Plant Clinic

Blueberries won’t thrive in South Florida

 
 
South Florida’s soil and climate aren’t conducive to blueberry bushes, but they can be grown in containers.
South Florida’s soil and climate aren’t conducive to blueberry bushes, but they can be grown in containers.
UF/IFAS Extension

dade@ifas.ufl.edu

Q: I’d like to grow some blueberries. Which is the best way to grow them?

R.M., Hialeah

A: Blueberries are acid-loving plants (pH 4.5 – 5.5) and we have very alkaline soils (pH 7.4 – 8.4) in most of Southeast Florida. If you are really determined to grow blueberries, you can try to grow them in containers with a potting soil with a high peat moss content and water with rainwater, distilled water, or tap water with one tablespoon of vinegar per gallon of water. Our tap and well water has a very high pH and will raise the soil pH over time. Fertilize with a fertilizer labeled for acid-loving plants.

Unfortunately blueberries are not long lived here — maybe a year. Look for southern highbush “low-chill” varieties — although we usually don’t get enough chilling hours for even low chill varieties. The fruit crop will be poor or nonexistent because there are not enough hours of cool temperatures for flower formation. Typically in Miami-Dade County, we get about 45 to 55 chilling hours each year, depending on winter temperatures.

Instead, you may want to grow tropical fruit since there are many to choose from and most do well in Southeast Florida. To learn more about growing fruit, please visit this University of Florida website: http://trec.ifas.ufl.edu/fruitscapes/.

Insect Samples

Send undamaged (live or dead) insects in a crush-proof container such as a pill bottle or film canister with the top taped on. Mail them in a padded envelope or box with a brief note explaining where you found the insects.

Do not tape insects to paper or place them loose in envelopes. Insect fragments or crushed insect samples are almost impossible to identify.

Send them to the address of your county extension office, found in the blue pages in the phone book under county government.

Adrian Hunsberger is an entomologist/horticulturist with the UF/IFAS Miami-Dade Extension office. Write to Plant Clinic, 18710 SW 288th St., Homestead, FL 33030; e-mail aghu@ifas.ufl.edu.

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