Most people associate blueberry bushes with Northern landscapes, but the rabbiteye blueberry, a species called Vaccinium ashei, is actually native to the Southeastern United States. That means rabbiteyes can tolerate the heat, humidity, and acidic soils of southern gardens – all while producing delicious fruit.
Southern Living Plant Collection offers rabbiteye blueberry varieties developed through the University of Georgia breeding program so you know they have been rigorously tested. Researchers selected the best of the best: plants with larger fruits, higher yields, better flavor, and more vigor. And each variety is disease and pest resistant, so you don’t have to mess with dangerous pesticides. Now that is easy.
Harvest More Fruit
For greatest fruit production it is important to plant more than one variety together to provide cross-pollination. Pair varieties that bloom at the same time:
- Bless Your Heart™ and Takes the Cake™ Rabbiteye Blueberries are early-season bloomers and can be planted together for high yields. ‘Climax’ and ‘Premier’ are also good pollinators for these selections.
Also try planting pairs of both early- and late-season varieties to lengthen the harvest season.
Blueberries require acidic soil, ideally with pH between 4.5 to 5.2. Soil pH can be adjusted by applying sulfur several months before planting and again on an annual basis as needed. Dampened peat moss or milled pine bark is often mixed with soil in the planting hole to maintain soil moisture and acidity.
After planting, prune branches back by one-third and remove thin, weak branches around the base of the plant (see illustration). Also tip any side branches that remain after cutting plants back. Pruning removes flower buds and encourages plants to invest energy in root development rather than fruit production for the first growing season.
Young blueberries need adequate irrigation to establish healthy root systems. Be sure to water plants regularly throughout the growing season when rainfall is not adequate.
Blueberries are beautiful bushes, producing white, bell-shaped flowers in spring and turning vibrant shades of red and orange in autumn. The rabbiteye blueberries in the Southern Living Plant Collection are all compact, with an upright habit. Try planting them among ornamentals, but be sure to limit competition by allowing plenty of space between plants for root development.