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Smooth Highbush Blueberry Vaccinium corymbosum

Other Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • Vaccinium ashei
Phonetic Spelling
vak-SIN-ee-um coh-rim-BOH-sum
Description

Highbush Blueberry is in the Ericaceae family. It can grow 8-15 feet. It is an upright, multi-stemmed, slow-growing deciduous shrub with brilliant fall foliage. It is found naturally in bogs, swamps, and high elevation forests. It is planted for its delicious edible fruit and beautiful fall color. Although blueberries are self-fertile, planting multiples that bloom at the same time will lead to larger berries and a higher yield. 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 holliesazaleasrhododendrons, 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.

Fire Risk: This plant has a low flammability rating.

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). 

 

VIDEO Created by Elisabeth Meyer for "Edibles, Bulbs, and Houseplants" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.   

More information on Vaccinium.

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Legacy'
  • 'O'Neal'
  • 'Sampson'
'Legacy', 'O'Neal', 'Sampson'
Tags:
#bees#showy flowers#deciduous#wildlife plant#nectar plant#native shrub#native bees#playground#showy fruits#hedges#wet sites#small mammals#specialized bees#food source#low flammability#NC native#swamps#fire resistant#bogs#screening#pollinator plant#childrens garden#edible garden#larval host plant#food source summer#food source herbage#food source nectar#food source pollen#Coastal FACW#Piedmont Mountains FACW#wet soils tolerant#fruits#bird friendly#mammals#food source soft mast fruit#fall color red#butterfly friendly#audubon
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Legacy'
  • 'O'Neal'
  • 'Sampson'
'Legacy', 'O'Neal', 'Sampson'
Tags:
#bees#showy flowers#deciduous#wildlife plant#nectar plant#native shrub#native bees#playground#showy fruits#hedges#wet sites#small mammals#specialized bees#food source#low flammability#NC native#swamps#fire resistant#bogs#screening#pollinator plant#childrens garden#edible garden#larval host plant#food source summer#food source herbage#food source nectar#food source pollen#Coastal FACW#Piedmont Mountains FACW#wet soils tolerant#fruits#bird friendly#mammals#food source soft mast fruit#fall color red#butterfly friendly#audubon
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Vaccinium
    Species:
    corymbosum
    Family:
    Ericaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    The berries are edible and have been used raw, sun-dried. smoke-dried, and baked. They have high iron content.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eastern North America
    Distribution:
    AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , GA , IL , IN , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MS , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , TN , TX , VA , VT , WI , WV Canada: NB , NS , ON , QC
    Fire Risk Rating:
    low flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    Flowers attract butterflies and bees. It is a host plant for the Brown Elfin butterfly. Its fruit attracts small mammals, ruffed grouse, wild turkey, black bears, squirrels, and songbirds, including American Robin, Eastern Bluebird, Scarlet Tanager, Eastern and Spotted Towhees, Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, Brown Thrasher, and Northern Cardinal. The twigs provide food source for deer and rabbits. Members of the genus Vaccinium support the following specialized bees: Andrena (Conandrena) bradleyi, Andrena (Andrena) carolina, Panurginus atramontensis, Habropoda laboriosa, Colletes productus, Colletes validus, and Osmia (Melanosmia) virga.
    Play Value:
    Edible fruit
    Wildlife Food Source
    Edibility:
    Fruits are highly edible both fresh and cooked.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 3 ft. 0 in. - 12 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 3 ft. 0 in. - 10 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Edible
    Native Plant
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Multi-stemmed
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    6-feet-12 feet
    NC Region:
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4b, 4a, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7a, 7b, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Blue
    Green
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Blue to purple small round fruits that show up in August, ripening from a green to pink color to full ripeness. Females cannot produce fruit on their own. Fruit is edible.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Pink
    White
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Bell
    Urn
    Flower Petals:
    fused petals
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Small pink or white bell-shaped flowers that mature in clusters
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Orange
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    Reddish-green spring leaves turn blue-green in summer with lighter undersides. Excellent fall color with a mix of red, yellow, orange and purple.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Brown
    Light Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Exfoliating
    Furrowed
    Bark Description:
    Old stems have gray-brown thinly furrowed bark
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    New shoots are glabrous with a yellow-green to reddish color in the winter.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Recreational Play Area
    Landscape Theme:
    Children's Garden
    Edible Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Rain Garden
    Design Feature:
    Hedge
    Mass Planting
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Songbirds
    Specialized Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Compaction
    Fire
    Wet Soil