Relatives: Rhododendron, Camellia, Heather, Heath

Blueberries were first cultivated in the United States by Elizabeth Coleman White in the southern New Jersey village of Whitesbog (NJDEP).

Maine produces 25 percent of all blueberries in North America, making it the largest producer in the world. Maine's 24,291 hectares (60,023 acres) of blueberry were propagated from native plants that occur naturally in the understorey of its coastal forests (Stubbs and Drummond). The Maine crop requires about 50,000 beehives for pollination, with most of the hives being trucked in from other states for that purpose (Stubbs and Drummond). Many towns in Maine lay claim to being the blueberry capital and several festivals are centered around the blueberry. The wild blueberry is the official fruit of Maine and is often as much a symbol of Maine as the lobster.

Blueberries are of the species of Vaccinium that are commercially grown and harvested just for their fruits. If the United States really wanted to lay claim to their 'own' fruit, the Blueberry just might fill the bill. It is truly an North American plant that has been grown and eaten by Native Americans for thousands of years. European settlers and visitors added Blueberries into everything they ate and drank- even letting them dry on the bush for eating through the winter. These are very healthy fruits that are full of good stuff for all of us, and are worth adding to the home garden. When shopping at the Grocery store, it almost seems you can get Blueberries year 'round.


The shrubs are full of stems and can be low growing or erect in habit. Blueberries are long lived and begin fruiting very early in their lives.
Leaves: Can be Evergreen or Deciduous, depending on cultivar and the actual age of the plant. Leaves are not very large and start life almost purple and change to a darker green when they mature. Leaf edges are serrated, and tend to be on the leathery side in texture.

Flowers: Blueberry flowers are a very pretty creamy white often with a hint of pink. They appear in the spring. Pollination is by insects, and many cultivars require nother cultivar planted nearby for pollination. However, planting more than one variety can increase quantity and quality even in self-fertile cultivars. Here in our area of North Carolina, there are enough wild blueberries (also called Huckleberries) to get some natural cross pollination, but the wild berries are inherently smaller and less juicy. 

Fruit: Small berries that start out light green in color, then gradually change to pink as they mature, and finally to a dark smoky blue when fully ripe.


Almost hassle free when mature, they are easy to tend and care for.
Location: Blueberries grow best in full sun but will also tolerate part sun or even full shade. Some protection from full sun in the hottest areas of the south might help the fruit, but here in North Carolina that has never been a real problem.
Temperature: Blueberries are very winter hardy in North Carolina and can take freezing temperatures well. Unlike most of our fruits that sit outside all winter in pots, we don't bother covering the Blueberry plants. I remember one very late frost that got to not only the Blueberry flowers but also nipped all our Crape Myrtles for that summer. But all came back strong the next spring and if anything, the Crape Myrtle flowers and Blueberry fruits were the best ever!
Chilling: Chilling refers to the number of hours below 45 degrees F, during the dormancy period. All fruit and nut trees need a specific amount of chilling hours before they will produce fruit. The amount varies with each variety and the hours need not be continuous. For example as listed: (500 hours).
Soil/water/nutrients: Blueberries will do quite well in most soil types but they don't like soils that will hold a lot of water (such as clay soils); this rots the Blueberry roots. (If you have a high clay content soil, try planting your Blueberries in raised beds). They like moisture, especially while setting fruit, BUT NOT TOO MUCH. They enjoy a fairly acidic pH, and loads of well composed organic material. HINT: find an old saw mill and get as much of the well rotted sawdust as you can get your hands on to incorporate into your Blueberry beds. Planting your Blueberries near pine trees will help keep your soil a tad on the acidic side. They don't do well in competition from grass and weeds, so mulch well and take care on weeding as they have shallow roots. Pruning: Bushes need to be pruned to allow light and air to penetrate to the berries, and failure to prune at all will eventually result in major declines to fruit production. Light pruning for shape can be done anytime, but hold off on any heavy pruning until plants are dormant in the winter.
Pests and diseases: The home gardener is unlikely to experience any problems with Blueberry plants bought from us, but we wanted you to be aware of possible problems. Root rot and occasional stem-rot are your major problems around here. Birds are also fond of Blueberries, as are neighbors, small children, and old people. Plant enough bushes for everyone.


There are Northern High and Low Bush varieties, Rabbiteye Blueberries, Half-High Blueberries, and Southern High Bush Blueberries. Rabbit Ridge Nursery offers the following Blueberry Cultivars, all of which are proven winners for our Climatic Zone and are all sold mature enough for immediate fruiting. To insure proper pollination, plant two different cultivars with overlapping bloom periods - for example, plant two mid season cultivars, or one late season cultivar and one mid/late season cultivar.

E means an Early Season bloomer
EM means an Early to Mid Season bloomer
M means a Mid Season bloomer
ML means a Mid to Late Season bloomer
L means a Late Season bloomer

(Click on Blueberry Variety to link to that Blueberry)