How to Defoliate Blueberry Bushes


Blueberry bushes are beneficial to a landscape, supplying not only a delicious harvest but also an aesthetic beauty when kept under control with pruning. However, this crop is also susceptible to numerous fungal diseases such as twig blight, ripe rot and cankers. The best way to avoid these diseases is to defoliate your blueberry bushes by pruning back any diseased areas.

Step 1

Check your blueberry bushes for symptoms of disease. This includes open sores, cankers, oozing sap, twigs that appear gray or cobwebby, dead foliage, or wilted berries. Keep in mind that if your entire plant is infested or diseased, there is little you can do to save it that season.

Step 2

Soak your pruning shears, for larger canes or branches, or pruning scissors, for smaller foliage, in a mixture of 65 percent rubbing alcohol and 35 percent water to sterilize the tools. You don't want to spread any diseases between cuts.

Step 3

Cut off any diseased leaves, twigs and branches with the pruning shears or scissors. Cut at a downward angle less than 50 degrees, removing the branches or canes all the way back to the base of the plant. Sterilize the pruning tools between each cut.

Step 4

Discard all the dead foliage underneath the blueberry bush, making sure to leave no diseased foliage behind to prevent future spreading.

Things You'll Need

  • Gardening gloves
  • Pruning shears and scissors
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Garbage bag


  • University of Tenessee: Fruit Pest News
  • North Carolina State Universit: Blueberry Pest Management
  • Michigan State University: Mummyberry
Keywords: defoliating blueberry bushes, blueberry plant care, preventing blueberry disease

About this Author

Lauren Wise has more than eight years' experience as a writer, editor, copywriter and columnist. She specializes in food, wine, music and pop culture. Her writing has appeared in various magazines, including "Runway," "A2Z," "Scottsdale Luxury Living" and "True West." Wise holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Arizona State University.