Blueberry bush

Dear Lynn

A couple of weeks ago I noticed that one blueberry bush planted in a large-ish pot was starting to die off it was coming on fine there had been good blossom and the berries were formed now bush is totally dead. A few daye later the other bush done exactly the same thing. They were 5/6 year old bushes and stood either side of my greenhouse door??
Any idea what problem could have been thought the winter last year might have been cause but with going through the process of blossom and berries starting stumps me. My other bushes in ground at the allotment are doing ok but not more than that.


Dear Willie

How annoying that this has happened to your blueberry bushes after they seemed to be doing so well.  This is certainly bizarre and something I haven’t come across before but a bit of delving has come up with a couple of things that could be affecting your plants.

It is possible that the cold winter has had an effect – if you have had fluctuating spring temperatures in your area this can result in plants looking normal until temperatures rise in late spring. New growth and fruiting clusters suddenly collapse and die.

Alternatively it could also be some thing called Blueberry shock ilarvirus.  The virus is dispersed by infected pollen carried by bees and infection occurs only during bloom.    The symptoms are very similar to those of scorch being sudden complete flower and leaf necrosis (death!).  A second flush of foliage occurs later in the season (without any fruit) so it may be possible that these plants will recover.  I would move them somewhere out of the way and keep an eye on them rather than disposing of them straight away.  If they show no signs of recovery remove and destroy the plants at the end of the summer.

Symptomless infected plants remain a source of infection so I would suggest keeping an eye on your other plants but as they are in a different location they may be ok.

Hope this helps.
Kind Regards

Lynn Burton - Horticultural Adviser