Cross pollination of blueberry bushes

spuddieselOctober 17, 2009

After listening/reading to Lee Reich on Mike McGrath's You Bet Your Garden talk about using blueberry bushes as edible landscaping I decided to look into planting 3 Elliot blueberry bushes. Looking into it more I discovered another variety is needed for ideal fruit development via cross pollination.

I have a few questions about the cross pollination.

1. How close do they have to be? (I have a quarter acre)

2. Do you need a 1:1 ratio? Due to their size I was planning on planting 3 Elliot bushes adjacent to my garage because of their ornamental properties and was thinking of plant 1 plant of another variety in a less visible location. Is the 1 plant enough? Or do I need 3 plants of another variety adjacent to these 3 bushes to achieve the cross pollination benefit?

Thanks in advance for anyone's input!

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You will get berries regardless of weather you have another variety or not! but, you will get MORE berries with another pollinator close by, Why plant just three late berries , when you could plant one early, one mid, and one late variety, plants should be about 5-6 ft apart, you do not need a one on one ratio, but I would at least put the other one in the middle of the other two.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2009 at 1:13AM
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muddflapper is correct. You will get more and larger berries if you have a pollinator. I think you would be better to have an early, middle, and late producer so you don't have one huge crop all at once towards the end of the season. Why not have a steady supply of berries all season long?

    Bookmark   October 28, 2009 at 1:07PM
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Just be aware that with having different varieties that produce at different times...they also bloom at different times & may not cross pollinate. I have wild ones that I dug out of our woods & tame ones I bought (no idea of variety) but my wild ones are already setting berries by the time the tame ones bloom.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2009 at 5:05PM
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I am reviving this thread because I have a question - what is the maximum distance I can plant to still get the benefit of cross-pollinization? I ask because our current landscape plans include three bushes, but one is about 20 feet away from the other two. Will the bees still help pollinate the one that is farther away, or is it on its own there? Also - regarding the early/late question - I assumed different ripening meant different bloom time, and thus, no benefit from later or earlier-fruiting bushes. Should I have at least two for each part of the season (or at least some overlap, like one early, one early-mid and one mid)?

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 8:25PM
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Bradybb WA-Zone8

Twenty feet away should be fine.
Here is a link to a pdf bloom chart for some popular Blueberries,that might be helpful. Brady

Here is a link that might be useful: Blueberry Bloom Chart

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 11:46PM
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I do not mean to negate the previous comment; but I recall my nurseryman tell me that within 10 ft is optimal for blueberries.

That said, bees are known to travel across yards -- so it's not necessary to fuss over the distance -- I think you'll be fine with 20 ft.

Just my 2c.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 2:12PM
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Do you think the distance recommendation is more targeted at commercial growers that often truck in bees for pollination? With the way our bees (bumble and other native bees) fly around the the garden makes me think that 20 ft will not be a problem at all.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 10:31PM
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I have a related question. Last summer I planted two BlueCrop and one Duke. The Duke died due to the drought/heat. Will my remaining two BlueCrop pollinate each other, or do I need a different variety that blooms around the same time?

Also, since I'm switching to southern highbush hoping they will grow better in my climate, can a southern highbush pollinate a northern highbush?



    Bookmark   April 28, 2012 at 11:53AM
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Bradybb WA-Zone8

Hi Shelley,
The Bluecrops will fruit,but need a different Northern Highbush for better production and a Southern needs another Southern.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 11:30AM
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I like spuddiesel's idea of planting three Elliot's for the landscaping value; I have a hedgerow of eleven northerns with two Elliott's, two Bluecrop, two Reka, Duke, Blueray, Earliblue, Ozark and Spartan - my Elliot's really stand out as the most attractive of the bunch with their almost golden-green foliage. That said, as others have commented, a second cultivar is needed for good cross-pollenation. I'd recommend a middle ripening cultivar with high landscape value such as Toro or Bluecrop; if you have room, add a Reka for an early ripening variety - mine are still rather small, but by reputation they are have outstanding. landscape value. Chandler would closely match the size/shape and landscape value of an Elliot, which can be one of the bigger cultivars and would be a good pollenation partner - the drawback would be in having a lot of late-ripening varieties. In a garden setting, the rule of thumb is one wants a mix of early, middle and late varieties to maximize the number of weeks you'll have fresh berries.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 8:49AM
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