Your Year Around Flower and Garden Guide

Blueberry Basics, Growing Whith Ease

Blueberries - Easy as long as you keep the basics in mind

Along with lip-smacking sweetness, flower and foliage are also worthy reasons to grow blueberries.

I think growing berries in general is a very satisfying undertaking. White, bell-shaped blossoms make a lovely addition to a spring garden and fiery scarlet foliage adds drama to a fading autumn landscape.

In addition to taste and appearance, blueberries are ripe with medical advantages; they help lower cholesterol and studies suggest that blueberries also reduce the risk of some cancers.

The family of the Blueberry has a few distinct members

Highbush blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum) are those usually found in the produce department of your grocery. As you might expect, they are named because the bushes grow to 6-feet in height.

Fruits are large, from to an inch in diameter. Depending on variety, highbush blueberries are hardy from Zones 4 through 11.

Lowbush blueberries (Vaccinium angustifolium) generally reach no more than 18-inches in height. Propagated from shoots spread through underground runners, lowbush blueberries form low mats of plants that produce best on a two-year cycle. The first year is the growth year and the second year is the fruiting year. The sweet, quarter-inch fruits of lowbush blueberries commonly are known as Wild Blueberries and are hardy in Zones 3 through 6.

Half-high blueberries (V. corymbosum x V. angustifolium) are a hybrid between lowbush and highbush cultivars. Although shorter than high-bush blueberries, half-high grow in much the same way as their taller relatives. Taste and size meet halfway between highbush and lowbush. An extra advantage for the northern grower is that half-high blueberries were especially bred to withstand the heavy snowfalls and cold winters of inland North America and are hardy to Zone 3.

Rabbiteye blueberries (Vaccinium ashei), native to the Southeastern United States, are the tallest of the blueberry bushes, reaching up to 10-feet in height. Because of their thick skins, rabbiteye blueberries are able to withstand southern heat in zones seven through nine.