Saturday, July 11, 2015

Blue Days Ahead

Vaccinium blueberry 'pink lemonade'

Blue Days Are Ahead


Now that we have the dog run set up, we can start planning for our garden again.  One of my all-time favorite fruits is the blueberry. In our climate, there are three very good self-pollinating varieties.  These include 1 Rabbiteye and 2 Highbush varieties; Vaccinium blueberry 'pink lemonade'; Vaccinium virgatum blueberry 'misty'; and Vaccinium corymbosum blueberry 'sunshine blue'. Having two of the three available types (rabbiteye, highbush and lowbush) offer loads of tasty berries, a longer blueberry season and a bit of fun.

Pink Lemonade:


First up is Pink Lemonade.  Pink Lemonade is the rabbiteye variety.  Pink Lemonade is great for our climate because it only requires 200 chill hours to produce fruit, rated for zones 5-9.  Being a rabbiteye variety, it is normal for the berries to start out a nice hot pink, but this particular variety is fun because the berries stay pink when fully ripe.  The expected mature height of Pink Lemonade is 4 - 6', however an unchecked rabbiteye can grow up to 20'.

Pink Lemonade starts off the season with shell pink flowers.  The fruits are reported to be glossy and firm, with a mild, sweet bite. Pink Lemonade produces successive crops until mid-fall.  In fall the foliage becomes the attraction while turning from green to yellow, gold, and finally brilliant reddish-orange. In dormancy, the russet-red bare stems keep 'Pink Lemonade' interesting.

Misty
Vaccinium virgatum blueberry 'misty'


Misty is a highbush variety.  Misty only requires 150 chill hours to produce fruit and is rated for zones 7b - 10a.  Misty's mature height is expected to be around 6 - 8 feet.  Misty will bloom white flowers a month after Pink Lemonade gets going, but the medium to large sized bright blue fruits will ripen before Pink Lemonade.

Misty's fruit is reported to be very sweet, matures early, and continues from midsummer through fall. Misty's blue-green foliage remains evergreen in mild winters or turns brilliant red before falling off in colder climates.

Vaccinium corymbosum blueberry 'sunshine blue'

Sunshine Blue


Sunshine Blue is also a highbush variety.  Sunshine Blue also requires less than 200 chill hours for fruit production and is rated for zones 5 - 10.  Sunshine Blue blooms flowers that start out white, but change to a hot pink which makes for a lot of interest during the summer.

Sunshine Blue grows in a compact 3 - 4 foot tall and wide bush variety.  For such a small plant, the yields are expected to be 5 to 10 lbs. of fruit per bush and about 80 berries per cup. Stated to taste excellent fruit and wins with productivity.

Commonalities
Blueberry plant hedge in spring


All blueberry plants require an acidic soil with a PH around 4.0 to 5.0 with good drainage. These particular varieties can stand soils that are a bit less acidic.  The blueberry plants spread out shallow roots so watering may require additional watering in our area.

While these three varieties are self-pollinating and do not require any other plants to produce some tasty fruit, additional plants will increase the productivity.

For landscaping, the blueberries can be set as an attractive and productive hedge for year round interest.

Blueberry plants in fall
In our southern climate, we may not get such a vivid red show as many other people would get from the lovely blueberry plants, but I have witnessed some colorful tinging around the edges of the leaves which does add a nice warm tone during the cooler weather.

Not many plants tolerate the acidity level the blueberries enjoy so these plants will need suitable companions or be on their own.