En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - July 02, 2008

From: Fort Worth, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Container Gardens, Soils, Shade Tolerant, Shrubs
Title: Darkened leaves on blueberry bush
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a blueberry bush planted in a very large pot. It has been doing very well, producing berries and new growth. All of a sudden the leaves have begun to turn dark. I have it potted in good soil and good light, but wonder if I have been watering it too much. Can you help me?

ANSWER:

This is probably a hybrid blueberry bush, with who knows what parentage, but we will work with what we know about two blueberries native to Texas and try to deduce from that what is causing your leaves to darken.

Vaccinium fuscatum (black highbush blueberry) and Vaccinium corymbosum (highbush blueberry) are both native to Texas. The USDA Plant Profile for the black highbush shows it growing naturally in only a few counties in far East Texas. The highbush blueberry, in this USDA Plant Profile, grows in a few more Texas counties, but they are all in deep east and northeast Texas. This is probably our best clue to what's going on with your blueberries. East Texas is well known to have acid, sandy soils, rich in organic matter because of the stands of trees, including pines in that area. Fort Worth is well known to NOT have that kind of soil, with the soils generally being more alkaline.

You obviously made a wise choice potting your blueberry. Read this article from Botany.com on Vaccinium, and learn how to manufacture the correct soil for an acid-loving plant in an area with alkaline soils. Page down on the site until you come to paragraphs on Potting, Container Growing and Fertilizer. They will give you step-by-step instructions for planting and caring for your blueberry. The only place we found a mention of darkening leaves was in reference to a possible nitrogen deficiency. When the soil is amended, a high-nitrogen fertilizer, blood meal or cottonseed meal need to be added. According to our Native Plant Database, blueberries frequently grow in swamp areas, and need a damp soil, with good drainage. They can tolerate sun, part shade to shade; since they are more commonly found in cooler areas, it might be well to put the pot in a spot that is shaded during the hottest part of the day.


Vaccinium fuscatum

Vaccinium corymbosum

 

 

More Soils Questions

Difficulty with Clay Soil from Palm Bay, FL
August 22, 2012 - I had a very nice little native shady area behind my house for over 40 years, but now it has been cleared except for a 100 foot tall live oak in the center of this raised mound (50' x 80'). I've be...
view the full question and answer

Chlorosis in Texas Wisteria from Blanco TX
November 05, 2012 - Just noticed a Texas Wisteria I bought last month and it is already looking chlorotic. Mixed compost in w/the dirt it is planted in but I don't think that will be enough. Is Blanco soil too alkaline?...
view the full question and answer

Erosion control on slope from Columbia SC
April 25, 2013 - We are in the process of having a new home built in Columbia South Carolina. Part of the front yard has a steep slope starting approximately four feet from the corner of the house and running to the ...
view the full question and answer

How will my Texas Mountain Laurel survive clay soil?
June 09, 2009 - Mr. Smarty Pants: I live in a new neighborhood (brownfield site) in Central Austin where the developers have put fill in the yards. After not much more than 2 inches of topsoil you encounter fairl...
view the full question and answer

Damage to native elm in Texas
August 20, 2008 - We had a major landscape renovation done over the winter. One of the trees, an elm about 10 yrs old, remained in the bed although plants around it were removed. The tree has suddenly started turning...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center