Blueberry plants (Vaccinium corymbosum) are flowering evergreen or deciduous shrubs of the Azalea family. Blueberry plants have ovate leaves and bell-shaped blossoms in pink, white or red tones. These perennials produce the dark blue, nutrient-rich blueberry fruit.
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The three primary types of blueberries are the highbush, the rabbiteye and the Southern highbush. There are many popular highbush varieties, including the Herbert blueberry, the bluejay blueberry and the bluecrop blueberry.
Blueberry bushes start producing fruit in the third season, but aren't fully productive until the sixth. The blueberry fruit is ripe when it has turned a deep blue and pulls away from the cluster.
Blueberry plants need free-draining, highly acidic soils rich with organic matter. The planting location should be fully sunny for optimum fruit quality and yield.
Blueberry plants have shallow root systems that need at least 1 inch of water every week. Peat moss or sawdust mulches help conserve moisture, control weeds and increase nutrient intake.
Blueberry bushes typically don't need any pruning for the first three seasons. Dormant blueberry plants should be pruned in the spring of the fourth season to stimulate growth.
Potential blueberry plant diseases include powdery mildew, mummy berry, botrytis blossom blight and leaf spots. Blueberry bushes are vulnerable to attacks from blueberry tip borers, cherry fruit worms and cranberry fruit worms.
- Growing Blueberries in the Home Garden
- BBC Gardening Guides: About Blueberries
- US Highbush Blueberry Council
- USDA Plants Profile: Highbush Blueberries
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Cat Carson has been a writer, editor and researcher for more than 10 years. She has professional experience in a variety of media, including the Internet, newspapers, newsletters and magazines. Her work has appeared on various websites. Carson holds master’s degrees in both writing and cultural anthropology, and is currently working toward her doctorate degree.