5 of the Best Blueberry Varieties | Garden and Grass

“Blueberries: the only blues that make you feel good.”

These little berries are enjoyed in baked goods such as pies, muffins, cakes, and more or added as a delight to smoothie bowls. They are also eaten as a fresh or dried snack and are a favorite treat for all ages.

Before we dive right into which blueberry varieties are best for your home gardening, let’s hop on the learning train and introduce you to the fascinating world of blueberries.


Blueberries: An Overview

Taxonomy and General Characteristics

Blueberry is the generic name for a broad group of perennial flowering plants belonging to the genus Vaccinium and section Cyanococcus of the family Ericaceae.

The name blueberry is also used for the edible fruit/berries that grow on the plant (blueberries grown from blueberries – science can be pretty confusing at times).

Blueberries grow as prostrate shrubs that can vary in height from 10 cm to 4 m. Their leaves can either be deciduous or evergreen and range from ovate to lanceolate. The leaves vary among blueberry varieties and measure around 1 to 8 cm in length and 0.5 to 3.5 cm in width.

On the other hand, the flowers are bell-shaped. The flower color depends upon the blueberry varieties, and can be white, pale pink, red, or tinged green.

The berries produced are round, grow singly or in clusters, and have many tiny seeds. Their color changes from pale green to reddish-purple to indigo on ripening. These fruits vary in acidity and have a sweet taste.

The History and Origin of Blueberries

The Native Americans first recognized blueberries for their diverse uses in medicine and natural flavoring.

These berries were a symbol of great respect to the Northeast Native Americans to the point many folklore works were based on these fruits. The fruits’ calyx, resembling a five-pointed star, gained the name “star berries” and were described as a fruit sent by the Great Spirit to relieve children’s hunger during a period of famine.

Tea made from the leaves of wild blueberries was thought to be a good tonic for purifying blood, and wild blueberry root tea was used as a relaxant for women during labor.

Blueberry juice was used as an antitussive medication and served as a splendid dye for fabrics and baskets.

As food, dried berries were added to stews, soups, and meats (e.g., Sautauthig) and were consumed throughout the year.

Blueberries were an important crop the colonists learned to cultivate and store through the Native Americans.

In the 1900s, Elizabeth White and a USDA botanist, Dr. Frederick Coville, teamed up to domesticate the wild highbush blueberry to be grown commercially by farmers.

The first commercial crop of highbush blueberry was harvested successfully in 1916 in New Jersey and resulted in the plump blueberries eaten by many today.

Blueberries are now commercially grown in 38 states and other parts of the world, including South America, British Columbia, Germany, Poland, and Canada.

Fun fact: The USDA designates July as National Blueberry Month since it is the peak of the North American blueberry harvest.

Blueberry Varieties You Should Know

The Vaccinium genus includes more than 450 species and is known by different names around the world, for example, blaeberry in Scots, blåbær in Norwegian, myrtilles, and bleuets in French.

Here are the 5 major blueberry varieties grown commercially in the United States:

Lowbush Blueberry

The lowbush blueberry is commonly known as wild blueberries and scientifically as Vaccinium angustifolium. This variety has short, true bushes that only grow to a height of 1 to 2 feet (0.3-0.6 m).

Most lowbush blueberry varieties grow in USDA zones 3 to 6, but some are found in zones 2 and 7.

The lowbush is fire-tolerant, and their number increases in areas following wildfires.

The harvested berries are sweet but have a very strong blueberry taste.

Lowbush Blueberry

Northern Highbush Blueberry

Vaccinium corymbosum, or Northern highbush blueberry, is also commonly known as high blueberry or swap blueberry. These economically significant blueberries are a North American species and are the most widely grown variety around the world.

The Northern highbush blueberry takes a height of 6 to 12 feet (1.8-3.7 m) and requires the most constant pruning.

Some cultivars of Northern highbush include Blue gold, Blue crop, Hardy blue, Elliot, Patriot, Rubel, Legacy, and Jersey.

Most Northern highbush blueberry varieties are grown in USDA zones 3 to 7, but some cultivars, such as Elliot, can be grown in zone 8.

Northern Highbush Blueberry

Southern Highbush Blueberry

This particular blueberry variety is a hybrid cross between Vaccinium corymbosum and Vaccinium darrowii and is native to the Southeastern United States. These blueberries grow about 6 to 8 feet in height (1.8-2.4m).

The Southern highbush blueberries were bred by hybridization to allow cultivation in regions with mild winters. As a result, their flowers require fewer chilling hours to bloom.

Most cultivars are grown in USDA zones 6 to 9 and include Misty, O’Neal, Ozark blue, Sharp blue, Sunshine blue, etc.

Southern Highbush Blueberry

Rabbiteye Blueberry

Generally known as Southern black blueberry and scientifically named as Vaccinium virgatum, this variety is native to the Southeastern US.

The blueberries are termed “rabbiteye” as the calyx of the berries resembles a rabbit’s eye.

The Rabbiteye blueberry grows to a height of 6 to 10 feet (1.8-3 m) and a width of up to 3 feet. Compared to other blueberry varieties, this variety is characterized by higher resistance to pests and diseases, resulting in a longer lifespan.

The rabbiteye variety is intended for cultivation in areas with long, warm summers. It is grown in USDA zones 7 to 9 and is more susceptible to cold damage than Northern highbush.

Some cultivars include Powder blue, Tifblue, Brightwell, and Climax.

Rabbiteye Blueberry

Half-High Blueberry

The half-high blueberry is a hybrid between a plump Northern highbush and a cold-tolerant lowbush blueberry.

Compared to other blueberry varieties, the half-high are recommended for very cold climates since this variety is resistant to winter damage.

They are grown in USDA zones 3 to 5 and grow up to 2 to 4 feet tall (0.6-1.2m). They also require less pruning.

The half-high blueberry varieties include Bluegold, Northland, Northsky, Patriot, Polaris, etc.

Half-High Blueberry


Edible Berries Similar to Blueberries

Other berries that are similar to Vaccinium blueberries but belonging to different genus include:

  •  Whortleberry
  •  Bilberries
  •  Blaeberry
  •  Haskap berry
  •  Huckleberries
  •  Salal Bushes etc.

Toxic Berries Similar to Blueberries

Not all blueberries are edible. Before consuming the berries, be sure to check their information to make sure they are edible. Here are three poisonous berries that are very similar to blueberries:

  • Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana)
  • Moonseed (Menispermum canadense)
  • Black nightshade (Solanum nigrum)

Why Should You Opt for Growing Blueberries?

In addition to adding ornamental value to your garden, here are several other benefits your blueberry harvest can provide:

  • You can have your direct fresh supply of blueberries for a variety of delicious recipes.
  • Blueberries are considered one of the best superfoods. These small berries are packed with antioxidants, primarily anthocyanins, that protect the body from free radicals. Therefore, they play an important role in slowing down aging and preventing the risk of developing cancers.
  • One serving (148-gram) of blueberries contains 84 calories and has 4 grams of fiber, 24% of the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) of Vitamin C, 36% of the RDA of Vitamin K, 25% of the RDA of Manganese, small amounts of other nutrients, and 85% water. This low-calorie, high-fiber fruit is perfect for maintaining the body’s metabolism.
  • Consuming blueberries reduces the risk of heart disease as they effectively prevent oxidation and buildup of LDL cholesterol in the arteries and lower blood pressure.
  • Blueberries improve memory and help maintain brain function by aiding the neuronal signaling pathway.
  • The low GI value, effects on glucose and insulin metabolism aids in lowering the blood sugar level. This makes these tiny berries a healthy snack for diabetics

The 3 Best Blueberry Varieties for Your Home Harvest

A homegrown harvest is a reward in itself. So far, we’ve learned about the fascinating world of blueberries, from their history to the blueberry varieties present and why you should grow them.

So now, you might be confused about the blueberry varieties that might be best suited for your home garden. But don’t worry, we have you covered.

Here are the 3 best blueberry varieties available on the market for home harvesting:

1. Heirloom Rabbiteye Blueberry Seeds – Top-Rated Blueberry Seeds

Top-Rated Blueberry Seeds
Heirloom Rabbiteye Blueberry Seeds

If you live in a warm climate region and are considering growing blueberries in your garden, then PAPCOOL’s Rabbiteye Blueberry seeds are perfect for you. Rabbiteye blueberries are best suited for warm climates and can be grown without requiring long chill hours.

The harvested, light blue medium to large fruit has a slightly tart flavor and is a real delight when turned into preserves or jams.

  • Number of seeds: 1000
  • Sunlight exposure: Full sun
  • Soil type: Acidic pH (4.0 to 5.5), well-drained, well-aerated soil
  • Hardiness zones: 7 to 9
  • Growth rate: 6 to 10 feet (2-3 m)
  • Item weight: 0.176 ounces

Pros

  • Non-GMO, heirloom seeds
  • Can tolerate warm temperatures
  • Disease-resistant
  • High yield, easy to grow

2. Rabbiteye Southern Blueberry Seeds – Best for Home Gardening

Best for Home Gardening
Southern Blueberry 50 Seeds

This particular cultivar of the blueberry varieties available is perfect for small-scale gardeners. The bush provides a decorative value for your garden all year round, and its medium-sized sweet berries are a real treat.

  • Number of seeds: 50
  • Sunlight exposure: Full sun
  • Soil type: Acidic pH(4.5 to 6), well-draining; Loam Soil, dry, rocky soils, sandy and gravelly soils, and heavy clay.
  • Hardiness zones: USDA hardiness zones 3 to 8
  • Growth rate: 12 to 36 inches

The easy-growing and low-maintenance nature of the Southern dwarf bush make these seeds ideal for your home garden. Pink flowers blossom in the spring, and stunning blue-green leaves turn burgundy red in the fall.

Pros

  • Non-GMO certified
  • Can tolerate any variety of soil
  • Can be grown in containers that can easily be kept in a small-spaced garden.

3. PAPCOOL Rabbiteye Blueberry Seeds Mega Pack – Mega Pack For the Best Price

Mega Pack For the Best Price
Rabbiteye Blueberry Seeds Mega Pack

If 1000 seeds aren’t enough for your garden, this pack of 2000+ PAPCOOL Rabbiteye blueberry seeds, available for the best price, is your solution.

The seeds have the same characteristics as the ones described above:

  • Number of seeds: 2000
  • Sunlight exposure: Full sun
  • Soil type: Acidic pH (4.0 to 5.5), well-drained, well-aerated soil
  • Hardiness zones: 7 to 9
  • Growth rate: 6 to 10 feet (2-3 m)
  • Item weight: 0.32 ounces

Pros

  • Non-GMO, high germination rate heirloom seeds
  • Can tolerate warm temperatures
  • Disease-resistant
  • High yield, easy to grow
  • A great bargain for double the amount

A Mini Guide to Growing Your Blueberries

  1. Determine the optimal blueberry variety according to the hardiness zone
  2. Depending on the region, select early spring or late autumn to grow blueberries
  3. Choose a planting site that gets enough sunlight
  4. Make sure the soil is well-drained and acidic (pH 4.5 to 6)
  5. Space your blueberry plants 2-2.5 m apart to ensure proper growth
  6. Water the soil frequently to help the roots stay moist
  7. Apply acid fertilizers monthly after planting to enhance the nutrition
  8. Add 2-4 inches of mulch to preserve soil moisture and prevent weed formation

Frequently Asked Questions About Blueberry Varieties

What is the Best Tasting Blueberry?

The label of best-tasting blueberry is purely subjective and largely depends on everyone’s preferences. Some people prefer sweet berries, some acidic and some tart.

Numerous studies and food blogs have shown that many blueberry consumers highly prefer the Northern and Southern Highbush blueberry varieties.

So since the answer comes down to the likeness of your own taste buds, we can’t be exactly sure which blueberry you would find to be the best tasting. So let’s take this opportunity to start tasting different varieties!

What are the Most Popular Blueberry Varieties?

Northern Highbush blueberry varieties have gained popularity throughout the world, especially because they can be grown in a range of climates.

Compared to other blueberry varieties, the second most popular variety is the Southern Highbush blueberry. It has claimed its spot by being able to thrive in warmer climates, and the sweet taste of the berries is a bonus to its popularity.

Do you Prune Blueberry Bushes?

Pruning is an important step in caring for a blueberry bush. Removing old wood branches that don’t bear much fruit ensures better yield, shape, and size. This removal process also maintains a balance between the production of berries and the plant’s growth. Maintaining this balance results in the growth of larger fruit.

Pruning also helps to keep the shrubs at a manageable height and allows for adequate air circulation and sunlight to penetrate for proper growth.

When Should I Plant Blueberry Bushes?

It is generally recommended to plant your blueberry bushes in late fall or ideally in early spring. This is to avoid the danger of severe freezing.


Conclusion

So, are you ready to set up your home garden with blueberries? We hope that this insight into the world of blueberries helped you gain knowledge and developed your interest in the different blueberry varieties present.

Harvesting homegrown blueberries will save you some bucks and trips to the market for your delicious cooked goodies. In addition, your home garden will certainly gain a visual charm!

From being garden ornaments to superfoods, blueberries are definitely a great investment for your gardening hobbies.

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