I planted 6 blueberry plants today, in a hedge along the south side
of my house. My experience with blueberries comes from planting a
couple of plants back in the middle 80's. Both died, because our
underlying bedrock is limestone, and we have a pH of around 7.5
I figured I'd get some aluminum sulphate, elemental sulphur, or
ammonium sulphate. Trouble is, none of the garden centers, big stores
or home improvement centers around here seem to carry any of these.
Many of them have bags of lime, however, which I can't figure out why
anybody around here would use. (soil is already naturally alkaline)
I've tried K-mart, Kroger, Lowe's, Home Depot, Meijer.
Can anyone recommend a chain store that carries one of these? Little
garden centers around here are no longer in business.
Can you ask a store to order elemental sulfur for you? The sulfur you
put on NOW, will affect next year's crop. Is there an university Ag.
extension, or master gardeners in your phone book, that you could ask
where to buy elemental sulfur? Potatoes are like blueberries in their pH
needs, and it seems most vegetables like the soil, a little on the
acidic side, so it seems like a reasonable thing for a garden center to
carry. Worse comes to worse, order it on the internet, and then keep
pushing your local gardening centers to carry it.
Try Home Despot
They should be able to deliver it to the store.
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the
Here is a link to the Ag. extension offices in the US.
It's a good idea to start with them. They have the best information
about your area. Looks like Ohio has an office in every county. If
there are any farms in your area, look for a farm store. The
extension agent would know if there are any.
Lowes does, down here in FL. It is with their organic stuff.
"Espoma 'Garden Sulfur'". Here's an image from the Lowes web site:
Of course, your post begs the question, "If you knew about the pH,
then why didn't you prepare your planting site? Backfilling your
planting holes with pure pine bark or peat moss would have suited your
blueberries just fine. Blueberry culture is identical to azalea culture
or citrus culture. Commercial growers feed azalea fertilizer blends to
blueberries which, along with citrus blends, contains acidifying
If you need to acidify your blueberries quickly, I suggest diluted
vinegar. Dilute and appy 1/4 cup of standard otc distilled vinegar in 2
gal of water on 24 sq ft. Try to keep if off leaves. For my small beds,
a simple 2-gal. watering can works well. Vinegar has several advantages:
Quick effect; low "proof" so that you don't "overdo" and that may be
applied frequently; contains no potentially harmful minerals or salts.
Sulfur is a secondary nutrient needed to form proteins but sulfur
residues and salts are not necessarily beneficial to plants and/or
soil-dwelling organisms. Personally, I apply sulfur only as ferrous
sulfate and then very rarely and only for its long-term effects. For
fast, short term response, though, I acidify with vinegar and then add
liquid chelated iron, if necessary.
I was employed by a small-time commercial blueberry grower in the
early part of the last decade. Here in peninsular FL, commercial
blueberries are not even planted in the soil but are grown on hilled
rows of 100% pine bark. Where I worked, after their annual pruning, the
plants receive a top dressing of pine bark, a good healthy annual dose
of humic acid and a side of commercial slow-release azalea fertilizer.
USDA zone 9b, U.S.A. peninsular Florida
I have 3 planted in peat, in my limited space. My second year with them,
and have only cut dead branches. Lot of berries for small bushes, at
least I'm happy.
Care to say anything about pruning?
LOL! Easy: Assuming them to be mature productive plants, they get
hedged with chain saws as soon as possible after their last picking.
Used hedge clippers at one time but the chain saws are much faster,
noisier, and stinkier. Someone may or may not come along and open up the
plants' interiors with actual pruning tools. Doesn't do the plant a lot
of good, long term, but it sure does stimulate new growth! Runaways and
interior crossing branches are removed throughout the year and, after
bud differentiation, so are vegetative canes. During the first 3-4
years out of the nursery, the plants are pruned only enough to establish
good foundations and open, bushy, round plants.
I don't think that blueberry culture in FL's humid two-season
climate is exactly the same as it is elsewhere in N.A. but if I were
willing to do the dance to grow them in a home garden here I'd prune
them very much like azaleas. That is, prune for maximum new growth and
as the season progresses remove crossing branches and runaways so as to
keep the crown open.
>Of course, your post begs the question, "If you knew about the pH, then
>why didn't you prepare your planting site?
A couple of reasons. One, I'm a procrastinator. I hadn't even
really decided exactly where I wanted the blueberry plants - I just knew
I wanted to try growing some again.
Second, the place I ordered them from said they stopped doing Spring
shipping in late April, then resumed in Fall. Since it was past the
middle of May, I figured they would send me the plants in the fall, and
I had plenty of time to decide where they would go.
Instead, the plants arrived on a busy day, and just before my wife
and I planned to leave for 3 days. I was able to dig the holes, place
some dehydrated plastic in, and then top dress with composted cow
manure. Now I've finally found a local place with aluminum sulfate.
Long term, I'll also apply some peat moss and elemental sulfur.
Isn't that the way it always goes? Are these the same blueberries
that are interfering with your possible placement of rain collectors? If
so, why not consider moving the hedge enough to make space for your a
rainwater storage system? For practical use for more than porch
container plants, think in terms of hundreds of gallons.
Although it is not the most effective method, you can work some peat
moss into the soil as an interim measure. Here in the northern
suburbs of Chicago, we have similar issues with stores. I can still
find what I need in nearby nurseries. Have you tried those?
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