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Are Your Blueberry Leaves Turning Red? (7 Possible Causes)

Are Your Blueberry Leaves Turning Red? (7 Possible Causes)

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Blueberry plants tend to be pretty hardy and can generally survive through many conditions that most other plants will not tolerate, and you get delicious berries from them, so who wouldn’t want to keep them. But these plants can be affected by various conditions too.

Here are the reasons why your blueberry leaves are turning red.

Reasons why your blueberry leaves are turning red:

  1. Interveinal red blueberry leaves
  2. Phosphorous deficiency
  3. Red-spotted leaves
  4. Cold exposure
  5. Viral and fungal infections in blueberry plants
  6. General nutrient deficiency in blueberry plants
  7. Wrong soil pH level for blueberry plants

Some of these conditions if the plant’s leaves can be serious and may even mean you need to get rid of your blueberry plant so that you can save your other plants.

Keep reading to find out if you can fix some of these problems and which ones you cannot fix.

Why Would Blueberry Leaves Turn Red?

One day, you may have noticed as you were walking pasted your blueberry plants that the leaves were turning or were already completely red. Should this be something you need to be concerned about, or is this normal for a blueberry plant?

Let us go over the leading causes for this color change and when you should be worried about your plant’s health.

1 – Interveinal Red Blueberry Leaves

Blueberry Plant Leaves with Red Veins

If you look at your blueberry plant and the veins on the plant’s leaves are turning red, this can indicate that the blueberry plant has a magnesium deficiency.

Suppose your blueberry bushes are not getting enough magnesium, either due to a lack of the mineral in the soil or the blueberry bush being unable to absorb it. In that case, the blueberry plant will reduce its chlorophyll production.

The chlorophyll in the blueberry’s leaves is what gives the leaves their lovely green color. The veins of the blueberry plant’s leaves will start to turn yellow first and will then fade into a red color.

Magnesium deficiencies can lead to many diseases in your Blueberry plant that are incurable and can easily spread to other blueberry bushes. Hence, you need to treat it as soon as you can.

2 – Phosphorous Deficiency in Your Blueberry Plant

If you have a closer look at your blueberry plant leaves in the spring, and they are between a maroon and red color, this could indicate that your blueberry plant has a Phosphorous deficiency.

Blueberries require a high acidity level in their soil to thrive and produce good-quality blueberries of a larger quantity. However, this pH level needs to be watched closely and maintained well because if the pH level gets too high, the blueberry plant cannot absorb enough Phosphorous.

Similarly, if the pH level is too low, the blueberry plant cannot absorb the Phosphorous it needs to thrive. Both of these scenarios can cause the plant to have a Phosphorous deficiency. This deficiency can weaken the blueberry plant and leave it susceptible to illnesses.

3 – Red Spotted Leaves

If you look closer at the leaves of your blueberry plant and the leaves are not completely red but have red spots all over them, this can be an indication that your blueberry plant has a virus called The Red Ringspot.

The red spots on the blueberry plant’s leaves will be most visible in the summer when the leaves turn a pale green, as this will make the red stand out. This disease does not have a sure, and it cannot be treated.

This is a fast-spreading disease that can take over your entire field of blueberry plants in a matter of days. This is why this disease is the worst nightmare of many blueberry farmers who grow blueberries for commercial sale.

4 – Cold Exposure

Blueberry Plant with Frost

The new, young leaves that the blueberry bush will grow in the spring after losing its leaves in the winter are typically colored with a red ting as they are still growing.

But generally, as the leaves begin to grow and mature, establishing themselves on the bush, this red ting should start to fade, and the leaves should start exhibiting a bright, uniformed green hue.

Blueberries are typically quite cold-weather hardy, and they tend to grow comfortably in the U.S Department of Agricultures designated plant hardiness zones two all the way through to eight.

However, if there is an unseasonably cold front that causes the temperatures to drop extremely low, this can cause the blueberry’s leaves to go red or even purple.

This can lead to other problems with your blueberry plant if they are left in these cold temperatures or if the temperature drops even lower. This could make your blueberry bush lose its leaves and possibly even die.

5 – Viral and Fungal Infections in Blueberry Plants

Unfortunately, blueberry bushes are prone to a wide variety of diseases caused by viruses, bacteria, and fungus that can begin to grow on the plant. These infections are generally only a huge cause for concern with commercial blueberry growers as they have many plants that are at risk of getting infected by these illnesses.

But these can be a concern for home blueberry growers, too, as these diseases can affect the fruit production of the plant or even the fruit itself. Several diseases can cause the leaves of the blueberry bush to become red mottled or splotchy.

Some of these may even cause the leaves to split and look burned at the margins of leaves. One of the most common afflictions that blueberries can get is Phomopsis twig blight, which is caused by a fungus that will first infect the lower branches of the bush before spreading upwards.

Then there is also blueberry leaf scorch, a viral infection that can cause the areas around the veins of the leaves to turn red. These can be transmitted from plant to plant, and they can easily be misdiagnosed, making them challenging to control.

6 – General Nutrient Deficiency in Blueberry Plants

Wild Blueberry Plant with Red Leaves

When the soil of your blueberries lacks certain nutrients, the plant’s leaves can begin to turn red. This will not only occur when phosphorus or magnesium is deficient, but it can happen if there is a general nutrient deficiency in the soil too.

This may not just be a deficiency in the blueberries soil, but there may be a problem with the blueberry plant’s ability to absorb the nutrients from the soil that are there.

One of the main causes for this general nutrient deficiency in the blueberry plant is a lack of good fertilization practices, or your soil may be waterlogged, which is inhibiting the plants’ ability to take in all the nutrients it needs to thrive in your garden.

7 – Wrong Soil PH Level for Blueberry Plants

As previously mentioned, if the soil that your blueberry plant is planted in does not have the right pH level, then this can cause a problem for your blueberry plant. Blueberries require acidic soil to thrive.

The soil’s acidity needs to be between 4.5 and 5.0, and if the pH level goes lower or higher than this, the plant can begin to suffer in various ways. Not only will the plant struggle to absorb Phosphorous from the soil, but it will also affect the absorption of all other essential nutrients for the plant.

This can lead to a general nutrient deficiency that can weaken the blueberry plant, leaving it open and susceptible to various diseases and infections. All of which can turn the leaves of your blueberry plant red.

How to Fix Red Blueberry Leaves

Close Up of Blueberry Plant with Leaves Turning Red

Now that we know what may have caused the leaves of your blueberry plant to turn red, we can now go over the possible ways in which you can fix these problems and get your plant back to prime health. Let us have a look at the fixes:

Disease Treatment Options

Before you begin any disease treatment for your blueberry plants that you think may be infected with a virus, fungus, or disease, you should first take a sample of the blueberry bush with leaves attached and place it into a zip-lock bag.

Then you should take this blueberry sample to a local university extension office and get them to diagnose the problem. This will help you figure out precisely what is going on with your blueberry plant.

There are many viruses and fungi that cause the same symptoms to appear in your plant, so it is essential to know which one you are dealing with. Some diseases, like Phomopsis blight, can be treated with a diluted lime-sulfur sprayed on newly forming leaves.

But other diseases are not treatable; for example, any virus, like blueberry scorch, is not treatable.

Increase The Soils PH Level

Coffee Grounds

To help your blueberry plant absorb enough Phosphorous from the soil, along with other essential nutrients, you need to keep the soil’s pH level within the blueberry plant’s preferred range. You can conduct a soil test to find out the soil’s pH level.

If the pH level is low, you add some coffee grounds, dried leaves, peat moss, pine bark mulch, or composted manure to your blueberries soil, as these will help raise the pH level to the right level and keep your blueberry plants happy.

Increase Magnesium in the Soil

If your blueberry plant leaves are turning red due to a magnesium deficiency, then you can try to increase the magnesium in the plant’s soil. A great way to add some magnesium into the soil fast to relieve the pressure on your plant is to use Epsom salt.

Epsom salt is a lovely naturally occurring compound that contains sulfur, magnesium, and oxygen. These compounds are needed for healthy plant growth, especially the magnesium that helps the plant produce its chlorophyll.

But a magnesium deficiency can also affect the way the blueberry plant absorbs other nutrients, which can negatively affect the plant’s growth and the fruit. So, just buy some Epsom salt and mix it into the first layer of topsoil around your plant.

Remove the Blueberry Plant

There are some instances where the blueberry plant is not viable and cannot be saved due to an incurable infectious disease. Unfortunately, when this is the case, you will need to remove the plant and destroy it before the infection spreads and contaminates all of your blueberry plants.

This is a worst-case scenario and should not be the first conclusion that you jump to until you get confirmation from a professional. Remember that several conditions will present the same symptoms, and this scenario is only the conclusion for one of them.

Fertilize Blueberry Plants Correctly

Adding Fertilizer to Blueberry Bush

To help avoid your blueberry plant leaves turning red, you need to ensure that the plant has the right nutrition so that it does not suffer from a general nutrient deficiency that could affect multiple aspects of the plant’s lifecycle.

Fertilization is an essential aspect of keeping your blueberry plants in pots, as they will only receive nutrients from what you add to their soil. You need to ensure you give your blueberry plant a well-balanced fertilizer at least once a month during its growing season.

Fix Waterlogged Soil

If your blueberry plant’s soil is waterlogged, the plant will have difficulty absorbing the nutrients it needs to survive. This can lead to a general nutrient deficiency that will cause the plant’s leaves to turn red.

This will occur no matter the level of nutrients in the plant’s soil. To fix this problem and help the plant get back to normal, you need to fix the plant’s soil.

To do this, you need to either repot your blueberry plant or fix the soil while the plant is still in it; either way is manageable. To replant the plant, you need to find well-draining soil that has peat moss in as this will help drain the soil, and it will help with the soil’s pH level.

To fix the plant’s soil while it is still in it, you need to carefully mix some peat moss or perlite into the soil. You need to avoid hitting the plant’s roots, but you need to get close enough to the roots to ensure you drain the water.

Keep the Blueberry Plant Warm

Protecting Blueberry Bushes from Cold Weather with Covers

One of the reasons why a blueberry plant’s leaves will turn red is that the plant is exposed to extremely cold temperatures. The blueberry plant is a hardy plant, but it cannot handle extreme temperatures in either direction.

So, to help your plant recover from the cold and to prevent the color change in the leaves from happening again, you need to keep the plant at a constantly warm temperature. If you are comfortable in the temperature without a jacket, then this should be perfectly fine for the blueberry plant.

Final Thoughts

When your blueberry plant’s leaves turn red, this is not always a cause for concern, but there are a few instances where you need to be worried as the plant may be developing an incurable disease.

But when this color change happens, you should never panic; instead, look for the cause as it may be easily fixable. Good luck with your blueberry plant!