The southern region of the Unites Sates includes Oklahoma, Texas, Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana. With the lowest record temperature for the South being -29 degrees Fahrenheit and the highest record temperature reaching 120 F, plants in this region must be adaptable. There are three varieties of blueberry bushes that can be grown in the Southern region of the United States. They are rabbiteye, Southern highbush and Northern highbush.
Rabbiteye blueberries (Vaccinium ashei) are recommended for all the southern United States region, except for the high elevation areas in the mountains. They are both pest tolerant and productive, reports Clemson University Extension. Many cultivars of rabbiteye blueberry bushes exist, including Woodard, Garden Blue, Delite, Briteblue, Climax, Brightwell and Sharpblue. Most varieties will reach a mature size of 15 feet tall and 10 feet wide.
Rabbiteye blueberry bushes are particular about soil conditions. They need a soil pH of 4.0 to 5.0 and will not survive with a pH level higher than 5.5. The feeder roots are shallow, so the soil must be kept moist by watering frequently and applying mulch. Rabbiteye blueberry bushes are more productive if cross-pollinated with at least three other varieties. Blueberries are ready for harvest from late May through late July.
The southern highbush blueberry bush (Vaccinium formosum) is an early blooming variety that is more susceptible to late frosts. The southern highbush is a hybrid that is a cross of species native to the southern United States with the northern highbush variety. The southern highbush tolerates the heat and drought conditions of the South well, and it produces a superior blueberry, according to Clemson University Extension. Several cultivars exist, including O'Neal, Cape Fear, Blue Ridge, Georgia Gem, Ozark Blue and Coastal Plains.
Southern highbush does not have the same disease and pest resistance as rabbiteyes. Southern highbush blueberry bushes are susceptible to root rot and stem blight. They require moist, acidic soil and full sunlight for optimal growth and production. Southern highbush blueberries are ready to harvest early in the season, over a course of two to five weeks.
Contrary to its name, the northern highbush Blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) can be grown in the southern United States. It is a round bush which grows 6 to 12 feet tall, with a similar width. It blooms in May and is ready for harvest in July through August. It requires a well-drained mulched soil with a pH of 4.5 to 5.5. The northern highbush is susceptible to iron chlorosis if the pH of the soil is too high.
Although the northern highbush can grow in partial shade, optimal production of fruit is best achieved in full-sun. This bush has showy yellow-to-red fall colors and is used as a decorative specimen, as well as for it is fruit. There are numerous clutivars of the northern highbush, including Bluecrop, Blueray, Jersey, Patriot, Rubel, Sunshine Blue, Northblue, Northland and Polaris.