Five Types of Blueberry Plants and Their Characteristics

Introduction

There are five types of blueberry plants commonly grown. This article list and discusses these and their characteristics. Some examples of popular varieties for each type is also listed.

1. : Northern Highbush Vaccinium corymbosum — These are high chill varieties for zones 3-7 with 800 to 1,000 chill hours needed. The Northern Highbush Blueberry is a species of blueberry native to eastern northern United States. They are high chill varieties and are the most extensively planted blueberries in the world. If these northern high-bush varieties do not get the required number of chill hours they will not produce. These bushes are rated zone 3 through zone 7 which includes most of the Central, Western, mid-West, and Eastern United States as well as some parts of Canada. These varieties display bush shapes from short and compact to tall and open. The berries range in size from ¼” to over 1″ in diameter, and in color from dark blue to light blue. Northern Highbush blueberries require a minimum of 800 chilling hours for proper fruit set. All cultivars are self-pollinating but will produce better crops if more than one variety is planted.

Some examples include:

  • Bluecrop is recommended for growing in zones 4 to 7.
  • Bluegold is also sometimes listed as a half high variety because of it short height and parentage. It is recommended for growing in zones 4 to 7.
  • Blueray is recommended for growing in zones 3 to 7.
  • Duke is recommended for growing in zones 4 to 7.
  • Elliott is recommended for growing in zones 4 to 7.
  • Hardyblue is recommended for growing in zones 4 to 8.
  • Jersey is recommended for growing in zones 4 to 7.
  • Legacy is recommended for growing in zones 5 to 8.
  • Patriot is also sometimes listed as a half high variety because of it short height and parentage. It is recommended for growing in zones 3 to 7.
  • Rubel is a wild Highbush type cultivar. It is recommended for growing in zones4 to 7.

2.: Southern Highbush (Vaccinium corymbosum hybrid) — Southern Highbush are specifically hybridized to produce superior fruit, soil adaptability, heat tolerance and low winter chilling. The Southern Highbush blueberry is a cross between Northern Highbush blueberries and native Southern species, giving it a greater range of adaptation than either of its parents. The Southern Highbush tolerates a wider range of soil conditions and temperature variations. The fruits are smaller than Rabbiteye blueberries but no less tasty.These are low chill varieties for use in zones 5 to 10 with 150 to 800 chill hours required. Most Southern Highbush are self-pollinating, but the berries will be larger if two varieties are planted together. These varieties have low winter chilling requirements. “Chilling” is a measure of accumulated hours of temperatures below 45°F but above 32 degrees F in the dormant season.

Some examples include:

  • Jubilee is recommended for growing in zones 5 to 9.
  • Misty is recommended for growing in zones 5 to 10.
  • Oneal is recommended for growing in zones 5 to 9.
  • Sharpblue is recommended for growing in zones 7 to 9.
  • Sunshine Blue is recommended for growing in zones 5 to 10.
  • Golf coast is recommended for growing in zones 6 to10.
  • Ozarkblue is recommended for growing in zones 5 to 9.

3. : Half-High Blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum x V. angustifolium)
Half-High Blueberries is a term used for a grouping of blueberry bushes with similar characteristics They are the result, as the name might signify, of crosses between Northern Highbush and Lowbush blueberries selections from the wild.. They will grow only 2 to 4 feet tall. These are generally high chill varieties for Zones 3 to 7 and need 1,000 to 1,200 of chill hours. In recent years, Agriculture Research Stations have released many new “half-high” blueberry plants. All these varieties have the “wild” flavor of their parents. The Half-Highs were bred for exceptional cold hardiness but are truly outstanding ornamental landscape plants wherever they are grown. All theses varieties have amazing fall colors. In general, these bushes will partially be able to pollinate themselves, though they will always do better with another variety with which they can to cross-pollinate.

Some examples include:

  • Northcountry– Its parentage is (G65X Ashworth) X R2P4 Univ. of Minnesota. It grows successfully in zones 3 to 7.
  • Northsky–.Its parentage is (G65 X Ashworth) X R2P4 Univ. of Minnesota. It grows successfully in zones 3 to 7.
  • Northland – Its source is Michigan Univ. It grows successfully in zones 3 to 7.
  • Polaris – Its parentage is Bluetta X (G65 X Ashworth). It grows successfully in zones 3 to 7.
  • Bluegold — Its parentage is Blue Haven X (Ashworth X Bluecrop). It grows successfully in zones 4 to 7.
  • Friendship – Its source is a Seedling of native plant found growing near Friendship, WI. It grows successfully in zones 3 to 7.
  • Patriot – Its parentage is US3 X Earliblue Univ. of Maine. It grows successfully in zones 3 to 7.

4. : Wild Lowbush Blueberries (Vaccinium angustifolium sp.) these are high chill varieties for zones 3 to 7 and need 1,000 to 1,200 chill hours. Wild Lowbush Blueberries are a native fruit crop to Atlantic Canada, Quebec and the state of Maine. Wild Blueberries have grown naturally for thousands of years. They are short in stature and unlike their Highbush cousins, are primarily spread by rhizomes or underground runners, which give rise to new roots and stems. A mature planting can form a dense ground cover. Profuse white blooms yield small-sized light blue fruit with the distinctive “wild” blueberry taste. Annual pruning is not necessary but they respond well if two-thirds of the growth is sheared back every second or third year in late winter. They are great candidates for landscape borders.

Some examples include:

  • Top Hat is Lowbush, dwarf type cultivar. Top Hat is strictly used for ornamental landscape and container purposes. It is recommended for growing in zones 3-7.
  • RUBY CARPET is a Lowbush selection developed by the state of Maine. It is recommended for growing in zones 3-7. The height of plants will be 4 to 6 inches at maturity and spread outward to create the red carpet.

5. Rabbiteye blueberries, Vaccinium ashei These are low chill varieties for Zones 7 to 9.
Rabbiteye blueberries have grown in popularity all across the South. Part of the reason for the popularity of rabbiteye blueberries may be that few major pests of rabbiteye blueberries have been identified. Rabbiteye varieties are resident to the southeastern United States.Rabbiteye plants are more vigorous, easier to be cared for and live longer, than the majority of southern variety. They can handle drought superior to Highbush blueberries. They can grow adequately in soils with a lower amount of organic material in them. Rabbiteye blueberries are usually firmer than southern varieties with thicker skin. The seeds tend to be somewhat more distinct than Highbush. Their after harvest shelf life is exceptional and usually superior to Highbush. The demand for blueberries has increased as more is known about the health benefits of blueberries. Southerners have often not discovered the outstanding quality of rabbiteye blueberries.

Pest of rabbiteye blueberries

A gall midge, is a newly discovered pest of rabbiteye blueberries in the southeastern US. Midge larvae feed inside and destroy flower buds the result is low yields. Rabbiteye blueberry cultivars differ very much in their resistance to blueberry gall midge infestation. Powderblue and Brightwell are highly resistant to flower bud damage; Climax, and Tifblue are moderately susceptible; and Premier is highly susceptible. Most southern Highbush blueberry cultivars are highly resistant to flower bud damage.

Some examples include:

  • Premier- It is an early mid-season ripening rabbiteye producing high yields of firm delicious fruits. They are recommended for growing in zones 7 to 9.
  • Climax- It is a mid-season ripening blueberry with great flavor! The fruits are firm and an excellent choice for fresh and process markets. They are recommended for growing in zones 7 to 9.
  • Powderblue- It is one of the most attractive rabbiteye blueberries that is late maturing. The fruits are medium size and easily removed from the plant. The flavor is sweet. They are recommended for growing in zones 7 to 9.
  • Brightwell- It is a late ripening berry with excellent quality. Flavor is good the fruit size and berry appearance is attractive for fresh markets. They are recommended for growing in zones 7 to 9.
  • Tifblue- It is a late ripening variety. Tifblue has been the most widely planted blueberry in the southeast, because it is productive and has firm fruit. They are recommended for growing in zones 7 to 9.

Summary

There are a number of different types of blueberries that are suitable for different purposes and growing zones. The one thing they all have in common is their high antioxidant capacity and health benefits. You should grow your own pesticide free blueberries. They can be purchased from a reputable on-line source. Purchase those that are best suited for your growing zone.