Blueberry leaves turning brown--why?

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by hisenthlay, Jul 15, 2005.

  1. hisenthlay

    hisenthlay a.k.a. hyzenthlay

    Messages:
    2,024
    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2005
    Location:
    Southwestern PA
    They've been doing fine all summer, growing a bit and putting out decent amounts of berries--most of which are blue but not totally ripe yet. But a couple days ago I noticed the tips of some of the lower leaves were starting to turn brown, and now some of those are all brown and crunchy, and some leaves towards the middle are starting to turn brown on the tips too.

    What did I do wrong? :confused: This is my first year really gardening, and I feel like I know nothing :(

    Here are details, if they help diagnose:
    They are in containers about 18" across, and the plant growth is about 2 and a half feet tall. I bought them this spring, and I think they are 2 years old. I put them in some good compost, with some styrafoam peanuts at the bottom of the pots to help with drainage. I know they like acid soil--I haven't tested the pH, but I've been putting some leftover coffee and grounds on the soil about once a week. I've also been using some fertilizer for acid-loving plants that I had laying around--I've been diluting it more than the directions say to, though, because it's for azaleas and things, and I didn't know if it would be more likely to burn blueberries. They get full sun, and I water them almost everyday since they are in containers--they are never really wet or dry and wilty.

    So why are they all of a sudden turning brown? :help:
    Thanks
     
  2. countrygrrrl

    countrygrrrl PITA

    Messages:
    1,265
    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2003
    Location:
    Zone Unknown
    Was there any kind of drastic swing in temps?

    We had early heat <grumble grumble> --- basically August temps in late May-early June --- and a few leaves on one of my bloob plants turned brownish red. I watered a little extra and said some prayers to the Blueberry Gods. All's now well, so I think the browning was in reaction to premature heat and extreme temps.
     

  3. hisenthlay

    hisenthlay a.k.a. hyzenthlay

    Messages:
    2,024
    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2005
    Location:
    Southwestern PA
    It has been getting hotter--it made it to 90 earlier this week for the first time, and it's gradually cooled to a muggy 84 high today, nighttime lows in the mid 70s, I think. But is that really too hot for blueberries in July?
     
  4. Gayle in KY

    Gayle in KY Gadabout

    Messages:
    2,470
    Joined:
    May 13, 2002
    Are there any bugs on them? Japanese beetles did that to mine.
     
  5. MoBarger

    MoBarger Goat's Milk soap for sale

    Messages:
    374
    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2003
    Location:
    upstate NY
    Water and nutrients are the first things that come to mind, especially when you mention that they are potted plants. Too much nitrogen can produce those kinds of results.
    You say the lower leaves are browning and it is going up the plant. That would make me suspect a virus and not sun damage. Do the leaves exhibit any kind of spotting or patterns before dying all the way? What to the branches look like, any spots on them? Can you cut open a branch where you have dead leaves and see if the wood itself is dead too? When you bought them, were they certified virus-free?
    Since they are stressed I would move them a little out of the sun. Adjust your watering accordingly.
     
  6. countrygrrrl

    countrygrrrl PITA

    Messages:
    1,265
    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2003
    Location:
    Zone Unknown
    90 degrees mid-July isn't extreme, unless you're swinging up there from a couple months of, say, 60's-70's.

    Heat's not your problem.
     
  7. hisenthlay

    hisenthlay a.k.a. hyzenthlay

    Messages:
    2,024
    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2005
    Location:
    Southwestern PA
    I couldn't find any bugs, or any suspicious spots on branches. The stems that the brown leaves are on are still green, and I think the woody branches are still alive too.

    Ok, here are a few pics--maybe they'll help, since I might not be describing things right. Sorry if they're too big...

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    And here's one of the berries.

    [​IMG]

    Thanks for all your knowledgeable help.
     
  8. countrygrrrl

    countrygrrrl PITA

    Messages:
    1,265
    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2003
    Location:
    Zone Unknown
    I know you said you have them in full sun --- but do you have them in an open area or against a white building, like what I see in your pic? If you have them against a white building, I'd move them.

    O/w --- ??? Maybe they just need some more time getting adjusted.
     
  9. hisenthlay

    hisenthlay a.k.a. hyzenthlay

    Messages:
    2,024
    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2005
    Location:
    Southwestern PA
    They're actually usually against a red brick wall (our half-underground garage--the wall is about 6' high from ground level), but I moved them to get better contrast for the picture. Those doors are actually kind of a sea green, if it makes a difference. The wall is on the north side of them, so it never really manages to cast a shadow over them. To make matters worse, the pots are also sitting on top of concrete, not ground. I was worried at first that the brick and concrete might capture too much heat, but things seemed to be going fine for awhile. The leaves closest to the wall aren't the ones turning brown. Do you think the wall could be the problem, though? My yard is so tree-y, that spot by the garage is pretty much the sunniest I have. I have bell peppers and blackberries in bigger containers right next to the blueberries, and they are doing fine (so far). Are you thinking they are getting too much sun, or too little?

    h (<--wishes she were out of the :grit: city with some real land to garden. Just a few more years....)
     
  10. countrygrrrl

    countrygrrrl PITA

    Messages:
    1,265
    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2003
    Location:
    Zone Unknown
    That would be my guess, yea. Actually, it's my experience that plants have problems when they don't go through a natural cycle of heating up - cooling down. Keeping smallsh pots on concrete and keeping pots next to brick walls will interfere with that cycle, at least around here where 100+ degrees isn't uncommon. In fact, in these parts, keeping a smallish pot on concrete or next to a wall will kill it pretty fast.

    I'd get them onto ground if you can, even if it means moving them out of full sun.
     
  11. hisenthlay

    hisenthlay a.k.a. hyzenthlay

    Messages:
    2,024
    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2005
    Location:
    Southwestern PA
    Thanks for all your help. Tomorrow morning I'll try to find a sunny place for them on the lawn. I hope that's all it takes, because it's a pretty simple solution. :)

    We actually have a pretty big yard, by city standards, but someone at some point decided it would be a good idea to pour a big concrete pad down in the main sunny area for a (pretty darn ugly) patio. :grump: If we were going to be here long enough to justify the effort/cost I'd rip the whole thing out, but we're saving up for a place farther out instead. Just a few more years... that's my mantra....
     
  12. Ed in S. AL

    Ed in S. AL Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,052
    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2002
    Location:
    At the end of the road.
    I can't figure out what happened to my blueberry bushes this year. Some are about 4 years old. But the tops of every single bush died out this year, and now I have hundreds of new shoots coming up, which are about a foot tall now.
     
  13. countrygrrrl

    countrygrrrl PITA

    Messages:
    1,265
    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2003
    Location:
    Zone Unknown
    Woah. Ed, that sounds pretty good to me!