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
1 rating

Friday - July 25, 2008

From: Berlin, NH
Region: Northeast
Topic: Soils, Edible Plants, Shrubs
Title: Failure of highbush blueberry plant to produce in New Hampshire
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

One of my highbush blueberry plants completely stopped producing. What can I do to revive it?

ANSWER:

Vaccinium corymbosum (highbush blueberry) is native to New Hampshire and most cultivated blueberries are varieties or hybrids of the highbush blueberry. They are accustomed to wet to dry acid, rocky soils, and are extremely susceptible to chlorosis due to alkalinity in the soil.

Proper fertilizing of blueberries can be a little tricky. They evolved with shallow roots in low-nutrient acidic environments, and roots are easily burned by fertilizer. Yet, to get good fruit production demands fertilizer in late winter or early spring and again in late spring. One recommendation is for slow-release acid fertilizers such as those for rhododendrons and evergrees. Avoid concentrated fertilizers near the blueberries, and do not fertilize later than June. Another possibility is to use shredded hardwood bark or composted bark to mulch and shelter the roots from the cold and also to continue to add acidity to the soil, without disturbing the shallow roots for fertilizers.

Some of the stresses on blueberries that can cause reduction in production are insufficient sun, insufficient water or poor soil drainage. Young bushes need minimal trimming. Fruit is produced on second-year wood, so excessive pruning should be avoided. Most cultivars require cross-pollination with another cultivar. They are pollinated by bees, so avoid insecticides to encourage the natural bee population.

That's about all we could find that might be affecting the production of your highbush blueberry. Compare the conditions in which they are growing in your New Hampshire garden (approx. Zone 5a) and see what is wrong that you can fix.


Vaccinium corymbosum

Vaccinium corymbosum

Vaccinium corymbosum

Vaccinium corymbosum

 

 

 

 

 

More Shrubs Questions

Plants that will grow on the Connecticut coast
June 08, 2010 - I live on the coast in Connecticut and have a hard time growing plants here. I live about 1/2 mile from the beach and find that my soil is very rocky. The only plants that have done well in my yard ...
view the full question and answer

Apartment Landscaping
September 13, 2005 - I live in an apartment and have a small patch filled with rocks and an ugly plant I don't know the name of. I want to take out the existing plants and put something else in. It has to be hearty,low m...
view the full question and answer

Reason for die-back of native Mahonia repens
April 01, 2008 - I have several mahonia repens plants planted on my property. This is the third spring for them and I have noticed that they look like they might be dying out. The leaves have turned brown and are cu...
view the full question and answer

Container plant to grow in late afternoon sun
July 02, 2011 - I have a shaded brick walkway that leads to my front door. It faces west, and can get very hot late afternoon Houston sun, although it is shaded for the remainder of the day. I have been successful ...
view the full question and answer

Yellow leaves on non-native pittisporum in Wharton TX
March 17, 2009 - Green pittisporum that I planted 2 years ago and 1 year ago are getting a lot of yellow leaves. Variegated pittisporum that I planted at the same 2 times are doing fine.
view the full question and answer

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