Blueberries are very popular in the United States, according to Gary Gao, a horticulturist with Ohio State University. These small, nutritious and sweet berries can be made into jam, cooked in recipes, or simply eaten raw off the bush. The plants are also attractive, with pink or white flowers in the spring and colorful fall foliage. Blueberry bushes make great hedges or stand-alone plants. There are three main types of blueberries, each with several different cultivars. There are also two other rarer types of blueberry bushes.
Northern Highbush Blueberry
The northern highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) is the only type of blueberry plant that can survive temperatures below 10 degrees Fahrenheit. The type of blueberry grows best in full sun but can tolerate partial shade. It prefers cool, moist soil and soil with low pH levels. The northern highbush blueberry can grow as tall as 9 feet, but averages around 6 feet tall, and can live for up to 50 years. Popular cultivars of this plant include Duke, which is the earliest blooming cultivar in early summer and is known for fruit that does not decline during the harvesting or shipping process.
Rabbiteye blueberries (V. ashei) are native to the southeastern parts of the United States. They can grow up to 10 feet tall and thrive in long, hot summers. Rabbiteye blueberries can survive drought conditions and produce fruit that is darker than the sky-blue color of northern highbush blueberries. Powderblue is one of the most popular varieties of the rabbiteye blueberry because of its small, firm berries that are resistant to splitting, although the plant does feature suckers.
Southern Highbush Blueberry
This blueberry is a hybrid of the northern highbush and rabbiteye blueberry types that were developed to grow in areas that have milder winters. These blueberry plants are smaller than others; growing to an average height of between 6 and 8 feet. The legacy is a popular southern highbush cultivar that features a graceful umbrella shape, vigorous growth and high-quality, large, sweet blueberries.
Low-Bush and Half-High Blueberries
Low-bush blueberries are very short shrubs that spread by underground rhizomes. They average about a foot in height and are not popularly grown in home gardens. They can be found growing in the wild in northern parts of American and into Canada. Half-high blueberries were cultivated for very cold climates, with temperatures that fall as low as 45 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. These plants grow to a height of about 4 feet. They work well as container plants or for areas that cannot grow any other blueberry bushes.