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Along with strawberries and watermelon, blueberries are the quintessential representation of summertime. There’s nothing quite like munching on a bowl of fresh blueberries. These deliciously sweet fruits are the perfect addition to salads, ice cream, yogurt, cereal, pies, cakes, waffles, or refreshing beverages. This is food versatility at its utmost.
How to Identify Blueberries
When identifying blueberries, look for these key features:
- Small and spherical-shaped fruits
- Fruits that grow on bushes
- Fruits that are bluish to purple in color
- Fruits that have a thin powdery layer on their skins
- Leaves that are glossy
- Leaves that are bluish-green to green during the spring and summer
- Leaves that have a red tint in the fall
- Leaves that are shaped like an egg
- Leaves that fall off the plant in fall and winter
- Flower buds that are shaped like teardrops
- Flowers that are shaped like bells
- Flowers that blossom in clusters of 5 to 10 blooms
Popular Types & Varieties
Blueberries are a New World fruit, but they do have a cousin that grows in Europe and Asia known as bilberries. Altogether, there are around 150 varieties of blueberries and bilberries across the world. Some of these varieties are edible, but some are not.
To keep things simple, we are going to examine only a few blueberry varieties. To help organize these varieties, they will be listed in categories called lowbush, highbush, half-high, and rabbiteye. Let’s look at each of these now.
This category of blueberry plants is a hybrid of highbush and lowbush varieties. Half-high blueberries are an excellent choice for growing in containers since they do not get very large and don’t require a lot of pruning.
Varieties of Half-high Blueberries include:
This blueberry variety is a winter-hardy plant that only grows between 10 and 18 inches tall. It produces medium-sized berries that are sky blue in color.
This blueberry variety is a hardy plant that grows between 36 and 40 inches tall. It produces mildly sweet berries that are light blue in color.
This blueberry variety ripens during the mid to late season and produces small to medium berries. These blueberries taste like wild blueberries and are excellent to use in many recipes.
This blueberry variety is compact in size, cold-hardy, and perennial. It produces medium to large berries that are sweet and can be used in baked goods.
This category of blueberry plants contains the most common varieties. The blueberries in this grouping are typically very large and plump. Highbush blueberries grow best in areas that have chilly winters and acidic soil.
Varieties of Highbush Blueberries include:
This blueberry variety produces berries that are light blue in color and are firm.
This blueberry variety is a favored type grown in Michigan and with mechanical harvesting methods. It produces mid-sized berries that are firm.
This blueberry variety is a very widely planted bush that ripens early. It produces berries that are firm and grow in open clusters.
This blueberry variety grows up to six feet tall and produces berries that are light blue and firm.
This category of blueberry plants is native to the northern United States and the southeastern provinces of Canada. The berries produced from lowbush blueberries are generally small but intensely flavorful. Because they are often found in the wild, many shops advertise lowbush blueberries as wild blueberries.
Varieties of Lowbush Blueberries include:
This blueberry variety grows into a compact bush that gets no bigger than two feet tall. It is a beautiful plant even when it isn’t blooming because its foliage turns a vibrant orange color in the fall. It produces berries that are firm and a dark bluish-purple color.
This blueberry variety grows well in mountains regions. This is also a showy plant that has colorful red foliage in autumn. It produces bluish-black berries in late summer or early fall.
This category of blueberry plants is more frequently grown in the southeastern United States. They grow very large bushes, sometimes up to 6 feet tall.
Varieties of Rabbiteye Blueberries include:
This blueberry variety grows bushes that are between 6 and 10 feet tall. It produces large, light blue berries that typically ripen in late May. These are a popular variety grown in the southeastern United States.
This blueberry variety is best grown in the southeastern United States. It produces berries that are large and powder blue in color.
This blueberry variety produces medium-sized berries that are both sweet and aromatic.
This blueberry variety grows bushes that are up to six feet tall. It produces a crop of berries late in the season. The berries are small to medium in size with a slightly acidic taste.
How to Grow Blueberries from Seed
- Purchase seeds from a reputable seller
- Place sphagnum moss in a seed tray
- Moisten the sphagnum moss
- Set the blueberry seeds in the moistened sphagnum moss
- Cover the seeds with a ¼ inch of the sphagnum moss
- Keep the seeds moist
- Keep the seeds warm (between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Sprouts should appear between 6 to 12 weeks after sowing
- Once sprouts are 2 inches tall, they can be thinned out and transplanted to a sunny spot with acidic soil
When to Plant Blueberries
Blueberries can be planted from mid-spring through summer.
Best Blueberry Fertilizer
Blueberry plants should be fertilized sometime in the spring before they have grown leaves. They only need to be fertilized once a year. The best types of fertilizers for blueberry plants are those that contain a higher amount of nitrogen.
Since blueberry plants are sensitive to soil composition and pH levels, it is best to test the soil before applying fertilizer, whether organic or chemical. Recommended organic fertilizers are:
- Bone Meal
- Down to Earth All Natural Acid Mix Fertilizer
- Fertrell Berry Mix Organic Fertilizer
- Powdered Seaweed
Blueberry Soil Requirements
Blueberry plants require soil that is acidic. The soil should have a pH level ranging between 4.5 and 4.8. Soil can be tested using a Soil pH Meter. Soil can be made more acidic by adding the following to it:
Blueberry Light Requirements
Blueberry plants require full sun throughout most of the day. They can benefit from a little shade during the latter part of the day.
Blueberry Water Requirements
Blueberry plants should be watered thoroughly with 1 to 2 inches of slow-flowing water every 10 to 12 days.
Best Blueberry Companion Plantings
When looking for a companion planting to set next to a blueberry bush, it is important to consider whether or not the companion plant can thrive in acidic soil. Here is a selection of plants, fruits, and vegetables that either tolerate or love acidic soil as well:
Common Pests and Diseases
Blueberry plants are just like every other plant: they face pests and diseases. The best way to deal with these is to learn what they are and how an infestation can be detected and prevented. Here are some of the most common types of pests and diseases that attack blueberry plants:
- Blueberry Maggot or Fruit Fly
- Botrytis Blight
- Brown Rot
- Gray Mold
- Japanese beetle
- Lybus Bugs
- Mummy Berry
- Powdery Mildew
Blueberry Treatments and Maintenance
This fungal infection shows up on bark as cankers and on fruit as brown spots with centers that are gray and sunken. To deal with this infestation, apply a fungicide to the plant.
This type of insect can be found in clusters on leaves and stems. They suck sap from plants and leave honeydew trails. To deal with this infestation, apply an insecticide to the plant.
Blueberry Maggot or Fruit Fly
This insect attacks ripe fruit by creating holes in it so that it can lay its eggs. To deal with this infestation, apply an insecticide to the plant or set out a trap.
This type of mold causes blossoms and fruit to decay and grow gray and hairy mold. To deal with this infestation, apply a fungicide to the plant.
Symptoms of this problem are wilted blossom tips and fruits that are hard, dark, and leathery. To deal with this problem, remove all infected fruits and keep debris away from the plant to prevent another infestation.
This fungal infection shows up on plants as a grayish-brown coating that causes leaves and stems to wilt. To deal with this infestation, apply a fungicide to the plant and consider these preventative measures:
- Remove stems, leaves, and fruit that have been infected
- Remove debris from around the plant
- Only water the soil of the plant rather than its leaves
This insect is a metallic green color that eats leaves while its larvae munch on roots. To deal with this infestation, apply an insecticide to the plant.
This is a small winged insect that typically attacks the bottom side of leaves. It will cause the plant to slow in growth and its leaves to wither. To deal with this infestation, apply an insecticide to the plant.
This type of insect is small and oval-shaped. They suck sap from plants creating leaves and stems that are curled and deformed. To deal with this infestation, apply an insecticide to the plant.
This is a tiny insect that feeds on the sap of plants until leaves turn bronze. Infestations that are severe will have silk webbing attached to the plant. To deal with this infestation, apply an insecticide to the plant.
This fungal infestation causes flowers to turn brown and berries to turn tan or gray. To deal with this infestation, apply a fungicide to the plant.
This is a mold infestation that looks like a white powder covering stems and fruit. To deal with this infestation, apply an insecticide to the plant and keep debris away from the plant after the harvest season has ended.
It is the larvae of this insect that cause plants the most damage because they feed on leaves. To deal with this infestation, apply an insecticide to the plant.
This insect consumes sap from plants. To deal with this infestation, apply an insecticide to the plant. A small infestation can be removed by spraying the plant with water from a hose.
This type of insect can damage plants by laying eggs in new blooms. To deal with this infestation, apply an insecticide to the plant.
This type of insect attacks flowers, leaves, and buds when they are adults, but attacks the root system while in the larva stage. To deal with this infestation, apply an insecticide to the plant.
Where to Purchase Blueberry Plants Online
Find a great selection of blueberry plants at these online shops:
Answer: It depends on which variety is being planted. Blueberry plants that are in the Lowbush category grow best in zones 3 to 6. Blueberry plants that are in the Highbush category grow best in zones 3 to 5. Blueberry plants that are in the Rabbiteye category grow best in zones 4 to 7.
This plant produces tiny black berries that can resemble a blueberry if not carefully scrutinized. These are poisonous and can kill a person if large quantities are consumed. Here is how to tell the difference between a nightshade berry and an edible blueberry:
• Blueberries taste sweet, while nightshade berries taste bitter.
• Blueberries grow on woody shrubs, while nightshade berries grow on long green vines.
• Blueberries typically have a powdery layer on their skin, while nightshade berries are shiny.
This is another very poisonous plant that produces berries that look similar to edible blueberries. While animals can and do eat these without suffering any ill effects, humans cannot. A small amount can kill a child and it doesn’t take much more to kill an adult. Here is how to tell the difference between a pokeweed plant berry and an edible blueberry:
• Blueberries grow on woody shrubs, while pokeweed berries grow on bright purple stalks
• Blueberries grow in a random pattern on bushes, while pokeweed berries grow in a grape-like cluster
Answer: Captan is an excellent fungicide that can be applied to various types of fruits and vegetables to prevent infestations.
Answer: Neem oil sprays are an excellent organic insecticide to use on fruit and vegetable plants.
Answer: It is not necessary to plant blueberry bushes in pairs, but it does benefit the blueberries through cross-pollination.
Blueberry plants grow wonderfully delicious fruits that you can enjoy all year round. Just imagine all the recipes you can enjoy by growing your own crop of blueberries. Now that you know that these plants are rather easy to care for, why not get inspired to grow them in your garden and experiment with them in your kitchen?