Most of the time, the soil is to blame when blueberry bushes don’t do well in the garden. If the soil pH for blueberries is too high, it doesn’t get what it needs to grow.
Therefore, you should take the right steps to test the soil levels. If you notice it’s too high, lower it to see a big difference in the growth levels of your bushes.
Table of Contents
How to Lower Soil pH for Your Blueberries
Some gardeners have never had to change the soil pH for their crops and now must. If that’s you, here are the ways to do it:
Test the Soil Level for Blueberries
It’s important to test the soil. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if it’s a new blueberry bush or an established one. You want to improve its performance.
In most areas, the soil pH is too high for blueberries. Therefore, you can test it to find out how high it is. This ensures that you know how much work the soil needs to grow the blueberries well.
The best pH level for blueberry soil is between four and five. If the soil is higher than that, you should take the appropriate steps to lower it correctly.
New Plantings – Soil Preparation for Your Blueberry Plant
After testing, you might notice that the soil pH is too high. The best way to remedy the situation is to add some granular sulfur to it. You need one pound of the sulfur for every 50 feet of the garden.
However, be aware that this only lowers the level by one point. With that, you must work the sulfur into the ground well. Some people choose to till it in to get the best results.
It’s often best to add the granular sulfur to your soil about three months before it’s time to plant the blueberries. This lets the sulfur mix thoroughly with the soil and becomes established.
If you don’t have granular sulfur and don’t want to buy it, there are other methods. For example, some people prefer organic options.
Use some acid peat and/or coffee grounds instead. You must work about 4 to 6 inches of the coffee grounds/peat into the soil for the best results. Most people pour the right amount onto the ground and then work it in with a tiller or another tool.
Existing Plants – Lowering Soil pH
Regardless of how well you prepare the soil for your blueberry plant, it might not be enough. You may live in a location where the soil is more acidic by nature. Therefore, the pH levels can go back to their previous levels within a few years.
It’s important to maintain that lower pH level for your blueberries. With that, you should check the soil pH every time you plant something. That way, you know that it is ideal for your plants.
If you’ve already got blueberry plants growing and they aren’t doing well, there are many methods to lower the soil’s pH. With that, you can use these options if you’ve already adjusted it in the past.
While coffee grounds and peat are still suitable here, there are various other options. They include:
Fertilizer and Mulch
Some gardeners claim that they never fertilize their plants. However, if you notice that the blueberry bushes aren’t growing, it might be time to do so.
Make sure that you use an acidic fertilizer for your blueberries. This can change or maintain the soil’s pH levels with time. Look for products that have sulfur-coated urea, ammonium, sulfate, or ammonium nitrate.
As the months go by, the soil is leached of its nutrients. This can raise the pH levels. Therefore, consider adding mulch around each of the bushes.
That ensures that the plants get the water and nutrients they need. With that, the mulch protects those areas and reduces the risk of weeds popping up. Weeds can also change the pH levels of the soil with time.
Almost any type of mulch works. However, most people use pine needles. If you don’t have that option, consider straw, small wood chips, or anything else.
When you go to any nursery or plant shop, you can find different types of soil and mixes. One is called amendment mix, and it’s readily available online and in more stores.
Look for one that is made specifically for azaleas or gardenias. Use it according to the package label for the best results. You are sure to see that the pH level lowers within a few days.
If you plan to use this without other methods, make sure that you re-test the soil pH levels every month or so. Otherwise, you run the risk of over-amending or not doing it often enough.
Diluted white vinegar is another way to lower the soil pH for blueberries. However, this isn’t something you should use all the time.
In a sense, this is a quick-fix option. That way, you can get it lowered quickly while you figure out a long-term solution. It’s very easy to do.
You need 2 tablespoons of vinegar for each gallon of water you use. Then, you just water your blueberry plants normally. Most people find that they must do it once a week.
Make sure that you only water the base of your blueberry plant. Do not get the vinegar solution on the leaves or fruit. That could make it turn sour or change the color of the fruit/plant.
Again, this solution doesn’t last very long (about a week). Therefore, you can utilize it while you buy the supplies to create a better longer lasting environment for your blueberry plants.
While sulfur works well for new plantings, you can also use it for established plants. However, expect it to take a year or longer to dramatically drop the soil’s pH levels. The granules have to break down over the surface and get to the root system of the plant.
Since they’re already in the ground, you cannot work the granules into the soil. If you do, you risk damaging the plant.
Blueberry plants require the right soil conditions, and they’re finicky. Therefore, if you don’t give them more acidic soil, they aren’t likely to grow well. Even with the extra monitoring, these bushes are fun and easy to grow.
With that, you get the payoff of having delicious, plump blueberries when the harvest season comes.
Now that you understand how to lower the soil pH for your blueberries, it should be easy to establish the bushes. From there, the plants continue to produce in more abundance, giving you plenty of fruit.
The good news is once you get the soil pH right, it’s easy to grow blueberries. They don’t need a lot of extra care and grow quite well.