Blueberry bush
Organic Gardening

Growing Blueberries: What Variety is Best for You?

Learn how to grow blueberries with these basic care tips. This is the first post of a 2-part series. Part 1 discusses the different types of blueberry bushes you can find, along with information about each type. Part 2 discusses: how to plant and grow blueberries, soil and light requirements, how and when to prune, and pest and diseases to look out for.

Girl Holding blueberries in hands
How to Grow Blueberries & Different types of Bushes

Tidbits about Blueberries

When we moved to our current property, we already had raspberry canes and a blueberry bush. The first couple of years here, we didn’t get to enjoy any blueberries because the birds kept eating them! So I purchased a net to drape over the blueberry bush to deter the birds. We finally got to enjoy them last year with this simple technique. The net only stays up while the bush is producing fruit.

If you plan to use a net, make sure it has wide enough holes so pollinators can get through. Blueberries require pollination and bees LOVE blueberry bushes. The more beneficial insects you have pollinating, the more fruit the bushes produce.

One thing you’ll have to learn from gardening is to have patience. Sometimes it gets frustrating waiting for seeds to germinate, waiting for plants to mature… It’s something I’m working on! Blueberries are no exception to this. The first couple of years or so, a blueberry bush may not produce any fruit. They don’t reach maturity for 10 years.

How to Grow Blueberries: When are Blueberries in Season

Blueberries are in season and ready to harvest in July. Our blueberry bush produces fruit for an entire month or so. There were so many blueberries coming in that we were able to freeze some and use them as we went. Before producing fruit, the bush grows cute bell-shaped flowers. After the summer, the leaves turn a showy red for fall. The color is just magnificent!

Homegrown Blueberries in a bowl
Homegrown Blueberries in a bowl

How to Grow Blueberries: Types of Blueberry Bushes

To properly grow blueberries, it’s important to first know which variety is appropriate for your area and garden. Blueberries are native to the eastern part of the United States. There are four different types of blueberries: highbush, lowbush, hybrid half-high, and rabbiteye. I’ve included some information about each type of blueberry bush from how long before blueberry bushes produce fruit to how tall they grow, and more. Knowing the below information can let you know what to expect when you are growing blueberries, and know which type is the right kind for your area.

Highbush blueberries

Highbush blueberries are tall bushes, as you may have discerned by the name.

  • These are the most well known type of blueberry and most commonly sold blueberries in stores for their large fruit.
  • They can reach up to 8 feet tall!
  • They’ve been bred to tolerate cool temperatures.
  • There is a northern type of highbush and a southern type.
    • Northern types are typically grown in zones 4 to 8, but they may be able to grow in zone 3.
    • Southern types grow in zones 5 to 8. Southern highbush don’t tolerate the cold well and are suitable for a Mediterranean type climate or warmer climates.
  • Highbush have a higher yield than lowbush.

Lowbush Blueberries

This type of blueberry bush has its own advantages and characteristics.

  • They have sweeter fruit and are usually wild blueberries.
  • They are hardier and much shorter like a shrub in comparison to highbush. It is native to the New England area and grows well in zones 4 to 7. Lowbush only grow up to two feet tall and two feet wide.

Hybrid Half-high Blueberries

Hybrid Half-High is a hybrid of highbush and lowbush blueberries. They were bred to produce fruit at different times of the year: early, midseason, or late.

  • Lowbush blueberries can tolerate cold weather, while highbush can tolerate warmer weather. Hybrid half-high fall somewhere in between lowbush and highbush for its temperature tolerance.

Rabbiteye Blueberries

Rabbiteye Blueberries are native to the southeastern part of the United States.

  • They cannot tolerate alkaline soils and must grow in soil with a pH level of 4 to 5.5.
  • Rabbiteye are extremely sensitive to sodium and commercial fertilizers.
  • Most varieties mature at 10 years old, and can grow 15 feet tall and 10 feet wide!
  • Their season lasts from late May to July, and a mature rabbiteye can produce up to 15 pounds of fruit.

Blueberry bush
Blueberry Bush

To learn more about planting zones, see my blog post “How to Plan Your Vegetable Garden: Top 5 Important Things to Know”.

Other Gardening Posts that May Interest You

How to Determine Your Area’s Frost Dates

11 Key Garden Tips for Beginners: How to Start a Garden

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