Help with bb!!!??

Rosslimited(6a)July 18, 2014

Hi- My Bountiful Blue bb has chloritic leaves on the new growth. Its planted in a container in a mixture of pine bark fines,peatmoss,pearlite & some mg organic potting soil. fertilizer is miracid & Ive also added chelated liquid iron (which includes micro nutrients). I add vinegar to the water so the ph is around 4.5. Some new growth also is partially lite red. Anyone know what my problem could be? Any suggestion are appreciated.

Thanks

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shazaam(NC 7B)

Have you tested the pH of your potting mix? Given the ingredients and the fact that you're acidifying your irrigation water, I doubt that it's too high. Nonetheless, it would be a good place to start. You can use the pour through method to check the pH of the leachate. While using distilled water will you tell you the actual pH of the media, using the acidified irrigation water that you typically use can also be informative.

This post was edited by shazaam on Sat, Jul 19, 14 at 12:20

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 11:22AM
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spaceman13(6b)

Im not an expert, but I think you may be adding too much vinegar. I add enough to get the water pH to a neutral 7. If your soil pH is very acidic, and your water is that acidic the plant could be having trouble with phosphorus uptake.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 1:25PM
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shazaam(NC 7B)

"I add enough to get the water pH to a neutral 7."

Acidifying to 4.5 is probably more than necessary, but you won't necessarily remove all of the bicarbonates that might be present unless you get the pH considerably lower than 7. As I recall, 5 to 5.5 is a good range to shoot for. I agree about the possibility of the mix being too acidic, but I'm not sure that a phosphorus deficiency would induce chlorosis in new growth. Perhaps low soil pH (if it is, in fact, too low) is causing some kind of interaction/antagonism between nutrients, though. Quite a few of my blueberries have had intermittent symptoms that are similar to what the OP is describing, and I've had a very hard time diagnosing what exactly is happening or why. I've determined that soil pH is on the low side, though, so, just in case pH is playing a role, I've backed off of everything that would further acidify the potting mix.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 2:52PM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

How much potting soil is in the mix? Are you sure that the new growth is chlorotic? New growth can be every color of the rainbow until it matures a bit. Light red new growth sounds ok. Mine is like that too. Any chance of getting a picture?

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 1:22AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Like with over or under watering PH problems give the same symptoms. Vinegar unfortunately is only a temporary fix. My guess is the bicarb load is too high. New growth should be light green, not red in anyway. Remember the difference between 4.5 and 5.5 PH is one hundred fold. It's not easy to increase or decrease one hundred fold.
Here is one of my plants notice the light green new growth. This plant is at the right PH.
A quick way to help is the use of ammonium sulfate. If PH is too high within a week, foliage will look better. It is a way to add sulfur, and quickly lower PH. Easy to burn plant, so I just use 1/4 teaspoon at each watering. A safe amount. After 4-5 watering, a change should happen. If worse flush pot.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 5:56AM
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alan.oz

Just want to point out the difference between ph 4.5 and 5.5 is ten fold, not hundred fold.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 6:57AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

My bad I meant 4.5 to 6.5 is one hundred times.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 7:31AM
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Rosslimited(6a)

Thanks for all your comments. The leaves ARE chloritic-green veins &light green rest of leaf. Yesterday I watered with distilled water and the dripping from the bottom had a ph of 5.5-6.0. the day before I added some eps0m salt & a soil acidifier. I'm hopping for the best.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 7:29PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

That PH is still high, the ammonium sulfate would fix it, or use sulfuric acid instead of vinegar. You can get it as grass fertilizer, or buy at Amazon, pure AS. Not expensive. I myself use it, and also battery acid to acidify my water. Sulfuric acid removes bicarbs for good, Vinegar neutralizes them for a week, then they are back. So technically I expect you will eventually need to add more, and more vinegar as carbonates build up in soil. At some point you will not be able to add enough vinegar. Possible some bicarbs wash out. If using vinegar water a lot till it runs out and some of the bicarbs will be removed.
PH needs to be 5.0 and so your ph of 5.5 say is 5 times higher than normal.

Soil acidifier takes 6 months to work. It should be added to soil 6 months before you plant in the soil. I also use Espoma soil acidifier. It takes all that to keep PH in proper range, I add it at the start and middle of season.
The acid and AS help keep it in check. I may stop using the acid and AS if soil is at proper PH. But the acid and AS help change it as soon as used, so I adjust using them. PH readings may vary week to week.
I also use currently micro life Azalea fertilizer, organic, has sulfur too. So 4 sources of sulfur. I sometimes use holly tone, or cottonseed meal instead.
Here a new plant, in a small pot. Cara's Choice is the cultivar. It's throwing a nice new branch bottom right.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 7:58PM
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shazaam(NC 7B)

Although the pH is high, it's not going to be an instant death sentence for your blueberry so you have time to get it under control. I'd suggest continuing to acidify your irrigation water and perhaps switching to a more acid-forming fertilizer. If I'm not mistaken, MirAcid is mostly urea, which will lower pH more slowly than the ammonium sulfate that Drew recommended. If you want a balanced fertilizer that provides nitrogen in the form of ammonium sulfate, then Jack's Classic Acid Special is a good choice. Also, if you want to try something other than vinegar and are intimidated by handling sulfuric acid, powdered citric acid is another option. I recall seeing it recommended in a number of university publications, but it's seldom used on a large scale because it's much more costly than other alternatives.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 8:42PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

I forgot about Jack's classic, once I run out of AS I'll probably use that too. Citric acid though like vinegar will breakdown. You can use vinegar, just run that puppy right through the pot, many carbonates will leave with the solution. Vinegar does make them soluable. I can't do that in a raised bed, so sulfuric acid is a better alternative. Battery acid is what? 33%? it's weak, if you spill it on your hand and wash right away it will not burn. Although I have heard that. I never have spilled any.
Southmoon, first year. A nice new branch on the right side. Nice and thick!

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 9:04PM
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shazaam(NC 7B)

You're right that the citric acid, over time, will also be metabolized by microorganisms, thereby releasing the bicarbonates back into solution. Nonetheless, if you're regularly flushing the container (which you should be anyway to prevent salt buildup) then I suspect that it's not a problem in a soilless potting mix in the same way that it would be in soil. So, like you say Drew, if you use an organic acid just be sure to flush the soil regularly. I should point out, too, that we don't know that the vinegar has anything to do with the higher than optimal pH in this scenario.

Here is a link that might be useful: Alkalinity Control for Irrigation Water Used in Nurseries and Greenhouses

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 9:54PM
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Rosslimited(6a)

After about 10 phone calls to various places, I found a store that has citric acid. How much should I add to water, or add some & test ph ? Thanks.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 7:47PM
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shazaam(NC 7B)

The amount required will depend on the alkalinity of your water. You might start with a teaspoon, check the pH, and add more if necessary until you reach the desired pH. BTW -- what are you using to test pH?

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 8:56PM
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Rosslimited(6a)

Could not get citric acid last night. Nobody has it. I'll go to a garden center and get amonium sulfate & Jacks classic acid special. Thanks for all the detailed advise. I'll post a follow up in a week or so. Again, thanks.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 7:28PM
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Rosslimited(6a)

HI again- I added a half cup of amonium sulfate to the soil & watered it. Every time I water the pot I add am. sul.to the water so that the ph is 4.5 or less. Also added chelated liquid iron to the water about one week ago. The leaves have greened up & are no longer chlorotic. Thanks for all the advice. I also called around to many garden centers - nobody has Jacks classic acid special.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 3:44PM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

Half cup of ammonium sulfate to the soil? That would be 16 tablespoons. Sounds like quite a bit. How big is your container?

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 12:44AM
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