Blueberries are a healthful and popular fruit. Labeled a "superfood" because of the fruits' high antioxidant component, their unique flavor makes them popular in jellies, jams and pies. Eat them ripe off the vine for a sweet treat or throw them in a juicer for a smoothie. Blueberries are also low in calories and contain no cholesterol, making them good for you. When blueberries are infected with diseases or have an insect problem, the berries and bush can have serious problems. Frost as well as harsh weather can have a detrimental effect on the plant's life.
Always test the soil for pH, proper nutrients, and organic matter before planting. Blueberry plants require a specific pH level to thrive. The soil ideally should range from 4.5 to 5.5. To increase the soil pH, add limestone. For lowering pH levels, add granular sulfur to the soil. This will allow the blueberry to thrive and produce fruit.
If the blueberry plant experiences a heavy frost, the plant could be compromised. Before a hard frost, always cover the blueberry plants with a large tarp or ground cover. For smaller crops, use old milk jugs or tin cans. Watch out for approaching conditions that lead to frost and always have these items on hand for a last-minute winter storm.
Insects can have a huge impact on the growth and longevity of a blueberry bush. The blueberry tip borer can devastate a blueberry plant, leading to death of the bush. Adult moths emerge after the blueberry bush blooms and lay their eggs on the shoots of the bush. The young larvae create a tunnel into the shoot and feed on the insides of the stem. A small hole can be observed where they enter the plant. While they feed, the stem begins to wilt and the leaves dry out and drop off.
Fungal diseases can strike the blueberry plant and devastate it. The fungal disease called mummy berry produces shoot blight or browning of the leaves' veins. The leaves then wilt and bend and a gray powdery layer of spores begins to grow at the base of the leaf. When the berries begin to ripen, the infected ones appear pink. They feel rubbery on the outside, and when cut open, contain a dark black fungal mass. Later, the berries fade and shrivel up.