Blueberries have become increasingly popular because of their health and nutritional benefits, which include Vitamin C, dietary fiber and high antioxidant content. These sweet favorites are one of the few fruits that are native to North America. They are easy to grow in the right conditions and will bear fruit for many years. There are four main types of blueberry bushes.
Highbush blueberries are native to the eastern coast of the United States and are in the same family as cranberries and azaleas. They thrive in full sunlight and acidic, sandy loam soils. They produce large fruits on bushes that can reach up to six feet tall. According to the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, highbush blueberries are grown commercially in 38 states. A few varieties of highbush blueberries are Patriot, Jersey and Blue Gold.
Rabbiteye blueberries, best suited for growing in southern states like Texas and Mississippi, are native to the Southeastern United States. Mature plants grow up to 15 feet tall and 10 feet wide. They are vigorous growers and yield large amounts of fruit which is ready to be harvested in June or July. Like highbush varieties, they require a well-drained, acidic soil. Rabbiteye plants are becoming increasing popular due to the fact they have very few problems with either diseases or pests. Rabbiteye varieties include Climax, Woodard and Briteblue.
Southern highbush blueberries are a cross between northern highbush varieties and native Southern blueberries, resulting in a more adaptable plant that tolerates a wider variety of soil and temperature conditions. They produce smaller berries that other blueberry types, but the berries still have a good taste. They ripen in May. Varieties of southern highbush blueberries include O'Neal, Cooper and Sharp Blue.
Lowbush blueberries are also known as wild blueberries. The bushes are very cold hardy. They only grow to one or two feet tall and spread from stems underground. Most commercial lowbush blueberries are grown in Maine and Canada, where they thrive in acidic soils and cold temperatures.