Pine Needles Keep Soil pH Acidic For Blueberries

Are you growing blueberries in your organic garden? I’ve got a few blueberry plants growing in 10″ pots. We’ll be moving soon, so I didn’t want to put them in the ground and I was curious to how well they’d grow and fruit in pots.

I potted them up into the 10″ pots about 6 months ago – so early spring here in South Australia. They really took off ( I always fertilizer – with organic slow release pellets – when I pot up ) over spring, were flowering in summer and we had a nice handfull of fruit from each plant late summer. Not bad for plants that are only about a year or 18 months old.

I think one of the reasons they did so well, given that they need a pH around 4.5 to 5, was that I added pine needles as a mulch around the top of each plant (being careful not to get the mulch too close to the stems). Then each month or two I throw coffee grounds (not hot!) on top of the pine needles.

So every time I water, some acidity is watered through the pots, keeping the soil beautifully acid – just the way blueberries like it. I’ll probably refresh the pine needles when I put them in the ground, once we move to our new property, which I’ll tell you about soon.

Blueberries are a superfood – they are extremely good for you, so if you have the right climate, give them a go.

Just by the way, both rhododendrons and azaleas love acidic soils too, so you can use this method on them and they’ll really reward you for your time.

Happy Organic Gardening, Healthy Living…

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11 Responses to “Pine Needles Keep Soil pH Acidic For Blueberries”

  1. Hi,

    I just wanted to ask – did you put one plant per one 10″ pot? Or did you plant several blueberry plants in one pot?
    We have blueberries in forests here, so I might just as well as grow a few of them in my garden as well :)

    Best wishes,
    Kristi

  2. Hi Kristi,
    yes, I just have one plant per pot. A 10″ pot isn’t that big – you want the roots to be able to spread out a bit and not to become root bound during the year or so that they’ll stay in it.
    If I wanted to continue growing them in pots long term, the next size pot I would pot them into (early spring) would be at least a 14 or 15″ pot. You need to give them some room to grow.

    warmly,
    Julie

  3. Hi, I have a question for you. If you are using pine needles as mulch, does that mean they would grow well near or under pine trees? My yard has a very large pine tree and we are surrounded by several more. My yard is always full of pine needles and things under the pine tree don’t grow as well. I was told it was something the pine trees do to the soil.

    Thanks, Amber

  4. Hi Amber,
    I don’t think they’d grow that well directly under pine trees as they create too much shade. Blueberries need to grow with at least 6 – 8 hours sunlight, preferably morning to mid-afternoon.
    Pine tree roots tend to become thickly matted and will choke most other plants out, and the other reason most things don’t grow under them is because they exude a chemical that inhibits seeds from germinating.
    That’s not a problem if you’re just using the needles as mulch, providing you’re not using it for seed raising!
    Probably best not to grow anything close to pine trees at all as there roots can spread out quite a distance and then they take over the soil.
    Hope this helps,

    Julie

  5. Thanks very much!

    Amber

  6. Here blueberries grow in the forests where the main (and sometimes only) trees are pine trees. Also moss and heather and other things like that grow there.

    Kristi

  7. Blueberries are just catching on in the UK. Thanks for a really useful post.
    TopVeg

  8. how do i get the soil for my blue berries to stay 4.5/5.3 and wut could i buy for them to keep them that way?

  9. what is the name of chemical produced by pine needles that inhibit the growth of other plants?

  10. My grandparents are trying to grow some out in MI. They don’t seem to be doing that well. I remembered this post from a long time ago and I think we’ll give this a try. Thank you for this useful post.

  11. Oak and pine tree mulches are great for my high bush blueberries in New Hampshire. I piled on the mulch and they got very dark green.

    Here in New Hampshire, it’s better to get the early ripening varieties because the others don’t do as well.

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