X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Need advice on repotting my first blueberry plant, and finding it a friend

    My initial (wrong) impression was that growing blueberries was more work than they were worth, and I never tried to grow them before this year because I didn't want the bother of figuring out how to acidify the soil, and buy yet another fertilizer for just one kind of fruit.

    That said, my partner loves blueberries and we are enjoying the feeling that we can grow just about anything we want in the garden. Blueberries are pretty expensive to buy on a regular basis so, eh, why not? Around his birthday, I got him a Sunshine Blue Dwarf plant and left it for him as sort of the equivalent of a birthday bouquet of flowers for a man. It's done very well in its one gallon pot of whatever soil it came with, but now it's gotten very root-bound and I'm planning to pot it up soon. I'm reluctant to splurge on potting mixes and fertilizers just for one or two plants so I was wondering if I could MacGyver up a good potting soil and fertilizer with what I already have. I have four questions, would appreciate any advice you can offer. Again, my preference is to see if I can use what I already have. It's already kind of ridiculous how much space the existing gardening stuff is taking up.

    1. For up-potting, can anyone recommend a good acidic potting recipe, preferably based on materials I already have (below)?
    I have peat, perlite, ProMix HP potting mix, OSH potting soil, compost, dolomite (probably not needing this), and assorted mulches. I've read that adding vinegar to the water can help, and adding peat to anything will help to acidify the soil.

    2. The plant is fruiting now, is it risky to up-pot now or should I wait until it's gone dormant?

    3. For fertilizer, I have Osmocote, Floralicious Plus, orchid food, 14-0-0, and a few others. Are any of these acceptable and how often should I fertilize?

    4. I've read on this forum that having another variety to cross-pollinate would be beneficial. I'm thinking about getting this first plant a friend. Based on the ripening chart, I see that Emerald, Jubilee, and Southmoon have similar fruiting periods in the low-chill selection. I live in zone 8b, so I'm thinking this is probably what I'm looking for. Anyone have a particular recommendation among these?

    Many thanks!

    Sarah
    Bay Area, CA (zone: 9B)

  • #2
    I usually concoct my own mix with what I have on hand for blueberries. But I also water with sulfuric acid which makes up for a multitude of sins. I would suggest you use a good % of peat in your mix.

    As for timing, I'd wait till it's finished fruiting, then you can move it up into a larger pot. If you waited till winter, you could rough up the root ball some, but that is a long time to wait. After you do transplant, if it's in warm weather, put it in the shade for awhile. After fruiting is also the best time to do a bit of pruning, so that might help too. Though your plant is small so you may not want to take off too much.

    For fertilizing, I fertilized often, but with a weak dissolved solution of Ammonium sulfate, and often some miracle grow for trace elements. This is in the dilute sulfuric acid solution. (That is permanent compared to vinegar) And in our current drought, I've had to up the per cent of acid because of the bad water quality we have in Calif now.

    If you buy another plant, check out the chill hour requirements. All the ones you mention probably would do in your area, but that's just a guess. I have both Emerald and Southmoon and like them both.
    SoCal, zone 10.
    www.ourfigs.com Invite your friends.

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks for the advice, Gina! Those three varieties I mentioned were listed as low-chill and possibilities for my area. They also fruit around the same time as Sunshine.

      When I was searching to see if anyone had already posted answers to my kind of questions, I saw that there were mixed reviews on Emerald, and all you blueberry aficionados seem to universally love a variety called Sweetcrisp (?). I checked the chart Pete posted on another thread for beginners to see if Sweetcrisp would be a good companion pollenizer for the Sunshine Blue (and check its chill reqs) but it's not listed.
      http://www.fallcreeknursery.com/asse...art_poster.pdf
      This one also sounds hard to come by (couldn't find many commercial growers, at least for CA), and I'm not sure if it'd be compatible for this area. Anyone know? If I'm going to get a second plant (and stop after that, unlike with figs!) ideally it'd be a crisp and not mealy or squishy type, but I'm not familiar with blueberry varieties.

      A more immediate question is this, any quantitative recommendations for a potting mix and fertilizer, without having to buy more soil amendments? As a starting point, I was considering this as a rough recipe:

      80% ProMix HP (which is already 85% peat/15% perlite)
      15% additional peat since you suggest lots of peat will help lower pH
      5% compost

      Water with dilute white vinegar (2 Tbsp/gal) weekly to maintain acidity. Fertilize when needed with azalea & rhodendron fertilizer diluted in the dilute vinegar, either Jobe's or MG brand (we inherited both from a previous tenant). I've heard that these are also suitable for other acid-loving plants like blueberries.

      Does this all sound reasonable, or would you suggest otherwise?

      Sarah
      Sarah
      Bay Area, CA (zone: 9B)

      Comment


      • #4
        Well, Dave Wilson has an official recommended blueberry potting recipe:
        • 1/3 1/4" pathway bark
        • 1/3 peat moss
        • 1/3 forest-byproduct-based potting soil (azalea mix or acid plant mix)
        • 1 handful of soil sulfur per plant

        To make it, I need to just buy sulfur. Is there any big difference in sulfur pellets vs. powder in the suitability of the mix?

        Among the low-chill varieties compatible for my zone, I've seen good reviews of Star and Jewel, and mixed reviews here on Emerald and Southmoon. Can anyone recommend a good online or local source for Star or Jewel blueberry plants? I've checked and unfortunately neither one is available at my go-to local nurseries.
        Sarah
        Bay Area, CA (zone: 9B)

        Comment


        • #5
          I don't know which is more effective, but I prefer the sulfur pellets because they are easier to use.

          Here in my part of Socal, Star just doesn't get enough chill hours to be reliable. It also tends to not fruit as much as other varieties. Jewel is a workhorse - very productive with attractive, easy to pick berries. Not my favorite however because for my taste buds, it's not very sweet. Emerald and Southmoon are two of my favorites (but not everyone's), and if they don't do well in your area...

          Finding them might be a challenge this time of year. If you can't find them locally, getting them from out if state may be a problem. You'll have to look around and see if anyone will send them into California. If you find a source, post it here for feedback. I think Florida Hills does, but it has very bad reputation. It depends how desperate you are to get them.
          SoCal, zone 10.
          www.ourfigs.com Invite your friends.

          Comment


          • #6
            Thanks again, Gina. It's not a matter of desperation, more that it just occurred to me that the blueberry needs to be potted up soon and since it did so well this first year, I'd like to see how to make next year's harvest even better.

            I was able to pre-order at one of the local nurseries, so I'll pick them up whenever they're available, though probably won't be til next spring!
            Sarah
            Bay Area, CA (zone: 9B)

            Comment


            • #7
              Rather than 'Pathway bark' I'd use Western bark or pine bark. Both are naturally acidic and will last longer than other barks. I use something like 45% pine bark, 45% peat moss and 10% compost.
              Bob C.
              Kansas City, MO Z6

              Comment


              • #8
                Interesting. Do you still amend with sulfur when using a higher amount of bark and peat?
                Sarah
                Bay Area, CA (zone: 9B)

                Comment

                Working...
                X