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Vaccinium corymbosum

Common Name(s):

  • Highbush Blueberry
Phonetic Spelling
vak-SIN-ee-um coh-rim-BOH-sum
Description

Highbush blueberry is in the Ericaceae family. It is an upright multistemed, slow growing deciduous shrub with brilliant red fall foliage. Its bark is gray/brown to reddish/brown and very shreddy. It makes an excellent hedge if planted en masse. It is planted for its delicious edible fruit. Although blueberries are self-fertile, planting multiple that bloom at the same time will lead to larger berries and a higher yeild. Extend your harvest by planting early, mid, and late season blueberry varieties which will make the fruit season run from June to mid-September.  When planting and the year after, remove all flowers so the shrub can focus on root and shoot growth. The third year after planting you can prune in the late winter to remove dead wood and maintain the shape of the shrub. 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. Dr. Jim Ballington, NC State University horticulture professor, has developed a series of Southern highbush blueberries that retain the high fruit quality of standard highbush but demonstrate greater adaptation to a wider range of soil types. Cultivars ‘O’Neal,’ ‘Sampson,’ and ‘Legacy’ are good choices.

Regions:  Piemont, Coastal plains

Seasons of Interest:

Foliage: Fall, red  Bloom: Early spring, spring, May  Fruit: Late 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 too high it will cause chlorosis (yellowing of leaves). 

Cultivars:
  • 'Legacy'
  • 'O'Neal'
  • 'Sampson'
Tags:
#bees#butterflies#showy flowers#deciduous#fall color#pollinators#songbirds#edible#wildlife plant#nectar plant#native bees#hedge#showy fruits#specialized bees#low flammability#screens#fire resistant
Cultivars:
  • 'Legacy'
  • 'O'Neal'
  • 'Sampson'
Tags:
#bees#butterflies#showy flowers#deciduous#fall color#pollinators#songbirds#edible#wildlife plant#nectar plant#native bees#hedge#showy fruits#specialized bees#low flammability#screens#fire resistant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Vaccinium
    Species:
    corymbosum
    Family:
    Ericaceae
    Fire Risk Rating:
    low flammability
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    fire in the landscape.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Edible
    Native Plant
    Shrub
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Multistemmed
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Piedmont
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Blue
    Purple/Lavender
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Summer
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Pink
    White
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Hairs Present:
    No
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Brown
    Light Gray
    Red/Burgundy
    Surface/Attachment:
    Shredding
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Design Feature:
    Hedge
    Mass Planting
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Songbirds
    Specialized Bees