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?


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


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?


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 Shade Tolerant Questions

Small evergreen shrubs for part shade in Texas
January 31, 2015 - Mr. Smarty Pants, I'm, for some reason, at odds with myself about a shrub decision. I have need about 8 ft of hedge-like evergreen shrub(s) that I can maintain around 4ft to go under a window. It...
view the full question and answer

Plants for shady courtyard classroom garden in Weatherford, TX
March 27, 2007 - I am wanting to create an outdoor classroom area in the courtyard of my school. The courtyard is enclosed by all four sides and the building is two stories high. It does not receive much sunlight. Mos...
view the full question and answer

Privacy screen from Simpsonville SC
May 04, 2013 - My neighbor cut down his part of our shared woods so now we see his whole "outside patio area". What kinds of fast growing shade loving trees and shrubs can we plant on our property line that will c...
view the full question and answer

Native trees for shade in Burbank, CA
May 13, 2009 - I need a few ideas for a non-deciduous (or nearly non-deciduous)tree that grows fast and will provide shade. Shade need not be total. Chinese Elms come to mind but I'm not sure of the growth rate. ...
view the full question and answer

What plant grows in extremely hot Texas weather in the shade in Dallas Texas?
July 30, 2009 - What plant grows in extremely hot Texas weather in the shade?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center