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Mr. Smarty Plants - Blueberry bushes failing to leaf out in Haines Falls, NY

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Thursday - June 25, 2009

From: Brooklyn, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Pests, Shrubs
Title: Blueberry bushes failing to leaf out in Haines Falls, NY
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Blueberry bushes planted in spring in upstate New York; no leaves, only the stem. How do we know if they are alive? Blueberries do very well in that area known as Haines Falls, New York (mountain area).

ANSWER:

There are four plants native to New York with "blueberry" in their common names:

Vaccinium angustifolium (lowbush blueberry)

Vaccinium caespitosum (dwarf bilberry)

Vaccinium corymbosum (highbush blueberry)

Vaccinium uliginosum (bog blueberry)

Of these, Vaccinium angustifolium (lowbush blueberry) and Vaccinium corymbosum (highbush blueberry) are found growing in Greene County, NY, where Haines Falls is located. 

In answer to your question, how do you know if they are alive, do the thumbnail test. Scratch a thin layer off the bark of the branches. If there is a thin layer of green beneath that, the bush is alive. Work your way down from branch tips until you find some green. If you don't, as late in the year as it is, the plant is dead. The only indication we found on these plants that might explain leaflessness is that they are favorites of browsers, which probably would be deer in that part of the state. Deer generally won't browse stickery plants, but they would probably have no problem in nipping off fresh green leaves.


Vaccinium angustifolium

Vaccinium corymbosum

 

 

 

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