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Common Name(s):
Rabbiteye blueberry
Edible Plants, Native Plants, Shrubs

Blueberries are one of the few plants that offer both beauty and taste throughout most of the year. Blueberries are nutritional stars, providing a powerhouse boost of antioxidants and nutrients without adding many calories. They also add grace to the landscape and provide dazzling color in the fall. Why not plant them in your home landscape? Blueberries are typically used as hedges for screening purposes, but they can also be used in cluster plantings or as single specimen plants. Blueberries are spectacular in the fall with brilliant yellow and red foliage that lights up the landscape. They have attractive, bell-shaped, white and occasionally pink flowers in the spring. The summer fruit is a dark purplish blue. New cultivars can have pink fruit. An added bonus is their lack of disease and insect problems.

Blueberries require a lower soil pH than many other small fruit crops and other plants. Therefore, consider grouping them with other acid-loving plants such as holliesazaelasrhododendrons, and camellias. Before planting, take a soil test. The ideal pH for blueberries is between 4.0 and 5.0 or 5.5, depending on the cultivar. Little annual attention is required, except for occasional pruning.

Both the highbush and rabbiteye types grow well in North Carolina. Highbush typically have larger fruit and better fruit quality than rabbiteyes, but are not as widely adapted to various soil types. The cultivar ‘Premier’ is an excellent choice for a rabbiteye and has the added advantage of being self-fruitful, unlike most blueberries that require cross-pollination for fruit set.  The common name rabbiteye comes from the fact that the fruit is pink before it turns blue like the color of a white rabbit's eye.  Rabbiteyes have a lower chilling requirement so they will bloom earlier than high bush.  They require at least three other shrubs to be planted for proper cross-pollination.

Seasons of Interest:

       Foliage: Fall, red  Bloom: Early spring, spring, May  Fruit: Summer, berry edible

Wildlife Value: Flowers attract butterflies and bees.  It is a host plant for the Brown Elfin butterfly.  Its fruit attracts songbirds, small mammals, ruffed grouse, wild turkey, black bears and squirrels. Members of the genus Vaccinium support the following specialized bees:Andrena (Conandrena) bradleyiAndrena (Andrena) carolinaPanurginus atramontensisHabropoda laboriosaColletes productusColletes validus, and Osmia (Melanosmia) virga.

Insects Diseases and Other Plant Problems:  Spotted wing drosophila may attack the fruit. Potential but infrequent disease problems include stem blight, root rot, anthracnose, cane cankers, mildew and botrytis. Mummy berry is a fungal disease that causes the berries to shrivel and drop.  Birds relish the fruit, so cover shrubs with netting as the fruit ripens. These plants are frequently damaged by deer.   If the soil pH is to high it will cause chlorosis (yellowing of leaves).  Because they bloom so early bloosoms can be subject to late winter frosts.

Synonomus with V. ashei

15 ft.
A pH of 4.0 to 5.0 is required for good plant growth; the plants will not live in soils with a pH above 5.5. The plants' feeder roots are very close to the surface and do not have root hairs; therefore, good soil moisture management and heavy mulches are needed. Deep sandy soils cannot be used unless they are drip irrigated. Plants will not tolerate heavy clay soils with poor aeration and drainage.
10 ft.
cpp, screen, deciduous, hedge, fall color

NCCES plant id: 3251

Vaccinium virgatum Vaccinium virgatum
Sabrina Setaro, CC BY - 2.0