Blueberries in the tropics

Discussion in 'Fruit and Vegetable Gardening' started by BlueberryMania, Mar 19, 2009.

  1. BlueberryMania

    BlueberryMania Active Member

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    Hi Applenut

    Have a question. I bought 6 blueberry plants 4 (2 misty and 2 sunshine blue) from one nursery and 2 (sunshine blue) from another. From the two sunshine blue one is flowering the other one some of the buds have dried up and some are producing weak flowers. This could be due to the soil or over fertilizing. Since I just transplanted them into an acid-loving potting soil, I will wait to see.

    As for the other 4 plants, They are producing a lot of leaves and the new leaves are now a darker green as opposed to the lighter green older leaves. So my guess the plants are liking the potting soil. The problem is that I see no buds on these plants. I don't know what the problem could be? I have looked for diseases but nothing. Last week the leaves were curling up but after transplanting the leaves are looking better. However the leaf texture is different from the other 2 sunshine blue plants I received. The leaves are not a deep dark green and they are slightly rough on the edges.

    I would appreciate any help.
     
  2. Applenut

    Applenut Active Member

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    Re: apples in tropics?

    Mania:

    You're approaching the edge of my blueberry knowledge, and I suggest you pose the same question to the knowledgable growers (they bleed blue) at Garden Web's forum at http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/fruit/

    I'll be watching for it and also the replies.

    Applenut
     
  3. BlueberryMania

    BlueberryMania Active Member

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    Re: apples in tropics?

    Thanks applenut will do so right away.
     
  4. BlueberryMania

    BlueberryMania Active Member

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    Re: apples in tropics?

    Hi Applenut

    I think I may have a pest problem. Not sure but the leaves are curling up when comming out of the leaf bud. The leaves are flimsy and medium green. The stems have a bit of fuzzy appearance. Will try and put up pictures.

    The thing is that I hope my healthy plants have not also got the samething. I have written to the vendor but no reply yet.

    There are no flowers so I am thinking of using a broad spectrum insecticide?

    I am a bit demorlized but will keep trying. Thanks for your help.
     
  5. Applenut

    Applenut Active Member

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    Re: apples in tropics?

    If you can post photos to the GardenWeb I think that's your best bet of getting a diagnosis.

    Don't fret yet, this is only your first year. I killed lots of blueberries before I figured out what works best here.

    Applenut
     
  6. BlueberryMania

    BlueberryMania Active Member

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    Re: apples in tropics?

    Hi Applenut

    Well the vendor finally replied back. They insist that the plant was pest and disease free as it had a health passport. They have suggested that the plant may be adjusting to the climatic change as the climate here has induced a faster cycle. Hence the leaves are flimsy and not deep green.

    I will try and use and insecticide and go from there. Will post some pictures online over the weekend.

    Cheers
     
  7. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    BM - I can tell you from my own experience with tropical blueberries that they are much more susceptable to climatic differences than they are in North America or Europe. My first-year bushes looked terrible until they had adapted - so don't fret too much about the way they look, just let them alone and water them. Next year you should see flowers and fruit.
     
  8. BlueberryMania

    BlueberryMania Active Member

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    Thanks Lorax. I am going to leave it to be. Hopefully it will survive.

    Got a general question the ph of the tap water is very high and is driving up the ph of the plants. Any suggestions on how I can lower the ph of the water so that the plant soil maintains its ph.

    Also I am only using coco-peat as mulch, should I use something else as well?

    Thanks once again..
     
  9. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    Coir is an excellent mulch, in my experience - I wouldn't worry about that.

    You might want to experiment with either acidifying your water using something like acetic acid, or else steam-distilling it so that it's pH neutralizes.
     
  10. BlueberryMania

    BlueberryMania Active Member

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    Thanks to all for the suggestions. Will keep you posted
     
  11. BlueberryMania

    BlueberryMania Active Member

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    Hi there.

    On one of my blueberry plants (sunshine blue) I noticed that the flowers on the blueberry plants are falling off. Some are also drying (turning brown). Also there are new flowers comming up. These ones look a lot healthier. Is this normal?

    The other one the flowers are drying up and there are no new leaves or flowers.

    As for the other 4 blueberry plants no flowers yet. The plants look stressed and the ph is rising. I put some ammonium sulphate last week but I don't want to overfertilize. The stems still look fuzzy. Are they supposed to look that way?

    Any suggestions? Thanks.
     
  12. Applenut

    Applenut Active Member

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    Blueberries need acid in order to process nitrogen. If the pH is too high they starve to death, which is what yours are sounding like.

    Monitor the pH closely and keep feeding it acid until it gets down at least to 5.5.

    Applenut
     
  13. BlueberryMania

    BlueberryMania Active Member

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    Hi again.

    Would you recomend that I add a bit of cotton seed or ammonium sulphate? I know that elemental sulphur is probably the best way to lower the ph but my order will be arriving in a few weeks. I wanted a solution for the time being.

    BBM
     
  14. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    I'd go with the cotton seed, myself.
     
  15. BlueberryMania

    BlueberryMania Active Member

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    Hi again.

    I just bought some sulphur powder from an industrial chemical factory. I was wondering how much would I add to my plants and do I sprinkle it on the top or do I burry it deep in the pot. Thanks
     
  16. BlueberryMania

    BlueberryMania Active Member

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    Hi there again!

    How can you tell if the plant is water logged. We have alot of rain and the potting mix seems to retain a lot of water. I mixed some coco-peat with the potting mix before I planted but I still feel that the soil retain too much water.

    I have access to coco-peat and vermiculite but I am apprehensive about trans-planting for the third time.
    Any suggestions? Thanks
     
  17. Applenut

    Applenut Active Member

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    Your potting mix should stay moist, yet still drain freely; that's why we mix in miniature bark chips. Blueberries do have very tender, shallow roots that tear off easily, and so your transplanting concern is a valid one.

    Applenut
     
  18. BlueberryMania

    BlueberryMania Active Member

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    Thanks applenut. I add some sulfur powder and now I will just wait it out. Once I get the PH right I am hoping that everything will fall into place.

    Cheers!
     
  19. BlueberryMania

    BlueberryMania Active Member

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    Hi again.

    Well two of my sunshine blues got some berries even with the brown flowers. However the berries are smaller in size then expected. I have added some sulfur and hoping that the ph will go back down to optimum level.

    I am guessing that the flowers were / are turning brown because of the soil is too wet or because of the effects of over-fertilizing. Any ideas or suggestions!

    Thanks

    BBM
     
  20. BlueberryMania

    BlueberryMania Active Member

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    Hi there again.

    Its been a while. Do you know if sunshine blue needs a pollinator? If so which one would you suggest I should get?

    Thanks
    BBM
     
  21. Applenut

    Applenut Active Member

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    Pollination hasn't been a problem at all here, with just about every flower cluster setting a berry.

    I was reading a report on growing temperate fruits in Kenya, and it mentions one of the problems they were having was acid soil, with a pH as low as 4.5 I wonder where that was at, and if they've ever considered blueberries?...

    Applenut
     
  22. BlueberryMania

    BlueberryMania Active Member

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    Hi Applenut

    Thanks for the email. I am thinking that once my plants adjust to the weather they will do much better. Plus I believe that the sulfur takes some time before lowering the PH.

    The area the article was talking about is the embu area. They grow a lot of coffee there. The mount kenya area has fairly low ph as well but I think its at about 5. I doubt if anyone has thought about growing blueberries here. I know that they are working on growing more rasberries and strawberries.

    Thanks once again

    BBM
     
  23. BlueberryMania

    BlueberryMania Active Member

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    Hi there

    Its me again. Until quite recently my blueberry plants were doing better (I think). However after it started raining, I have noticed a lot of aphids on the plants (even on the plants that are growing in my patio). I have tried to use an organic pesticide (Neem, peppermint) but the aphids are still there.

    I have now decided to use an inorganic pesticide. Any suggestions? Also because of the weather here do you think I should spray the plants with a pesticide (organic) on a weekly basis? I would like to keep the plant free of harmful pests and I think the plants here are more susceptible to pests.

    I would really appreciate any suggestions or comments. Thanks.

    BBM
     
  24. Applenut

    Applenut Active Member

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    For aphids I use a oil/soap spray that dries their bodies out and shrivels them up. If you use an insecticide like permithryn it may also harm beneficials, which will only move in after there's something to eat.

    One thing I found in Africa is that everything eats everything, and for every predator there is another predator waiting to eat it. There is a host of other insects that love aphids, and all you're trying to do is keep them at bay until the "goon squad" takes over.

    Applenut
     
  25. BlueberryMania

    BlueberryMania Active Member

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    Hi Applenut

    Thanks for the suggestions. Any recommendations on the oil or soap I should be using and how often? I think I will refrain from using commercial insecticides for a bit. Hopefully it will get better.

    Thanks once again.

    BBM
     

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