Overwatered blueberry bush: how to save a dying blueberry plant?

It should come as no surprise that gardeners of all skill levels love to produce blueberries in their gardens, as they are a beloved fruit. While picking your blueberries can be a fulfilling experience, taking care of blueberry plants may present challenges.

We will discuss the various reasons behind your blueberry bush dying in this article and provide you with remedies to help resolve the issue.

We’ll also provide some maintenance advice to help you take better care of your potted blueberry plant. By doing this, you can guarantee that they will produce bountiful harvests in the future. Now let us begin!

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Warning signs of overwatered blueberry bushes

  • Wilted and brown leaves are one of the first indications that your blueberry bush has been overwatered.
  • This can seem strange because we usually associate leaf wilting with a lack of water. Overwatering, on the other hand, causes a plant’s roots to grow soggy thereby making it hard for them to absorb essential nutrients from the soil. This may result in several problems, such as early leaf drop and leaf yellowing or browning.
  • Root rot can occur as a result of a lack of oxygen in the roots. If root rot is not treated, it may eventually kill your blueberry plant. Make sure the soil where your blueberry bush is planted is well-draining, and don’t overwater it to prevent root rot.
  • Another typical sign of overwatering blueberry bushes is stunted growth. Overwatering a plant causes its roots to become unable to absorb the nutrients from the soil, which can stunt or even kill the plant. Make sure the soil where your blueberry bush is planted is rich in minerals and organic matter to avoid stunted growth.
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Causes of Dying Blueberry Plants

Below are the reasons your blueberry plant is dying.

Over or under-watering

A blueberry plant can die from both overwatering and underwatering, with underwatering being the more frequent culprit. The leaves will start to turn brown and dry more if left for an extended period.

On the other hand, overwatering results in leaf drop and root rot. Water only when the soil is completely dry, then add two inches of compost and four inches of mulch.

Blueberry plants curl their leaves to retain moisture when they are not receiving enough water. The leaves will eventually start to turn brown and dry out more if left alone. This occasionally results in leaf drop even though some blueberry plants retain their brown leaves. Under-watering is prevalent in hot, dry regions where soil moisture evaporates in hours.

However, overwatered blueberry bushes cause root rot and standing water in the ground. Poor drainage soils are particularly prone to this.

The plant becomes stressed as soon as it becomes waterlogged until the roots have an opportunity to partially dry out and fight off the mold that causes root rot. The roots end up decaying eventually leading to the blueberry bush dying.

In addition to improving the soil’s richness and ability to hold water, compost gives the soil essential nutrients. Also, it feeds mycorrhizal fungus and earthworms, two important soil organisms that give plants additional nutrients and disease resistance.

Mulch keeps the soil from drying out in the wind and sun. Mulch retains moisture and significantly lowers evaporation in hot, dry conditions.

Mulch offers the plant and its roots a layer of insulation during cold weather. Pine needles, bark, leaves, and straw are a few excellent mulch options for blueberry bushes.

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Inadequate soil conditions

Blueberry plant’s leaves may also become discolored due to certain soil conditions. The majority of plants require well-drained soil to thrive, and your blueberry plant is certainly not an exemption.

As discussed before, poor draining can lead to an excessive amount of moisture being retained in the soil, which can result in root rot.

Before planting anything, if at all possible, aerate the soil. If done correctly, this should essentially prevent the majority of drainage issues.

Plants that are grown in poor soil may also have trouble absorbing nutrients. During the growing season, it can be a good idea to mix in compost or additional fertilizer. Additionally, be careful not to overfeed the plant since this might burn it and result in discoloration. Don’t exceed or go below the suggested amount; instead, follow the instructions on the package.

The soil pH is the most crucial factor to consider. Blueberry bushes grow best in acidic soil with a pH between 4.5 and 5.0. Anything over 5.0 can harm your berry plants. Specifically, an acidic environment can lead to both discoloration and curling of the leaves!

You can determine the pH of your soil with a test kit, which you can get from most garden stores.

Agricultural lime can be used to raise the pH if it is excessively acidic. You can add organic matter, like coffee grounds or pine needle mulch, to the soil to increase its acidity.

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Lack or excess nutrients

Another reason your blueberry leaves are turning red is nutrient deficiencies. Taking steps to ensure the soil pH is at a suitable, acidic level should be your priority. By doing this, the likelihood of successfully treating the problem is increased.

Using a soil test kit, you may determine which nutrient your blueberry plant might be lacking. You can use the test to find out the soil’s nutrient levels and then make any necessary adjustments after that. Although a test kit is not mandatory for identifying the problem, it can certainly simplify the process.

Also, excess nutrients can be removed from the soil by heavily watering it, but be cautious not to overwater the plants.

Phosphorus deficiency

If you find that the leaves on your potted blueberry plants are turning a maroon color in the spring, your plant may have a phosphorus deficiency. The increased production of anthocyanins, which are typically found in the oldest sections of the plant, is what causes redness.

Checking the soil pH around your plants is the solution to this. To improve your blueberry plants’ ability to absorb the nutrients they require, work to make the soil significantly more acidic than it was previously. In this case, using organic matter is the best option.

Eggshells, coffee grounds, dried leaves, peat moss, manure, and alfalfa meal are also excellent options. The added advantage of mulching the soil with these substances is that it keeps the plant’s roots protected over the winter.

Magnesium deficiency

If you notice that the veins on the leaves of your plant are becoming red, you have a magnesium deficiency. If your plant lacks magnesium, it won’t be able to create chlorophyll, the pigment that gives leaves their green color.

This is important for food production, and if the issue isn’t resolved, it could result in additional nutrient deficiencies. The leaves will first become yellow, and then they will turn red. The plant’s youngest leaves tend to exhibit this.

Fortunately, the remedy for this issue is as easy as adding Epsom salt to the soil. In simple terms, magnesium and sulfur, or hydrated magnesium sulfate, is what makes up Epsom salt. This should replenish the magnesium deficiency in the soil and restore the vibrant green color of the leaves. In addition, it could stimulate the production of extra blueberry leaves, which is always a pleasing sight.

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General nutrient deficiency

All things considered, a general nutrient deficiency could be the reason for your blueberry plant leaves turning red. The blueberry leaves will typically become purple-red to indicate this. Check to see if the soil has a good pH and drainage.

Make sure the plant receives adequate sunlight and water — neither excessively nor insufficiently.

You can buy plant food that has more of the nutrients the soil is lacking by using a test kit to identify what those nutrients are. You can easily restore the health of your plant by doing this.


Blueberry bushes are susceptible to diseases, just like most other plants. There are numerous potential diseases associated with the blueberry bush.

Blueberry bush root rot

Compaction of the roots caused by excessively wet soil over an extended period leads to root rot. Their ability to absorb nutrients will be hindered by the soil that is holding them down. The remainder of the plant struggles as a result of this.

The plant’s leaves and stems turning yellow is the most typical sign of root rot. The plant’s tips will eventually turn yellow and begin to wilt, followed by the rest of the plant. If you examine the roots, you’ll probably notice a lot of white material surrounding them due to water buildup.

How to fix?

You have two choices if you find that your blueberries have root rot.

Simply let the soil dry up before watering it again, and then exercise more caution while using water, if the situation isn’t too serious. This should allow the plant to recover the time it requires.

Should the damage be more serious, you might need to remove the plant, carefully remove the roots, and replant it in dry, well-draining soil. Exercise caution, as this may cause stress for the plant. After you’re through, take good care of it; the root rot may still be there, so you still need to be cautious with the water.

Phomopsis Twig Blight

Necrotic lesions that occur on the twigs of the plant and are brown are indications of this disease. After that, the twigs get spots, and the leaves begin to wither. Bright green leaves eventually turn red, and when the berries are harvested, they can be rotten.

Prune the diseased twigs from the plant during the dormant season to address this issue. Throw away the parts you removed.

Avoid watering the plants from above while they recuperate, as this may disperse pathogens. Lime sulfur should also be applied to broken leaf buds. Lime sulfur can be diluted with water to make a spray that can be applied to the plants.

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Blueberry bush blight

Meanwhile, dealing with blight can be more difficult. Common garden plants are susceptible to several diseases and this is collectively referred to as blight. It usually starts as little brown spots on the blueberry leaves, which soon begin to wither and the canes follow shortly after.

How to fix?

Immediately you see evidence of blight on your blueberry bush, remove the infected plants. Make sure to trim the canes a few inches below the unhealthy-looking sections in addition to removing them. Hopefully, this will eliminate any potential infection from other parts as well.

Other than that, your best chance is to try planting blueberry varieties that are more resistant to it and take care not to leave any open wounds on the bushes. Unfortunately, it might already be too late if the blight has already affected the majority of the plant.

Blueberry Leaf Scorch

A bacterial disease known as blueberry leaf scorch, which causes the blueberry leaves to turn red, may afflict blueberry plants. The bacterium Xylella fastidiosa is to blame for this. It causes the plant’s nutrition flow to be restricted, which turns the leaves red. Production of leaves and berries declines till it leads to Blueberry bush dying.

Regretfully, eliminating and destroying all infected plants is the sole method to eradicate this disease.

Be careful to take immediate action upon identifying the issue, since pests that have come into touch with your plants have the potential to spread it to other areas.

Blueberry Leaf Rust

The undersides of afflicted leaves with leaf rust display yellow to orange pustules. Spots with a yellow-brown color can be seen on the upper portions of the leaves.

Fungicides might be required to treat blueberry leaf rust.

Fungicide application is advised from early harvest through August. For best effects, spray the fungicide every two weeks.

Powdery Mildew

Numerous plants, especially blueberry bushes, are impacted by powdery mildew. The fungus Erysiphe vaccinii is to blame for this, as it causes a fluffy, white material to develop on the plant’s leaves.

Apply a sulfur-containing fungicide and trim the plant as needed to address the issue. The plants ought to recover well after this.

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Mummy Berry Disease

An overwintering fungus found in rotten berries that fall to the ground is the source of the Mummy Berry Disease. Therefore, any rotten berries must be thrown away immediately.

The leaves of the afflicted plant become black. Coloration occurs from the center outward. With time, the fruits also begin to wilt due to infection of the leaves.


Remove any rotten/dead fruits by raking the soil beneath the plant and discarding it. Cover the area with a thick layer of organic mulch to prevent an outbreak.

Never plant in poorly draining soil.


Fungicides with Mummy Berry labels are available for purchase. Such fungicides can be sprayed in the early spring. It could take a few sprays (spray every week) before you notice any changes.

Septoria Leaf Spot

This fungal disease, also called Septoria blight, results in flat, sunken lesions on the stems and leaves of the plant. Their centers are gray or tan, and they usually weaken newer plants more quickly compared to older ones. The tiny black spots on the leaves that you may have noticed are the spores of the fungus.

While this disease is curable, if treatment is delayed, the plant may become unhealthy throughout its life and lose its ability to bear fruit.

Applying a high-quality fungicide may be useful in disease management, particularly if done before symptoms get worse. To eradicate the disease, repeat the application for a couple of weeks. You may use organic products containing potassium bicarbonate or copper instead of synthetic chemicals.

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Pest infestations

Regardless of the quantity planted, blueberry bushes can suffer greatly from pest infestations. Even though a lot of animals may only choose to consume the berries, some of them can kill the plant completely, therefore, protecting your blueberry plants from pests can guarantee better health.

Deer and rabbits

Dealing with some of the more prevalent pests, such as deer and rabbits, is usually not too difficult. Enclosing your blueberry plants with a fence might be quite beneficial. Should that be insufficient, consider dispersing human hair around the base of the plants. The smell of people tends to repel the animals that would otherwise feed on your berries.


A major issue with birds is that fences typically aren’t enough to keep them out. Consider attaching reflective tape to the bushes or wind-spinning reflective pinwheels. The majority of birds will flee due to the movement and intense light. If it still doesn’t work, you can try covering your plants.


Bugs are another prevalent pest affecting blueberry bushes. They make your blueberry bush turn brown. Numerous bugs including aphids and insects, may enjoy eating your blueberries. Fortunately, there are a couple of strategies to eliminate them so your blueberry plant doesn’t turn brown and eventually die.

Occasionally, a simple cleaning can eliminate all bugs from the blueberry bush. Use the hose to give it a thorough spray, being careful not to be too forceful, and all of the pests will be removed.

Another option is to try enriching your soil with diatomaceous earth. Most bugs that are troubling your berries are going to be killed by this.

However, it will also eradicate most other bugs, so you may want to refrain from applying it if you have bugs you are reluctant to eliminate.

Another preferred organic pest control method is horticultural neem oil. It manages pests quite well while being kind to the environment.

And last but not least, you can use additional bugs to combat bugs! Certain bug species can aid in the removal of more dangerous pests while posing little threat to blueberries. Assassin bugs, ladybugs, and spiders are all excellent choices.

These bugs are available online or at some plant stores. Hopefully, bringing them into your garden can assist you in warding off the more bothersome tiny creatures that disturb your berries.

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Let me answer the most frequently asked questions I receive.

How do you know if blueberries are overwatered?

These are the signs of overwatered blueberries:

– wilted and brown leaves;
– the plant stem’s base seems mushy or unsteady;
– stunted growth;
– a terrible smell emanates from the soil;
– dropping of both new and old leaves.

Can you revive a blueberry bush?

YES. A little care can bring a dying blueberry plant back to life. In addition to routinely pruning the branches, you should also adjust the soil pH and provide the dying blueberry plant with enough sunlight and water. Spot-treating any other specific problems, like as blight or pests, is also an option.

Do blueberry bushes do well in wet soil?

NO. Sufficient soil drainage is necessary for thriving blueberry bushes. However, Blueberry bushes cannot withstand moist soil for too long.

Should you water blueberry bushes everyday?

You shouldn’t have to water your blueberry plants every day in typical garden soil. This mostly makes the soil moist or soggy, which can promote root rot and other plant diseases.

If there isn’t enough rain, water the root and the soil around it just as much as is necessary. Apply an organic mulch to help conserve moisture and cut down on hand-watering.

Plants that are planted in the winter dormant season will need far less water because they are not actively developing and evaporation occurs much more slowly. Thus, take care to avoid overwatering in the winter!

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Even though there are many reasons why a plant may be unhealthy, there is usually a solution to help them recover.

Implementing these strategies as soon as possible can truly make a huge impact on your plant’s ability to recover, so don’t delay!

Make sure that your plant’s needs are satisfied because, as they say, prevention is always better than cure. I hope this guide is of immense help to you.

Ruth Walsh

Gardens hold a special allure for many, a place where dreams take root and flourish. But for those stepping into the world of gardening for the first time, the path can be tangled with questions and uncertainties. That’s where I come in. Welcome to my gardening blog, where I’m dedicated to guiding beginners through the intricate journey of cultivating their own crops.

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