Vaccinium corymbosum (Highbush Blueberry), Vaccinium angustifolium (Lowbush Blueberry), Vaccinium ashei (Rabbiteye Blueberry), Vaccinium macrocarpon (Cranberry)
Blueberries (Vaccinium) make excellent ornamental edibles. Evergreen or deciduous shrubs, they are worthy of inclusion in the garden where they offer multiple seasons of interest. Easy to grow and rewarding, they produce charming bell-shaped flowers in spring, and their beautiful foliage turns fantastic shades of gold, red, or purple in fall. Not to forget their delicious and juicy berries which are very rich in antioxidants and other nutrients and can be enjoyed in desserts, smoothies, or fresh on the bush. Vacciniums are easy to grow and not prone to insect or disease issues. They can be successfully grown in any size garden or planted in containers provided they are grown in acidic soil.
Types of Blueberries
- Vaccinium corymbosum (Highbush Blueberry)
Native to eastern North America - shrub and major blueberry producing species in commerce. Over 50 cultivars have been developed. Northern highbush varieties grow in hardiness zones 4-7. Southern varieties grow in hardiness zones 7-10. Highbush blueberries typically grow up to 6-8 feet high (180-240 cm) and yield up to 7 pounds per plant. They meld right into a shrub border or can be used as a hedge by themselves.
- Vaccinium angustifolium (Lowbush Blueberry)
Native to northeastern North America - Lowbush blueberry is a low-growing shrub that ranges from only 6-24 in. tall (15-60 cm) and spreads by means of underground stems to form a dense mat. Hardy to zones 3-7, it yields about 5 to 10 pounds per 100 square feet. The blueberries are generally smaller, sweeter, and less aromatic than those of highbush blueberries, although the flavor varies from plant to plant. Lowbush blueberries are ideal as a ground cover. You may interplant them with small spring bulbs whose dying foliage will be hidden as the leaves of your Lowbush blueberry unfold.
- Half-High Blueberries are hybrids of highbush and lowbush types. They mix the benefits of highbush (large fruit) with the benefits of lowbush (cold tolerance) and grow to a height intermediate between the parents. They are useful for cold climates (hardiness zones 3-7) where a highbush equivalent is desired.
- Vaccinium ashei (Rabbiteye Blueberry)
Native to the Southeastern US - Rabbiteye blueberry is a suckering shrub that can grow up to 15 ft. tall (450 cm). More tolerant of hot weather and dry soils than its cousins, it is hardy to zones 7-9. It yields about 15 pounds per plant. The blueberries are small, often not as highly flavored, and have a thicker skin that lets them develop full flavor even under hot conditions. Rabbiteye Blueberry can be added to the shrub border, used as a hedge, or simply stand as a specimen shrub.
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.