The Best Blueberry Bushes
Blueberries are native to all parts of North America, and since there is a variety for every USDA hardiness zone, there is no reason not to grow your own. They prefer rich, acid soil and, given that, are otherwise easy to grow. Check your pH and add ammonium sulfate or peat moss to acidify your soil if necessary to increase acidity to 4.5 or 5, the ideal for blueberries.
Agricultural Research Service’s Southern Horticultural Laboratory released a new rabbit-eye cultivar (southern blueberry species, Vaccinium asheii) named Prince in late 2008. Reportedly, it extends the blueberry season in the gulf states, where blueberries often succumb to heat and humidity. It scores highly for flavor, size and color, and is several days earlier than the current earliest southern blueberry varieties.
Another of the newer cultivars of V. asheii developed for the hot south, ‘DeSoto’ produces well beyond the usual July harvest time of other southern blueberries, extending the season by as much as three weeks. It resists splitting when grown in rainy conditions--a common problem with blueberries.
This southern cultivar (V, asheii Gupton) is noted for its fine flavor and its excellent keeping qualities. It is a medium to large berry with light blue color.
The old standby of the far north, Bluecrop (Vaccinium corymbosum Bluecrop) is still popular in USDA Hardiness zones 4 and 5 nearly three decades from its introduction. It produces heavy harvests and is very dependable.
If you want a blueberry that crops later than average and stores well, choose Elliot. This is a large, good flavored variety.
Another northern blueberry, prized for its large, firm fruits and early harvest time is Duke.
Northblue is a hybrid of high and low bush blueberries (V. corymbosum and V. angustifolium) called a “half-high” variety. Half-highs do well in much colder areas even than the northern highbush blueberries, because they incorporate the cold hardiness of highbush types with the short bushy habit of the lowbush types. They stay low to the warmth of the ground and can withstand temperatures as far north as zone 3.