Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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 Shade Tolerant Questions

Native violets under maples from Gettysburg PA
July 06, 2012 - Just for your info (no need to post or reply), I saw an old post of a question of something to grow under maples. In central PA, native violets grow very well under several species of maples in lawns...
view the full question and answer

Native flowers and ground cover for damp, shady area in Wisconsin
May 11, 2006 - I would like to plant some flowers and ground cover in the front of my yard near my home. This spot is usually damp and nearly always shaded. Any suggestions? Also I'm looking for blue flowering pla...
view the full question and answer

Shade-loving native plants for South Carolina
January 08, 2008 - I am looking to incorporate a native plants section in my backyard. Shade seems to be a limiting factor in some parts, especially where I would look to create a natural hedge bordering my neighbor's...
view the full question and answer

Turks cap not blooming in Austin
June 03, 2008 - Why is my Turks Cap not blooming? It gets about an hour of sun in the morning, then shade for the rest of the day. It gets watered with the sprinkler system that waters our lawn.
view the full question and answer

Plants for under live oak in Houston
July 09, 2011 - Hi, We have a live oak in our back garden in Houston and would like to plant a combination of some native shrubs and flowers near it (preferably perennial). The garden bed is about 4 metres from the...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.