Blueberry Varieties - Can Someone Clarify My Confusion???

eldemilaJune 13, 2014

Hoping someone with knowledge far more and superior than mine can help clarify a bit of the mass confusion that's in my mind with the varieties of blueberries I've bought, or should be buying.

I decided I would try to find if a green thumb existed under the deep dark black one I had seemed to live with for 50yrs. I started out with two plants, and not knowing anything about blueberries (or gardening either) bought a few hear and there, when I would see them at a good price, and not knowing the difference between any of them. I've amassed 17 blueberry plants since moving to this house and recently (with the purchase of the last 5 plants) decided I should "see" what varities I have.

Some of my plants don't seem to be fruiting, and even though I was told they were self-pollinating, I now find out that they will do better if other varieties are nearby.

So, I decided to look up the varieties I know I've bought in the past (not that I know which ones are which on some) and tag them, but looking them up on the internet, I get conflicting information. Some on one site will list a variety as a Rabbit Eye, while another will list the same named variety as a Souther Bush Rabbit Eye. Some will put a variety I have as a mid season, others will say late.

So, I guess my question would be something along the lines as knowing if the same variety has different characteristics depending on what zone you are in???

I'm trying to figure out what varieties I could use to help have better production.

This is what I'm aware of what I have, should the information be helpful in helping answer my question. This is how I have them currently identified:

Premier (only plant I have 2 of) RE-Early
Powderblue-RE- Mid
Blueray- NH-Mid
Pink Lemonade-SHRE-Mid/Late
Millenia- SH-Early
ONeal - SH-Early
Blue Suede - SHRE-Early

I also have a wild blueberry bush, possibly 2 as I have one more plant I can't identify, or remember which one it is, or where I put it that I pulled out of a neighbors yard. Would this be considered a low bush? Would this pollinate any other varieties of blueberrys?

SH-Southern Highbush
NH-Northern Highbush
LB-Low Bush
RE-Rabbit Eye

Last, I'm in Zone 7b in the Greenville, SC area if that has any bearing.

TIA for any and all help and clarification, I appreciate it and am eager to learn. I am HAPPY to say, I can actually plant something and it can thrive, so there IS a green thumb that had been hiding under all that black for so long. But I'm new, and still learning...slowly, but surely.

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"So, I guess my question would be something along the lines as knowing if the same variety has different characteristics depending on what zone you are in???" A qualified yes. Timing will be affected for sure. The same bush will come out much earlier in GA than in MN, and therefore fruit earlier in the year. Flavor or fruit quality can be affected. But in large part, the plant will be just the same. "I'm trying to figure out what varieties I could use to help have better production."From what I think I understand, you have well more variety than is necessary to provide for adequate cross pollination. I would look for other issues if you are not getting production. Are they old enough to be expecting production from them? Are there adequate pollinators visiting the flowers in the spring? Did a cold snap this spring impact this year's production? Is your soil pH appropriate? Do they need some fertilization? "Would this be considered a low bush? Would this pollinate any other varieties of blueberrys?"I can't answer the first part, but the second question is affirmative. Most, if not all, of your plants should adequately cross pollinate the others. Lack of varieties does not appear to be your issue.

Perhaps part of the confusion is in regards to categorization of varieties. Some cultivars you have are more "pure" than others. Blueray and Bluecrop are hybrids of northern varieties (both low bush and high bush - but have high bush characteristics). Those are old cultivars from the 1930's or 40's if I recall correctly - some of the first.

However, many of the newer cultivars are much more complex, with ancestors from northern bushes, rabbit eye, and other southern bushes. For instance, your Pink Lemonade. Here is it's pedigree from the USDA:

V. Corymbosum is a northern highbush, V. darrowi is a southern bush, and Delite (V. ashei) is a rabbit eye. How do you possibly classify this as SH, NH, or RE?

One variety I've taken a more keen interest in is Cara's Choice. It's pedigree is far more complex than Pink Lemonade. It's generally considered a NH because of observed characteristics, but it has genes from Maine to Florida from about 12 wild bushes bred through 6 or 7 generations. I think many modern cultivars are classified on the way they behave (growth pattern and cold tolerance), not on where they originated from. Understanding that may clarify how your bushes will readily cross pollinate. You donâÂÂt have to have a NH to pollinate a NH - a SH, RE, or native bush will do just fine.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 10:39AM
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danzeb(7a long island)

Blueberries grow wild and thrive under various conditions depending on the strain. You have a nice variety and with variety comes a variety of ideal conditions. Some will perform better than others depending on your environment. What the weather was like the previous year can also effect results. If you want to optimize your blueberry collection, keep records for a few years and replace the ones that don't perform well with the varieties that do. Also 4 or 5 year old canes sometimes don't produce well. I say sometimes because I've seen wild blueberries with very thick tall canes loaded with fruit.

Most blueberries are self pollinating. I only have 5 varieties. For some reason, perhaps the harsh winter, only one has blueberries this year and that one has a very heavy crop.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 10:46AM
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Oops. I misspoke about blueray and bluecrop - they are not some of the early cultivars - Bluecrop is 3 - 5 generations from wild stock depending on the lineage followed.

Jersey is one of the old cultivars - A cross between wild collected Rubel and Grover from the '30s.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 11:02AM
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sandpapertongue(7a VA)

Wow, this is so interesting. Not the OP but also a newbie blueberry gardener and I was also looking for info like this.
I only have 4 varieties, but I hope to keep expanding. I just need more yard⦠=)

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 11:06AM
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I grew up in AL on the zone 7/8 interface. Rabbiteye types rule there.
Even up here in the frigid northland of KY in zone 6, Rabbiteyes and Southern highbush types are vastly more productive than the northern highbush types - and I've grown all three types. I won't bother with NHs anymore, and sure wouldn't even waste my time with a northern lowbush type, even if I was limited to growing 'em in a container.
While the NHs may do OK for you in SC, they'll NEVER produce the volume of berries that you'll get from a rabbiteye or Southern higbush type.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 11:12AM
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Lowbush blueberries will not get any higher than 16 or maybe 18 inches. They hug the ground, and could be described as a ground cover, since they tend to spread laterally. It would be helpful if you made some metal plant tags, so you can keep track of the varieties that you have in your yard. Northern highbush will grow best if the soil pH is between 4.5 and 5.5, so you might have to learn how to do your own soil pH testing. Also, northern highbush require "chill hours," an accumulation of freezing weather, over the winter months, in order to set flowers in the spring. These shrubs might not be very productive if you happen to have a mild winter. Blueberries are pollinated by various bees. Here in Wisconsin, it is mostly bumblebees, because the blueberry flowers come out in April, and our honeybees don't emerge from the hive until it gets warmer, into the 70's, typically in May or June. The blueberry shrubs will be more productive if you have a healthy population of local bees, both native bees, and honeybees.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2014 at 2:40PM
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Thank you one and all for all the wonderful replies! I am definitely learning and now can understand a bit more about the berries I've planted. Need to learn a little more, about canes, pruning, etc. I've got the thirst to learn, and in time I will. I will probably try to find a couple more blueberry plants to fill in a couple gaps and will use all the useful information provided by all of you who are a part of this great garden forum.

Thanks to you all again, and Happy Gardening!!!!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 4:23PM
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