It’s no secret that blueberries are incredibly tasty. Taking care of blueberry plants in your garden is a lot of fun because you get to look forward to harvesting delicious blueberries at some point.
In order to be able to do this, you need to care for the blueberries properly. If something goes awry with the plants, then they might not make it long enough to produce berries or to ripen.
You might be very concerned if you notice that the leaves on the blueberry plants are turning yellow or brown. This isn’t typically a normal thing that you’ll see unless something is wrong.
Why would this be happening to your blueberry plants? Can anything be done to turn things around?
Below, you’ll find information about why blueberry leaves might turn yellow or brown. This should help you to figure out what’s happening in your situation so that you can take the necessary steps to fix things.
Not Growing Blueberries in the Right Environment
There’s a possibility that the issues you’re experiencing are due to planting blueberries in the wrong environment. You see, blueberries will differ depending on the cultivar that you’re using.
Some blueberries are meant to be grown in warmer regions while others will thrive in slightly cooler regions. Before planting blueberry plants, it’s going to be wise to get information about the specific cultivar that you’re using.
This ensures that you will have the right knowledge to make good choices. Some plants simply won’t be suited to your area.
Each blueberry plant will have a recommended USDA zone. For instance, if you live in a warmer region such as the southeastern United States, it’ll be better to plant something such as rabbiteye blueberries.
Northern highbush blueberries are best when you’re living in the cooler Northern regions of America. Pick a blueberry type that suits your area.
If you planted a cultivar that isn’t meant for your area, then you might notice leaf discoloration. You might see that the leaves will become brown simply because the weather in the area isn’t right for the blueberry plants that you decided to go with.
Did you make sure that you’re using the right soil for blueberry plants? If you aren’t planting the blueberries in acidic soil, then you’re not going to get good results.
When you plant blueberry plants in soil that has an improper pH balance, it will cause the leaves to turn yellow. The leaves might eventually turn brown over time if you don’t try to fix things.
Thankfully, it’s possible to amend the soil so that it will have the right acidity. You’re first going to need to test the soil to see what the current pH level is.
Next, you’re going to need to take steps to get the pH balance to somewhere between 4.5 and 5.5. If the soil isn’t acidic enough for your blueberry plants, then they’ll suffer due to not being able to absorb iron properly.
When you’re amending the soil, it’s recommended to use elemental sulfur. This is a great natural way to lower the pH levels to the range that you need them to be in.
You should continue to test the soil each year so that you can keep the proper pH balance. Failure to do so will cause the blueberry plants to encounter the same issue again.
Not Watering the Blueberries Enough
Not watering the blueberries enough could easily cause the leaves to turn brown. You might notice that the leaves will start looking dry if you haven’t watered them in a long time.
It isn’t unheard of to see the leaves start to turn yellow either. You might notice the leaves will appear yellow if you’re going through a drought and you haven’t been manually watering the plants to compensate.
Another sign to look out for is the blueberries drying up. The berries themselves will start to look dry and shriveled if you aren’t watering the plants correctly.
In fact, the blueberries will begin shriveling before the leaves on the plant start turning brown. You might notice issues with the berries before you see signs of the leaves changing colors.
This just drives home the point that it’s imperative to water blueberry plants the right way. You need to ensure that the plants are getting enough water or you’ll never get to harvest those delicious blueberries.
Understand that blueberries are not tolerant of droughts. If you don’t take steps to keep the soil moist at all times, then they won’t do well.
Try to remember to check the soil so that you can see how the plants are doing. If the soil is starting to get a bit dry, then you should water them.
Some people who grow blueberries will set up an automatic system to ensure that the plants get enough water. This can be good, but you will run the risk of watering the shrubs too much if you’re not careful.
If you want to do things safely, then you should just check the blueberries by hand as often as possible. Water the blueberries manually using a standard watering can.
Blueberry bushes need a lot of water each day. This does mean that you’ll need to put in a lot of work.
Setting up a drip line system might be the best way to do things if you’re growing many blueberry bushes in rows. You’ll just want to learn how to time things right so that you don’t water the shrubs more than you should.
Having Issues with Chemicals
Sometimes blueberries will experience issues when they’re exposed to certain chemicals. You might use herbicides or certain types of insecticides to protect your plants from harm.
This can actually cause you to have problems with your blueberry plants, though. You see, when the blueberries come into contact with the chemicals, it can cause them to have their leaves turn yellow.
Often, this will look as though the leaves have been bleached. Eventually, you might see the margins of the leaves start to darken, and the entire leaf could begin to brown over time.
Always be careful when you choose to use herbicides to battle weeds. It might not be worth it to do so when you know that it can harm your blueberry plants.
You might have better luck using natural ideas to get rid of weeds. For example, you could place a weed barrier down or you could try using mulch of some sort.
Disease and Pest Issues
Finally, you should know that disease and pest issues can cause blueberry leaves to change colors. You’ll want to do the best that you can to protect your plants from problems such as this.
There are quite a few different plant diseases that could impact blueberry bushes. Fungal infections are somewhat common and they can cause all sorts of problems.
Botrytis blight is a very troublesome fungal infection that will turn the blueberry leaves brown. If you don’t take care of this situation, then the plant might not even survive.
Depending on the type of disease that the plant has, it might not be possible to save the blueberry bush. Typically, the best option is to prevent diseases from happening in the first place.
You can avoid fungal infections by being careful when watering the plants. Never water the plants overhead because this creates an ideal environment for fungi to grow.
Water plants near the base and you’ll have much better luck. Try to keep this in mind every single time you’re watering the blueberries.
Pests can be just as bad for the plants, and you’ll want to watch out for some of the worst ones. The blueberry maggot is a common pest that will wreak havoc on your plants.
The most common pests that cause leaf yellowing are aphids and leafhoppers. It might be prudent to protect your plants from pests using natural sprays.
Neem oil works very well to keep pests from getting near plants. It won’t harm your plants in any way, and the pests really don’t like it.
There are so many things that can cause blueberry bushes to have their leaves turn yellow or brown. If you’re not careful, then the blueberry plants won’t be able to keep living depending on what’s wrong.
Sometimes the issues are as simple as having problems with the soil. When the soil doesn’t have enough acidity, it’s going to cause the leaves to start yellowing.
You’ll want to amend the soil so that you can get things in the right range. It’s also true that blueberry plants don’t do well when you plant them in the wrong climate.
Some blueberry cultivars are meant for cooler regions while others will thrive in slightly warmer regions. Ensure that the blueberry plants that you purchased are appropriate for the region of the world that you live in.
Chemical exposure can cause plants to have their leaves turn yellow or brown, too. You might have used herbicide to get rid of weeds and this negatively impacted your blueberries.
Disease and pest issues can be a real problem as well. You can protect blueberries from pests using natural treatments such as neem oil.
You should try to take steps to prevent fungal diseases. Avoid watering blueberry plants from the top so that you won’t create an environment where fungi will grow.
So long as you make good choices, it should be possible to have thriving blueberry bushes. Be careful to water the plants well and you’ll be able to enjoy delicious blueberries when the time is right.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.