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How can I tell if my blueberry plant is dying?

Updated July 20, 2017

Blueberry bushes are great additions to the garden. Not only do they provide berries for eating and cooking, they are attractive landscape plants, with exceptional autumn colours. The most common blueberry plant grown is Vaccinium corymbosum. While the old branches of blueberry bushes can easily look dead at first glance and some of them may be, the plant may have plenty of life remaining. Pruning dead wood can bring an ageing blueberry back to life.

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  1. Remove dead wood by pruning. Old stems can look dead, but may still be productive. If the growing season has commenced and no foliage has emerged from that stem, it is definitely dead and you should remove it to the base of the plant. It is normal for some stems to die off from time to time.

  2. Scratch the bark lightly of stems that look like they may be dead. If you see any green tissue, the stem is alive.

  3. Check the plant closely for new green shoots. If there are any, the plant is not dead.

  4. Inspect foliage, stems and flowers, if any, for signs of distress. If the foliage is discoloured or if stems have growths on them, or if flowers dry up and fall off, there is a good chance that a disease is affecting your blueberry bush.

  5. Check the root area for signs of physical damage or possible animal destruction. If you see significant physical damage and no viable top growth, the plant is dead.

  6. Cut off a stem that demonstrates the visible problems and place it in a plastic bag. Take it to a local garden centre for assistance in identifying any particular disease. Pictures of the whole plant will help.

  7. Verify that you are growing the plant in accordance with its needs. It likes to be grown in moist, acidic soil, high in organic matter. It grows in full sun to partial shade. Yellow leaves can indicate the plant is growing in soil that is too alkaline.

  8. Tip

    New blueberry canes may generate from a troubled plant if the cause of the problem can be determined and controlled.

    The soil acidity should be between 4.5 to 5.5 pH for a blueberry plant to thrive.

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Things You'll Need

  • Secateurs

About the Author

Wendy Lee has been writing in the gardening community since 1998, while growing and nurturing her vast plant collection at her home in Massachusetts. Lee studied horticulture at the New England School of Gardening and has been gardening professionally since 2009.

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