Blueberry bushes Prefer acidic soil. Acidic soil is defined as anything with a pH of 7 or lower. Blueberry bushes prefer the pH to be between 4.5 and 5. The pH value of soil can affect a particular plants ability to access the nutrients in the soil. So if the soil is not acidic, your blueberry bush may not thrive.
The soil is normally tested prior to planting. Any alterations that need to be made are done a year before planting. But what if you didn’t know that or you recently purchased property with blueberry bushes and the previous owner didn’t know that? What can you do to change the pH value once the blueberry bush is established?
Get a Soil Test
If you suspect the pH might be wrong for your bush, take a soil sample. Home test kits or your local extension office can provide you with the actual data you need. The extension office may also make recommendations on what you can do to alter the pH using locally available materials. The extension office test will also reveal any other soil deficiencies which may be useful to know.
Low pH Results
If the results indicate your pH is too low, which is seldom the case, you will need to add lime. If your soil is sandy in makeup, use 1000 pounds per ac re. If it is muck, then add 4000 pounds per acre. This should be side dressed along the blueberry bushes on both sides. Keep this about 12 inches away from the base of the bushes. Work into the top soil gently so as not to disturb roots.
High pH Results
If your pH results are 5.5 or higher, elemental sulphur should be added. Here however it is important to follow the soil test recommendations as the amount varies widely depending on the type of soil.
Moving the Plants
If the plants are surviving but simply not growing or producing, another option may be to move the plants to site that has been prepared. Start in the spring or fall and make the soil modifications necessary to bring the soil pH into the desired range. Then the following spring, before bud break, carefully dig up the bushes and move them to the new site. Try to keep the roots intact as much as possible.
Stages of Blueberry Growth
Everything You Need to Know About Fertilizing a Blueberry Bush
How to Dehydrate Blueberries
Michigan State University Extension: Hints on Growing Blueberries
Michigan State University Extension Van Buren: Managing Nutrition of Blueberry Bushes