Vaccinium corymbosum 'Northland'
Common Name: highbush blueberry
Type: Fruit
Family: Ericaceae
Zone: 3 to 7
Height: 3.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 4.00 to 5.00 feet
Bloom Time: May
Bloom Description: White
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). Therefore, it is best to plant more than one variety that will bloom at the same time. In addition, blueberry season can be extended by planting early, mid-season and late varieties which will collectively ripen from early June to the end of the summer (St. Louis area). 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.

Genus name comes from an ancient Latin name apparently derived from a prehistoric Mediterranean language.

Specific epithet refers to the flowers and fruits being in a corymb.

‘Northland’ is a popular half-high cultivar that typically grows to 3-4’ tall with a moderately spreading form. It features waxy, bell-shaped, white flowers in May followed by medium-sized, medium blue, sweet blueberries that ripen in early mid-season (June). Ovate, medium green leaves (to 3” long) turn attractive shades of yellow-orange to red and purple in fall. Reddish stems can be attractive in winter. Half-high cultivars are hybrids that generally feature more compact growth (2-4’ tall) and excellent winter hardiness (to USDA Zones 3 or 4).

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. Blueberry maggot, cherry fruit worm and spotted wing drosophila may attack the fruit. Mummy berry is a fungal disease that causes the berries to shrivel and drop.

Garden Uses

Useful for ornamental purposes (flowers, fruit, quality summer foliage and fall color) as well as for fruit production (blueberries). It is effective in shrub borders or as part of less formal shrub plantings in areas such as native plant gardens or open woodlands. Particularly effective in conjunction with rhododendrons and azaleas which share similar acidic soil requirements. Also makes an excellent hedge with the added benefits of fruit which can be harvested or left for the birds.