Blueberries Simplified

Four simple steps to select the right varieties for your landscape and garden.

Blueberries are simple and fun to grow.  For some, the perception is that they are complicated and they’re really not.  Our goal is to demystify and simplify blueberries so anyone can find success growing these amazing plants.  One area that seems to cause confusion is how to select varieties.  What should you plant when it comes to blueberries?

There are really four simple things to consider when selecting varieties for your situation:

#1  CHILL HOURS

Certain varieties of plants need a specific length of time in dormancy – specifically, in temperatures below 45 degrees – to set fruit.  Blueberries that fall into the “High Chill” category are called Northern Highbush and they need cooler winters to thrive.

If you live in a warmer climate such as California or Florida, a “Low Chill” variety called Southern Highbush are likely your best bet.

Here’s a simple way to look at this:

Most “High Chill” Northern Highbush varieties require:                                   800-1,000 Chill Hours

Most “Low Chill” Southern Highbush varieties require:                                   150-800 Chill Hours

Here is a great map for determining your chill hours:   http://www.raintreenursery.com/chill_hours.cfm

Once you have an idea of the number of chill areas in your region, you’ll know if you should select from the Northern or Southern Highbush family of varieties which are featured separately in our Variety Charts.

 

#2  ZONE

Most people that garden are familiar with garden zones. Geographical regions are broken into like areas based on the high and low temperatures. These common areas are given zone numbers.

The National Gardening Association has a great USDA Hardiness Zone Map that is searchable by zipcode.

Sunset Magazine has a more specific regional map which takes into consideration regional micro-climates.

Once you know your zone, our Blueberry Variety Charts will reference in what zones each variety will perform best.   

Want to make it even easier? Just stop by your local garden center. They will have the varieties best suited to your region.

 

#3 PLANT CHARACTERISTICS

All blueberry varieties have an array of outstanding characteristics.  Our Variety Charts will provide great insight into the qualities each variety offers  from when they fruit, size of the berry,  bush shape and more.  In addition, the experts here at Fall Creek have given one choice “Outstanding Characteristic” to each variety. Looking for a variety to add to your landscape?  Or perhaps you want to bake lots of blueberry muffins!  Look for these symbols to know what one attribute we think is extra special about each variety:

   

Berry Taste

              

Heavy Fruit Yield

Well-Suited As A Container Plant

Strong Landscape Qualities

Perfect For Baking

 

 

 

 

#4 EARLY, MID & LATE FRUITING – Ensure You Have a Full Season Of Fruit!

Here’s one of the best tips of all:  Different blueberry varieties ripen at different times throughout the fruiting season.  We refer to varieties as being early-season, mid-season and late-season fruiting.  Simply by selecting a cross section of varieties, you can extend your fruit harvest up to several months.  Refer to the third “Season” column in our Variety Charts  to determine whether they are early, mid or late fruiting and then select a cross section of varieties.

We hope this takes away some of the mystery of blueberries. Learning your area’s chill hours and zone, will direct you to the right category of varieties and then knowing what blueberry plant and berry characteristics matter to you will help you focus your selections.  Then just remember to plant a few varieties that offer an extended fruit season and you’ll have just the right mix suited to your needs!


A NOTE TO HOME GARDENERS:  We regret that we don’t have staff available to respond to home gardening questions on the phone or by email. If you have more questions, please contact your local garden center or extension agents. They’re the experts in your area.