Low chill bluberries for AZ zone 9b Sunset 13

captaininsanoJanuary 21, 2014

I am looking for a few varieties of low chill blueberries (southern highbush), that will survive in the low desert. I have a legacy that I purchased last year on clearance, that survived but I cannot say it thrived, the oneal I bought died as soon as it started to heat up, I have seen pink lemonade in stores here and read it may be self fruitful, but the varieties that would pollinate it are rabbiteye and northern highbush that will not survive here. I am interested in sweetcrisp as I have read that it is low chill and a good berry. The real issues I have to deal with are extreme summer temps and low chill hours, this winter in particular has been extremely mild.
I have the legacy in a container with peat, and plan to do the same with the others.
If there isn't much hope I would like to know that as well, I have tried to stretch zone limits on a few things before without much luck.

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Bradybb WA-Zone8

Emerald and Sunshine Blue may grow there.If they are young,try to keep them out of midday and afternoon sun. Brady

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 2:20AM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Jewel 250 chill hour bush but is easy to find or any of the following.....meadowlark (200), Kestrel (200), Flicker (200), Chickadee (100), Snowchaser (150) or Bobolink (200).

I have no idea how they would react to your intense summer heat though. They handle the Florida heat just fine but that is a far cry from the temps you have. I am assuming you have them potted? You may have to put them in a larger pot right off the bat and make sure the pots reflect the sun so the pot itself does not heat up. They can never dry out so anything you can do to keep the roots and soil surface moist and cool will be of benefit. Heavy light colored mulch on the soil surface would help.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 8:28AM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Legacy is a cross between northern and southern needing 500+ hours chilling. That's not what you need.

Get some of those 200 or less hr varieties and put them under 50-60% shade cloth May thru September. With that culture blueberries are clearly doable in your area.

You do need to be concerned with alkaline water. It will kill the plants. Use rainwater or treat well water with sulfuric acid.

This post was edited by fruitnut on Wed, Jan 22, 14 at 10:44

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 9:50AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Yeah I bought a Legacy for zone 6a! Not good for you, but cool it has lived so far, sounds like i bought a good one! The berries are rated super high quality too. I'm excited about getting one! Southmoon and Sweetcrisp are coming too. Yet two more top rated tasting berries yeah!
All will be grown in pots. I also have three Northerns in raised beds. next year should be a good year for them. Still young, but should all produce some berries. 3rd leaf for two, 2nd leaf for one.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 11:49AM
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Thanks, yeah the Legacy was purchased at a local home improvement store for $2.00 on clearance so no big loss, I will look into some of the varieties, I know I have seen sunshine blue here locally, I will look up southmoon emerald and jewel. Another question, is it easy to propagate them from cuttings?

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 7:56PM
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Bradybb WA-Zone8

Can most of those even be had yet?I have Snowchaser,but it is rare.
Southmoon is rated for 500 chill hours,so it may need a little more cold days than your area can normally provide.
All the other ones mentioned,besides Legacy are 250 or less.
As far as propagating,it depends on your definition of easy.I have two different kinds of mist systems(needed,especially in your area)and get about 50-60 percent of them to root.I can provide more info if wanted. Brady

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 8:50PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

I get far less than 100 chill hours and 'Sunshine Blue' is very productive here--has been since planting six or seven years ago. I get a good crop every year. It's not the chill that would be a factor, it's them surviving your summer's dry heat. They can take heat too, but they expect the humid heat of the southeast (ever been to Alabama in July?). What I would try in Sunset 13 is some way to provide a touch of humidity from May - October and shade cloth of just enough density (25%?) to take the sharpest edge off the sunlight to prevent the foliage from scorching and the stems from sunburning. I'd also add pumice to the peat because the roots need some air lest they rot. 'Sunshine Blue' starts to push out new foliage in September so hopefully your climate cools down a bit by then so they can do their autumn growing.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 9:11PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Funny you mention pumice. I have been looking at that for my cacti, and I'm thinking it's better than perlite. For blueberries I'm going to try a 2-2-1 mix of peat-coir-pumice.(ph of mix is 4.2 to 5.0)
Pumice to replace perlite and coir to replace pine bark. Pine bark would work too. Coir will last longer. You could probably use small coconut chips too, but they are expensive. After 2 years change the soil. Keep it fresh. I'll dump the soil in raised beds. Perlite turns to mush after awhile. it lasts 4-5 years, but will become useless, pumice is good for about 20 thousand years. Anyway that way the additives to the raised bed are useful. The peat, pine bark, or coir are good compost, and the pumice will aerate the bed, it will not hurt, and could help. So the mixes will be recycled that way.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 10:29PM
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Yeah southmoon is out.
Maybe I will wait to explore cuttings I need the plants first.
I found a good amount of low chill varieties on the Florida Hill website anybody ever use them?
Where would you find pumice, I have seen vermiculite and perlite in Lowe's and HD, would it be there.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 10:39PM
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From my experience with Southmoon it doesn't require near as many chill hours as stated. I've had great fruit set at 250 chill hours last year. If I had to start all over I would grow 5 low chill varieties. Emerald for shear volume of good fruit and it's very low chill, almost evergreen in my location. Sweetcrisp because the fruit is hands down the best overall. Snowchaser for it's out standing flavor and very early crop. Springhigh for a very early crop and high quality fruit. Jewel for volume and great flavor. I guess I would throw in Sunshine Blue as well. The only knock I can see on that variety is it's a pain to prune cause it can over produce fruit buds in a bad way and it's very twiggy. That being said, if pruned right it is a top notch flavored berry IMO but you don't get a bunch of fruit and it's usually small.

As far as rooting cuttings, all of the above varieties except Sunshine Blue are patented so it's illegal to do. If you do, don't tell anyone about it!;) One way that I can think of to creat a humid micro climate for them would be a large kids pool with several inches of water. Place bricks or something in it to keep the bottoms of the pots out of the water and place them in the pool on the brickes. Sounds kinda getto but it works. The water evaporating will provide enough humidity in the leaf canopy to keep them happy along with shade for the brutal sun in your area.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 11:43PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

You could use perlite to make it easy, it is a fine product. So it only last 5 years, that's longer than the peat or pine bark will last, I think pumice is better but it is expensive and hard to find. I bought some from EBay. The Bonsai people sell it. I want it to reuse soil in raised beds, it's not a big deal, more of an extreme. Perlite is fine. So 40% peat 40% pine bark or coir or premium potting soil. and 20% Pumice or perlite. All those choices will work. I determined these mixes from 2 different universities, what they found to work, and Dave Wilson Nurseries. Any combination will yield a mix that is no higher than 5.0 PH. The key is to keep it there. Alkaline water can mess it up.
I also add a touch of organic fertilizer, and trace elements, sulfur, but it is more overkill. I'm rather anal, and want to cover all angles. I also add beneficial bacteria, and fertilize very lightly but steady. I feel it's better. and I'm very particular about what fertilizers, and when to use.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 12:23AM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)


The only released variety that is not yet available is Raven so yes the others are all out there. The problem is the commercial folks tend to take a lot of the new low chill varieties and vendors don't want to buy BB plants that nobody has heard of . When I was last at Millers there was every variety I mentioned and in large quantities. Island Grove sells a lot more varieties than are listed on it's website and will sell single plants though you will pay for that.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2014 at 7:54AM
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