Will Rabbiteye blueberries survive winters in North DE?

HighlanderNorthJune 15, 2012

I accidentally bought a rabbiteye plant from Lowes last November when they were selling all their plant stock at 75% off, so I bought this one blueberry that was much taller than the others, but it wasnt tagged as a rabbiteye.

So it also only had 6-7 compatible pollinators listed on the tag, but I didnt recognize any of the varieties. This spring I began looking for these pollinating varieties, but couldnt find them around here. Then I looked them up on the internet, but discovered they are all Rabbiteyes.

My uncle owns a 38 acre organic blueberry farm in north central Florida, with about 20 acres of blueberry plants growing on it, most of which are rabbiteyes. He also has about 1/2 acre of Highbush.

So anyway, in early May, I was in one of the many Home Depots around here, when I discovered 5 large rabbiteye plants inside the garden area. They had much smaller Highbush, but these Rabbiteyes were already 4.5 feet tall, and 4 of them were Powerblue's and 1 was a Brightwell. The one I already had at home is a Powderblue, so the only option was to buy the 1 Brightwell they had, so I did.

So now I have 2 healthy Rabbiteyes. But I wonder whether they will survive winters up here, which can get below freezing at night, or even stay below freezing for a few days at a time. It usually doesnt get much colder than the teens around here.

My uncle said that Rabbiteyes are very hardy, maybe more so than Highbush, whcih seems to be the case at his farm, and they grow lots of suckers that become new blueberry plants too. Highbush blueberries dont do that.

What do you think?

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from what I looked up it says zone 6 - 9

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 8:54PM
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What zone are you in? Worst case you could put them in 15-20 gallon containers and move them in when expecting a hard freeze. I know rabbiteyes will tend to bloom later up north than down her in Texas but they are very sensitive to freeze once the buds start to swell in the spring. One problem I had this year with Brightwell and Powderblue is that they didnt really overlap flowering. I think the reason for that was lack of chill hours though for Powderblue. Up north they will come out of dormancy the same time and down here they stay dormant untill chill hours are meet. You wont have a problem meeting chill hours up there. If I were you I would get 1 more Brightwell. That variety is hands down our favorite. They are sweet as soon as they turn color. None of my other rabbiteyes have that quality. Powderblue, beckyblue and woodard all have to hang on the bush atleast a week and 2 weeks is better. Even then they are not as sweet as Brightwell.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2012 at 8:02AM
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blueboy1977: When I was at my uncle's farm 4 seeks ago, I was talking to him about blueberries, and they were in the middle of harvest at that time on May 15th, and I noticed that you really have to choose your berries carefully to get the really sweet ones, for instance I tried to only pick the really large ones when I was picking a few bags for myself to be brought back home, but even that didnt ensure sweet berries, so a lot would still be a little bitter.

But he doesnt have any brightwell. He has Powderblue, Beckyblue, and Climax and one other. He doesnt have Tifblue or brightwell.

So, Brightwell are really that different as far as sweetness huh? Thats good to know..

I read that Tifblue is a good plant, but I also read that its a lot like Powderblue though.

How do you think Rabbiteyes compare overall against Highbush varieties as far as taste, plant growth, hardiness, etc?

    Bookmark   June 16, 2012 at 2:08PM
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Well I guess it depends on who you ask at my house. My wife told me yesterday that I should replace all my plants with Brightwells. She likes them that much! Tifblue is suppost to be what all other rabbiteyes are compaired to so I assume its good but havent tasted it. Its alittle high on the chill hours for my area just like Powderblue. Thats why I didnt get it and Im probably going to get rid of Powderblue for the same reason. Beckyblue is my least favorite of my rabbiteyes. Its hard to tell when they are sweet unless you taste them and usually you are dissapointed. Im going to let them stay on the bush untill atleast half of them have been ripe for a couple weeks and see if that makes a difference. Woodard is okay as far as taste goes. Same thing as Beckyblue, usually dissapointing unless they stay on the bush for long time.

Taste, plant growth, hardiness...... Brightwell seems to be alot sweeter of a berry than any of my Southern High Bush. SHB seem to have more of a tart to them, which I like, but all the SHB have alittle different flavor than the next. I probably have been picking the SHB alittle to early. About the longest Ive let them hang on the bush is about a week after turning color. Rabbiteyes out grow SHB 3 to 1. Im trying really hard to keep my rabbiteyes at 6ft but it requires alot of prunning and tipping to do it. They can get up to 20ft if left unprunned. Hardiness, Ive only lost one Premire rabbiteye in the first growing season but it was sick when I got it. Havent lost another plant yet but have had to cut back a few canes on Gulfcoast due to stem blight. Other than that every variety I have is growing like gang busters so far. I really believe that its all about the water quality you use to water them. Anyone can create a acidic growing medium but not everyone has access to good water. The only reason I think Ive had the success that I have is the amount of rain water storage I have. I have about 1800 gallons of storage now. It looks pretty getto though with all the blue drums in the corner of my yard but I just put up a wood fence to hide it and it looks so much better now.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2012 at 4:13PM
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Are you saying that maybe rain water is better than tap water? We just hooked up 2 of those rain gutter downspout water collecting tanks, which are about 70 gallons apiece, each hooked up to one downspout, so we are getting rain from 2 of the 4 downspouts, but they only collect the rain water that trickles down the outside edges of the downspout, as the water that runs down the middle of the downspout bypasses the tube that takes it to the tank, which is designed for when the tank gets full, it ownt back up too much, and the excess water will overflow into the downspout. But in a good rain, they fill up fairly quickly. I guess with rainwater, we arent getting any chlorine or fluoride. Thank god the plants we water from those tanks dont have teeth, or else they'd get cavities without the fluoride!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 2:06AM
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Noogy(6 sw mi)

Highlander- You're on the right track with rain water. If you use tap/well water you might want to add granulated sulfur to the soil to keep it acid.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 8:25AM
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