. Blueberries like acidic soil. It's something you may want to consider, but I think the problem is more fundamental than that right now.

You probably know all this already, but I'm just giving a basic checklist.

Blueberries also need a certain number of chill hours each year, where the temps fall below 45F. Varieties developed for warmer climates need anywhere from 150-800 chill hours per year. If you know the variety you can look up the requirements. In other words, I hope you're not bringing the plant into the house over the winter. :-)

Generally, I agree with other posters about buying "body bags" from box stores. I've had a few successes, but even if the plants survive, those stores don't always sell the right variety for the climate. You are better off going to a local nursery. Even though there are some not-very-knowledgeable local nursery staff, you have a good chance of getting something that is suitable for your climate and growing season.
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