En Español

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

Failure to thrive of desert willow in Wimberley TX
August 10, 2010 - I have a desert willow. It is always, whether I water it or leave it alone, yellow/ brown leaves, dark spots on the leaves, losing leaves. now it looks sad and not very healthy. Can you please tell m...
view the full question and answer

Revegetating a hillside in western Washington state
October 10, 2012 - Removing several downed trees across my dock demolished the native plants growing on the hillside and the contractor pulled out their remains. The area faces east on an open freshwater bay. Close to...
view the full question and answer

Trees for clay soil from Charlotte TX
August 25, 2013 - We have an area in our yard that even Esperanzas won't grow. It is near another that does great. Six Esperanzas are planted in a north/south row about with 10' between plants, the southern most plan...
view the full question and answer

Help with composting in Katy TX
March 19, 2010 - I've gone on line and tried to figure out what I'm doing wrong with my compost pile. What exactly is the proper ratio, and the types of plant matter and layers to achieve the optimum decomposition i...
view the full question and answer

Soil for Emory Oak from Dripping Springs, TX
April 15, 2012 - I bought an Emory Oak today at the Wildflower Center's plant sale. Upon reading about it when I got home, I see "it won't grow in alkaline soils." I was hoping to plant it in the riparian area ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center