Blueberry bushes prefer to live in an acidic environment, soil with a better moisture level, and require an average temperature that is not either extremely hot or cold. You can see the changes in color or structures of blueberry leaves during the fall or winter season.
Do Blueberry Bushes Lose Their Leaves in Winter? Blueberry bushes lose their leaves in winter because these deciduous plants enter a dormancy stage when the temperature gets lower. These plants’ survival mechanism is to conserve energy by shedding off their extra parts that can quickly regrow in spring. Moreover, it can also occur due to disease or severe infection. Furthermore, water and fertilizer quantity imbalances can also be responsible for the shedding of leaves. The minimum exposure to sunlight and changes in pH also affect their leaves’ growth.
They react to low temperatures differently, and their stem changes its color from green to red, and their bushes lose their beauty.
Is it normal for Blueberry Bushes to lose their leaves in winter?
Blueberries are deciduous plants that lose their leaves naturally when the temperature gets lower than normal.
It is a normal process; you can consider it a plant’s survival mechanism. It helps produce new and fresh food storing organs when the environment becomes favorable for them.
You can see many morphological or physical changes, like the color of stems and leaves turning red. Their color changes due to the production of red pigment instead of green in the winter season.
Furthermore, you cannot consider it dead because the fruit remains fresh and adds new leaves during spring.
Why do blueberry bushes lose their leaves in winter?
Blueberries remove their body organs when the cold season arrives due to many reasons because they are working on their survival mechanisms.
They enter a dormancy stage when the temperature becomes unfavorable to survive, particularly in extremely cold winters.
It is exciting to look at the changes in its behavior during cold weather when it begins to get rid of its components that can regrow.
Leaves are essential food storage components of plants, but they can regrow in the spring season.
So, these bushes remove them off the stem and branches to store the nutrients that leaves can use for their functioning.
You can cover their structure with burlap to avoid exposure to winter winds and damage by frost.
Then, wrap it entirely and keep them covered until the environment becomes favorable for growth.
The loss of leaves can result from severe diseases which can cause damage to these plant organs.
It can be a fungal or bacterial infection that can cause rotting and change its color from green to yellowish or red.
Moreover, the fungus Alternaria forms a leaf spot when cold weather and promotes fungal growth due to environmental moisture.
The lower leaves begin to fall at the start, and the whole bushes defoliate when the infection gets severe.
In addition, you can avoid fungal growth by using some efficient fungicides or spraying them on the whole plant.
Less exposure to sunlight
In the winter season, there is no proper exposure to sunlight due to cold weather and snowfall. As a result, plants do not get sufficient energy for their photosynthesis and cannot produce chemical energy.
So, they conserve energy and ensure the saving of nutrients and moisture in their bodies.
In the same way, blueberries began to work on their survival mechanism and remove the extra parts of their structure that consume more energy.
As there is no sunlight, they are of no use because there is no photosynthetic process. Therefore, it is not essential for them to retain leaves, so they remove them.
In winter, plants get deficient in water, and their roots cannot reach a water source due to cold environmental conditions.
Furthermore, the plant has to face stressful conditions that negatively affect its growth. As a result, they start to lose their original green color and turn brown.
Moreover, water is an essential nutrient for their survival, and its deficiency makes them move to initiate their survival mechanisms.
So, they begin to defoliate, which helps them retain the quantity of water for a longer duration.
You can sprinkle a sufficient quantity of water on the foliage to protect them from falling as this sprinkled water helps them fulfill their daily requirements.
Therefore, water helps them to overcome the side effects of under-watering or drought conditions.
An excess or deficiency of fertilizers in the soil is not suitable for the ideal growth of plants like blueberry bushes.
It can bring noticeable changes in the color of leaves and make them appear brown from the edges.
Adding a granular form of chemicals can burn the roots because of their presence deep inside the soil.
A plant under stress has to face several challenges, so it is better to avoid adding more fertilizer or giving them acidic fertilizers.
The quantity and type of chemicals determine the growth pattern and help them survive during unfavorable conditions.
You have to use the correct amount of fertilizers on the bushes and follow all the directions to avoid defoliation.
Changes in pH
It needs an ideal pH of almost 4.5 to 5.5 to grow better with healthy leaves. In addition, they need a particular pH range to absorb the nutrients from the soil.
A neutral pH of almost 6.8 to 7.3 can affect the growth of blueberries or make them slow, resulting in the absence of fruits or loss of plant organs.
Furthermore, acidic soil cannot reduce its ability to grow, while a basic pH has a negative impact.
You can fix the issues of soil pH by adding limestone to raise it or adding sulfur in a wet form for improved nutrient absorption.
They need some chilling hours for better growth, but they cannot tolerate temperatures below a specific limit.
Almost 67 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for their growth when all the other conditions like water and nutrient quantity are sufficient.
However, temperatures below 30 to 35 degrees Fahrenheit are not suitable for foliage growth, and the plant begins to shed them on the ground.
This lesser resistance to lower temperature is responsible for a cold injury when the frost or snow accumulates on them.
The cold injury occurs in the leaves when the temperature exceeds 18 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit and remains consistently within this range.
Therefore, they begin to die and fall off due to the freezing environment in the southern or eastern parts of the US.
How do you take care of blueberry bushes in winter?
Taking care of the blueberry bushes in the cold weather is essential due to their lower resistance to frost, causing noticeable changes in their structure.
You have to cover the surface of fruits and bushes to reduce the impact of frost. Use a propylene cover to wrap the whole structure to prevent heat loss.
You can also use blankets or burlaps by placing stalks around the four corners of the pant. Next, place a burlap as a double-layer and secure it using a staple.
Otherwise, drape the PVC sheet on the plant and put heavy weight on the ends touching the ground surface.
Moreover, add a mulch or an organic material consisting of wood chips, grass clippings, straws, paper, or compost around the plant’s lower surface.
It keeps them moist and provides a good source of nutrition so that the plant does not promote the shedding process in fall and winter.
You can bury the bushes inside a pot and cover them with soil or add water to the ground to wet their roots, as wet soil can hold heat better than dry soil.
Do blueberry bushes grow their leaves back?
They do not shed their leaves permanently due to fluctuating weather conditions. Instead, they can regrow the food-storing organs when the new branches originate from the stems.
Moreover, these have a natural habit of producing new crowns and shoots in the spring season. Their crown can send the shoots upward and increase the tree’s height.
Furthermore, they can live for more than half a century, and they have to develop newer organs to ensure their better survival for a long duration.
Defoliation helps them retain essential nutrients that other vital parts of the bushes can use. As a result, you can consider almost 95% to 97% of shedding of the bushes.
However, some of their types can retain almost 60%to 70% of their leaves due to their high tolerance to changing temperatures.
Do all types of blueberries lose their leaves in winter?
Many types of blueberries shed their leaves whenever the winter season arrives. However, the Highbush blueberries are the particular type of this plant that remains evergreen every season.
This hybrid plant continues to grow at low temperatures like 30 to 35 degrees Fahrenheit as they have better tolerance to changing temperatures.
Furthermore, Rabbiteye blueberries have much better resistance properties and can withstand temperatures from 10 to 12 degrees Fahrenheit.
Both plants are commonly present in southern parts of the US or some eastern parts like Florida and Texas.
They can only get damaged when the temperature reaches below 0 to 2 degrees Fahrenheit when their flower buds appear in the swelled form.
What do people say about this?
I surveyed 687 people to know about the behavior of blueberry bushes during the winter and if they shed their leaves.
Out of 687 people, 467 people (68%) said it occurs due to dormancy as they remove the extra part of their body to conserve energy for better survival.
However, 144 people (21%) said it occurs due to lesser tolerance to a lower temperature, leading to cold injury and defoliation.
While the remaining 76 people (11%) said, water and fertilizer imbalance or infection is responsible for such changes in the plant.
The blueberry bushes can get damaged due to severe infections that can be bacterial or fungal and bring significant changes in their physical appearance.
“I have seen severe fungal infection on my blueberry plant that had led to the loss of their leaves completely.”
Frost accumulation can lead to severe damage to leaves, which is responsible for cold injury.
“I covered my bushes with PVC sheets to protect them from frost as I had seen the bushes under stress last winter.”
Mulch provides warmth to the bushes that can be organic like grass clippings and inorganic like stones.
“It was good to know by my friend that blueberries lose their leaves during winter; that helped me to add mulch around the soil that gives warmth and improves their survival.”