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Hi I'm having major issues with my blueberry bushes. I had three in a large planter and they fruited last year just fine. The third one randomly dried up and died a couple of months ago, now one of the others looks Ill and possibly the other one. When the first one died I stripped out all of the soil and replaced it with fresh erecacius soil, I made sure the roots were sprayed off and looking ok before I put them in the new soil. They looked to be fine for a month and then the bush on the right flowers / fruit went all purple and leaves started to fall off. Iv only watered with rain water, not fertilised it, it's had new compost a month or so ago, really can't work out what's wrong with them. enter image description here enter image description here

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Here is a video of the plant : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNuQ7ZzkoHI

  • Definitely not looking good Iain. A few questions: Is this ericaceous soil from your garden? Do you know the pH of this soil? And you transplanted these with new soil even washing the soil from the roots a few months ago? What kind of compost did you add, did you mix it into this soil? Have you ever fertilized these shrubs? All plants need fertilizer. The transplanting and washing the roots off was stressful and not having the proper chemicals to photosynthesize makes for a very weakened plant susceptible to disease and insects. What zone do you live? – stormy May 27 '17 at 18:26
  • Lots of photos, but none of what I really want to see - the pot or container these are growing in, can you add one please? – Bamboo May 27 '17 at 18:51
  • Added new photos and also a video – Iain Simpson May 27 '17 at 21:11
  • That's hardly a large planter for one plant let alone three. – Graham Chiu Feb 22 '18 at 2:58
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Here are one or two possibilities. Blueberry scorch or shock viruses. When you are able to answer the questions I've asked in my first comment we'll be able to ID more closely. This link I've sent looks like the pictures of your blueberry and by what you've told us might just be correct.

You said you used ericaceous soil for that planter. I am assuming you got soil from your garden where blueberries or ericaceous plants were grown. That just might have been the problem. Virus, even other disease vectors would be present in that soil. Using garden soil in pots and that includes planters is just a bad idea. In the large body of garden soil we've no idea what is in the soil dug up to put in the pot or planter. In the large body of garden soil are 'controls' that will never be found in that soil after removed to be placed in a pot.

Lots of plants, if they are healthy because they are fertilized properly, watered properly, have great drainage would be able to fight some diseases. But yours sound as if they suffered some major stress and might have been made more susceptible to disease as I've said earlier.

Your reaction was actually an excellent reaction. To get rid of the soil and wash the roots. If you had used sterilized potting soil in the original planting (usually on the acidic side any way) that would have made a difference. But a virus is tiny tiny tiny and washing the roots wouldn't have helped because your plant would already have been infected. Fungus is the same way, there are a few blueberry blights that could also be culpable.

I don't think your shrubs will make it but no harm in trying. blue berry scorch virus Check out these pictures. I am amazed that all these pictures look like any and all diseases lumped together! Then there is 'shock' and that again looks like your blueberries. shock and scorch There are preventative measures which would mean doing something before infection. Shoot. Wait to hear from Bamboo. Please send more pictures; including standing back to give us a picture of the planter and shrubs. Tell us more about the soil you've used, especially the first planting. What was grown, why you believe it is 'ericaceous' soil and what you've added; what kind of compost, fertilizer. Did you install gravel or rock at the bottom of the planter before putting soil in the planter (not good for drainage)? You do have drainage holes, correct?

If you've got great drainage in those planters water will not be a factor. Blueberries are essentially bog plants and love low pH and lots of water. With what little I know right now, I would be getting rid of those plants, the soil, bleaching that planter and planning to replant with plants that are not in the ericaceous family. Wait for another answer however, okay? Have you grown blueberries before in your garden or is this a newly adopted garden soil from a previous owner?

  • It's ericaceous compost from a garden centre, it's fresh out of a bag and not from the garden. I'm guessing they don't have such a thing in America ?. It says it's used for blueberries and acid loving plants on the bag and it's what the garden centre said to use. The orginal stuff was that too. – Iain Simpson May 27 '17 at 20:26
  • Well good job, Iain. Do you have that bag, still? Does it say it is sterilized compost? Or where it came from? If you've used sterilized soil/compost, then we've got a bit more detective work to do. Go find that bag and let us know what it says... – stormy May 27 '17 at 20:31
  • We have all kinds of potting soils and compost. I worry about the composts because they are notorious for being made from home owner debris which include pesticide residues, heavy metals that kind of thing. Was both the soil and compost sterilized? – stormy May 27 '17 at 20:33
  • Send a picture of the entire plant and planter. Tell me more about how you planted your planter, drainage holes and the like. – stormy May 27 '17 at 20:35
  • Do the pictures I sent look similar? – stormy May 27 '17 at 20:36
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This is actually grey mould caused by the fungus Botrytus cinerea. It affects many ornamental plants and fruits, especially berries.

In fruits, it usually enters the plant through the blossoms in spring and lay there unnoticed until fruits start to develop. As fruit develop and sugar content gets higher and higher combined with high humidity, it spreads very quickly. And in your case, lead to brown rot. This is especially true for gooseberries, strawberries and blueberries.

I am sorry to say that there’s no chemical solutions for amateur gardeners. You can cut out all infected material and hope that the sclerotia of the fungus haven’t spread(airborne spores released by fungus). You need to reduce humidity and have good hygiene to avoid spread.

It would also be interesting to know how you water your plants. Do you spray foliage or do you water straight to the roots? The latter is the way to water for most plants.

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