Vaccinium corymbosum
Common Name: highbush blueberry
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Ericaceae
Native Range: Eastern North America
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 6.00 to 12.00 feet
Spread: 8.00 to 12.00 feet
Bloom Time: May
Bloom Description: White or pinkish
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Hedge
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Good Fall
Attracts: Birds, Butterflies
Fruit: Showy, Edible

Culture

Best grown in acidic (pH of 4.8 to 5.2), organically rich, medium to wet, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Shallow, fibrous roots need constant moisture and good drainage. Plants appreciate a good organic mulch. Although blueberries are self-fertile, cross-pollination produces the best fruit crop (larger berries and larger yields). If grown for fruit production, there are many excellent cultivars which should be considered rather than the straight species. Best to remove flowers from plants in the year of planting and in the following year so as to prevent fruit set and to encourage new vegetative growth. Prune as needed in late winter beginning in the third year after planting.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Vaccinium corymbosum known as highbush blueberry is native to eastern North America where it typically grows in moist woods, bogs, swamps and low areas. It is an upright, deciduous shrub that typically grows 5-8’ tall.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Birds love the fruit, so plants may need to be covered with netting as the fruit begins to ripen in order to protect the crop. Chlorosis (yellowing of leaves) may occur in high pH soils. Potential but infrequent disease problems include stem blight, root rot, anthracnose, cane cankers, mildew and botrytis.

Garden Uses

This versatile shrub has excellent ornamental value separate and apart from the fruit crop: white spring flowers, dark green summer foliage, red fall color and reddish winter stems. Effective in shrub borders or as part of less formal shrub plantings such as in native plant gardens or open woodland areas. Particularly effective in conjunction with rhododendrons and azaleas which share similar acidic soil requirements. Also makes an excellent hedge with the added benefits of summer fruit which can be harvested or left for the birds.