Something new for me....blueberries


Thank you for your reminder. As you say, its just amazing how much difference we’ve had with blueberries and living so close. I had actually forgotten that you felt pine needles had been a big part of your success. Thanks to the sulfur and hollytone I have certainly had improvements over the last 2-3 years, but I’ve seen your blueberry photos and mine are just no where remotely close the size, health, production, etc that you have. Yours are just plain amazing.

Have you ever had your soil tested? I’m wondering if you know what your soil ph is in the unamended area around your plants? I’ve never tested mine, which is dumb. Its possible that for some reason it could be ridiculously high- more than the pine needles could improve. I just don’t know what our differences are but I sure need to figure it out! I do have some rabbiteye, btw, and while they aren’t in your class of health and size, they are for sure my best producers.

BTW…I wasn’t sure your blueberries made it through the frost-glad to hear that!


Thanks Kevin! I was so relieved they made it though the freeze. I had my soil tested in that plot prior to planning and it was ph 6.3 so that’s probably a big reason for success. It was a pine forest before it became pasture so probably set great conditions for blueberries before I even planted the orchard.


OK Zack…your memory is as bad as mine apparently! haha. I have actually been rereading that old thread that you linked to above and I noticed that I asked you back then if you had tested your blueberry dirt. You said you had and that it came back at 5.3, not 6.3 !!! That is a huge difference. If it was 5.3 then holy cow, no wonder you have 10 foot blue berries. If it was 6.3 then its still good…just not 5.3 good.

I hope you understand I’m mostly just having fun with you because I know it was an honest mistake and either you forgot or made a typo in one of the entries, but I actually am pretty curious which number is correct. Here is the post you made saying 5.3:

So…what ph dirt are you dealing with up there!? :slight_smile:


One of the problems is even peat moss, pine needles or pine bark will not acidify alkaline soil for very long. The very best way is sulfur. Or to use only peat and pine in your mixes for containers or raised beds. Do not add anything basic. No compost. Use Hollytone fertilizer for organic methods. Peat and pine products will compost too. Don’t add anything else.


Drew, and others, a very good read about your experiences in my new effort growing blueberries. I might not have the right varieties to start, everything else I have. I have to pick up two more plants today, a Bonus and Blueray. These 6 plants will be my starts in blueberries. If they fail, so what, $50.00 ain’t bad for starters.


@Drew51 where do you purchase your large grain DE? I can only find the fine powder.


It iis used as an oil absorbent so sold in Auto stores. It is 100% DE, nothing else. It’s the best oil absorbent too if you ask me. Optisorb brand offers the largest particle size. I wish they sold larger size for horticultural purposes. Only commercial/wholesale large grade is available. It’s used in football fields and ball parks. Studies show DE as being a fantastic amendment for any plant. Yet it’s not available. O’Reilly’s carries optisorb but they are expensive. I found Grainger sells it a lot cheaper. You order online for local store pickup. Hopefully you have one nearby!

@Chills was looking at trying some. Here it is.

I love it to root figs too!


That is lovely. Look at those roots!


It’s harder though not impossible to kill/rot cuttings. You can’t over water, the DE holds the perfect amount needed and the rest runs right out. No matter how many times you water.

The pours in DE are big enough for the root tips to enter the DE particles. I leave them on when up potting.


Zaz, was happy to find a nursery close by that have these available, cheaper at that. Reading articles about blueberries here, it might be the wrong varieties, will see. Have a blueberry orchard close by that my wife and friends visit every year, I might join them just ones. Dug a ditch, 16 feet long, 2 feet wide, 15” deep. If they don’t like what I am doing for them, tough sh…! They already got a doze of espoma
H T.


Hahaha. Good catch Kevin. I dug up the old sample stats. 5.3 was PH. My memory is definitely not so good.


I love it!! Great work. For what it’s worth Blueray a northern variety just would not work for me. Couldn’t get it to do much at all. Finally pulled and replaced with a rabbiteye. I certainly hope it works better for you! Trial and error is definitely a time tested measure we all have utilized.


Blueray is a good one in South Central Kentucky.


Would this sulfur work? How much should be applied? Can it be scratched in around the plant?


The fast acting sulfur is a nice thing to add so that you see some improvement this season. But when I was talking about sulfur I was talking about getting a 20lb bag.

instructions from university of Wisconsin website about Aluminum Sulfate and elemental sulfur

example, suppose your initial soil pH is 7.4 and you want to plant blueberries which require a pH of no higher than 5.5. You should apply about 8 to 12 lb. (16 to 24 cups) aluminum sulfate, or 1 1/3 to 2 lb. (2 3/4 to 4 cups) elemental sulfur per plant.

I dont use aluminum sulfate because Hydrangea are some of the few organisms to use aluminum in there biology and there is no need to contaminate my soil.

With Elemental sulfur you can apply the full does you will need all at once. Bacteria will slowly consume the sulfur to turn it into sulfuric acid and other sulfates that then acidify the soil.

To get the bacteria is why you use Hollytone.

Non sulfur acidic compounds will wash away and only provide temporary results. Sulfur is sticky to organic matter of the soil which is why it was important to in cooperate mulch and peat into the soil. Without the organics the acids will wash away.


Is micronized sulfur that I use in sprays elemental sulfur, or are they different as well?


they are the same. the powered if very fine so you can spray if you get pellet’s its easier to measure with out getting it air born.


Zaz, how much of cottonseed meal and how do you apply? I just bought a 50 lb bag yesterday. Got my 6 plants, use Hollytone so far.
Any suggestions? Thanks, Bob.


The best thing about cottonseed meal being organic is it will not burn your blueberries. So if you use too much it will just use what it needs and leave the rest. It also spreads out as a feeding source for 6-8 weeks versus synthetic fertilizers much lesser, around 1 to 2 weeks.

First year I just gave each plant one cup per. I spread that Cup all the way around the plant in about 12 to 18 inches from the plant itself. After about three years I went to 2 cups per plant and now I am at 3 cups per plant for my seven year blueberries. After spreading the cottonseed meal I would go back and need the soil around it and make it go into the soil a little bit more and through the Pine-needle mulch.
I fertilize twice a year once in February March and again in April May. Some of years I even do a dose in mid June end of June. Of course probably not wise to do it after July 31 as the plant will need to recover and save itself for the winter without new young growth.


All of it. from ground level cover it with 2-3" of material. cottonseed meal, pine straw peat etc. Add more material every year to keep the organic 2-3" above ground level. The root ball should grow to be at least as wide as the bush so spread accodringly.