How-To

Blueberry Leaves Turning Red

Blueberries are perennial flowering plants in the genus Vaccinium (family Ericaceae). The name is derived from the French and Latin word “bleu,” meaning a dark blue color, and they are also known as common blueberry, huckleberry, or bilberry. Wild blueberries grow in North America, Europe, and Asia. Many species of this plant have become endangered due to over picking or crowding out by other vegetation.

Cultivated varieties of this herb have also been bred for human consumption. These cultivated blueberries have large berries, are sweet, tart, and sometimes have a metallic aftertaste. The main species of cultivated blueberries are the southern highbush blueberry, northern highbush blueberry, and rabbit eye blueberry.

The blueberry leaves turn red in North America and Europe during autumn. Some leaves turn red even before they fully develop in the summer due to stress buildup due to lack of moisture or sunlight. Summer drought is the cause of the summer leaves turning red after flowering. In northern climates, stress is less likely; however, with the harsh winter and low humidity in some areas, growth may slow down due to a lack of water.

The blueberry fruits are small, but they are very sweet and juicy. The fruit is also edible even if it’s not fully ripe. You can use this fruit for making jam as well.

Blueberries are harvested in late summer and early autumn. The most popular varieties of blueberries that are harvested this time of the year are the southern highbush, northern highbush, and lowbush types.

Blueberries are very nutritious and have an assortment of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C and E. They also contain a lot more antioxidants than other berries.

Growing Blueberries

Blueberries can be grown differently, depending on the climate and location. They can be grown as seedlings or transplanted. Blueberry bushes are usually transplanted in the autumn for a better summer season of growth. Blueberry plants need some training so that they will grow upright, and they also require deep fertile soil to grow well.

For a blueberry to thrive, it needs the following conditions:

  1. Sunlight
    Blueberries need direct sunlight for them to produce fruit and for the bushes to grow upwards. Blueberry plants do not like shaded areas, hindering fruit production.

  2. Moist, rich soil
    Blueberries require the soil to be wet all the time for them to thrive. If there is no moisture, blueberries will not grow very well and may even die out completely. Blueberry plants prefer soils rich in organic matter and sandy in texture.

  3. Water
    Blueberry plants need a lot of water to continue growing at an optimal rate. Blueberries need more water during the summer months to produce fruit and thrive.

  4. Temperature
    Blueberries vary in their temperature preference. Most blueberry plants prefer a temperature of around 70 °F, but some can be grown as low as 50 °F. If the temperature is too high, blueberries will not produce fruit and die out.

  5. Fertile soil
    Blueberries need their soil to be very rich in nutrients and organic matter to thrive. Blueberry plants need a lot of nitrogen in their soil, whether growing in the ground or pots.

  6. Pollination
    Blueberries need to be pollinated, just like most plants do. The plant needs to produce fruit to get seeds. Most blueberry varieties are self-pollinated, but some need outside pollen sources to produce fruit.

Causes of Blueberry Leaves Turning Red

There are many reasons why blueberry leaves turn red in the autumn season. The main reason is due to stress buildup within the plant.

  1. Summer drought
    If there has been a lack of rain during the summer, this can result in the leaves turning red prematurely. When there is not enough moisture present to feed the newly developing leaves, they will turn red before they are fully developed. If the water becomes available again when further developed, these leaves may return to their normal green state.

  2. Heavy pruning
    Heavy pruning of blueberry bushes may also result in the leaves turning red prematurely. The plant will divert all of its resources to a few still green stems instead of sending them to the rest of the plant. The bush will redirect its energy to produce new leaves and berries, which results in more stress being placed on new leaves as they develop. It may cause them to turn red prematurely if there is insufficient moisture.

  3. Winter damage
    During winter, blueberry leaves may turn red due to some areas’ severe climate and low humidity. The leaves may wilt and die if winter is very cold and dry. It will result in new leaves developing that are not fully developed.

  4. Too much water
    If there is too much rainfall during the summer months, it can cause blueberry leaves to turn red prematurely. When the soil becomes saturated with moisture, it will not be able to absorb any more rainfall. It will cause the leaves to turn red prematurely.

  5. Diseases
    Diseases may also be a factor in premature leaf shedding and turning red. Diseased leaves are very susceptible to changing colors, and this is because they are weak and dying already. In Florida, diseases may be more prevalent due to humidity and high temperatures.

  6. Insects
    Insects can cause premature leaf shedding and turning red in the autumn season. They may feed on the leaves and cause them to turn red before they are fully developed.

  7. Phosphorous deficiency
    Phosphorous is essential for plant growth, especially in the early stages of development. During the autumn season, phosphorus may become deficient in the soil, which will result in leaves turning red prematurely. The deficiency slows cell division and may result in premature leaf shedding.

  8. Copper deficiency
    Copper is a very important nutrient for blueberry leaves to be healthy and fully developed. If there is too much copper present in the soil, this will result in early leaf shedding and premature leaf color changes.

  9. Wrong PH
    If the soil’s PH level is too acidic, this can cause blueberry leaves to turn red prematurely. Since plants absorb nutrients based on the PH level, and nutrient absorption is not optimal at lower PH levels, this will result in nutrients being taken away from the leaves. As a result, they will look pale and may turn red earlier than normal.

  10. Early transplanting
    When blueberries are planted too early in their growing season, they may also turn red prematurely. The blueberry leaves are still developing, and any injury or stress may cause them to drop their leaves before they are completely developed prematurely.

If blueberries are not producing fruit, there may be a problem with how they grow. If plants are unable to absorb nutrients properly, then this can result in plants turning red early on. Early leaf loss usually occurs in hot weather and before the fruit ripens. It occurs because the leaves are taking a lot of the plant’s energy, and if they are not enough water present, this can result in leaf drop. The plant will redirect its energy to producing fruit and more leaves instead of trying to produce new leaves.

Solutions for Blueberry Leaves Turning Red

You can take certain actions to improve plant health and alleviate the issues of leaf drops.

  1. Watering
    The first step in dealing with blueberry leaf drops is properly water the plants. If there is a lack of moisture present in the soil, this will result in blueberry leaves turning red prematurely. It is important to look for signs of drought or the soiled sleeve being exposed.

  2. Fertilization
    A lack of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus in the soil will result in blueberry leaves turning red prematurely. You should check the soil’s ph level, which will help you determine if there is a deficiency. You can add these nutrients to the soil by mixing them with compost or manure or buying fertilizer in dry form that can be watered into the soil without any water.

  3. Pruning
    If you prune your blueberry bushes too much, this may result in the leaves turning red prematurely. It is important to remove dead, diseased, and competing stems before they can harm the rest of the plant. Ensure you do not prune away more than a third of the plant. It will give the remaining stems and leaves enough energy to produce new leaves and fruit during harvest time.

  4. Fall pruning
    Blueberry leaves that turn red in autumn suffer from summer damage and over-watering. If there is too much water present, this will result in blueberry leaves turning red too soon compared to previous years. If you have more than one bush, you may want to prune them back in the fall to reduce their water uptake, which will result in less stress placed on leaves as they are developing and less energy being diverted away from them for fruit production.

  5. Deadheading
    This technique can remove flowers from the blueberry bushes as they bloom. It helps reduce the amount of leaf production by about 50%, so you will not have as many leaves developing on your fruit plants. If you have more than one blueberry bush in your garden, then make sure to do this on all the different branches.

  6. Spraying fungicides
    If there are any fungal diseases present in the soil, they may be able to infest the blueberry leaves and cause them to turn red prematurely. You can prevent this by spraying the soil with fungicides before fruiting begins.

  7. Add Magnesium
    Magnesium is an important component of chlorophyll, the green pigment that helps the blueberry plants absorb light from the sun. If there is a magnesium deficiency present in the blueberry soil, this can result in leaves turning red prematurely due to a lack of chlorophyll. To correct this issue, you can spray magnesium sulfate into the soil around your blueberry plants.

    Adding Epsom salts can also help alleviate the blueberry leaves turning red early on, as this acts as a magnesium supplement. The blueberry plants will absorb this through their roots, and it will help them to produce chlorophyll, which is necessary for photosynthesis.

  8. Remove incurable plants
    If you cannot afford to take care of your blueberry plants, there are certain plants that you can remove to save space and reduce their chances of spreading disease. If you have more than one bush, then make sure they are not planted next to each other to prevent cross-pollination.

    It is important to take preventative steps to help prevent the problem of blueberry leaves turning red early.

  9. Remove pest infestations
    If you have found any pests responsible for causing your blueberry leaves to turn red early on, you should treat them with fungicides or pesticides. It will remove any pests damaging the plant and causing unnecessary stress.

  10. Remove any competing plants
    If you have logs or stumps that remain from past injuries in your garden, then you should remove these from the area as they may reduce the amount of space available for your blueberry plants to grow. If these are large enough, you should be able to remove them with tools suitable for this type of work.

Conclusion

The causes of blueberry leave turning red are numerous and diverse and can be affected by many factors. If you have any suspicions that this is a problem, or if you have found evidence that your blueberries are suffering from it, then it is important to discuss your concerns with a professional who can help you find the precise cause.

Blueberry leaves turning red is a problem that often occurs due to stresses placed on the plant by pests or diseases. Identifying this issue’s cause will help you find the appropriate solution. Keeping the blueberry leaves healthy is important by providing them with the correct water and nutrients. Plants can be treated with pesticides or fungicides or pruning them to improve airflow. You can take plenty of preventative steps to reduce the chances of blueberry leaves turning red early on.