A native fruit hits the big time
Consumed for centuries by native North Americans and cultivated for over 100 years on farms and in home gardens, blueberries have really hit the big time! Global production has skyrocketed in the last 15 years. Health benefits are the primary reason these flavorful and versatile berries are so widely planted and enjoyed around the world. Low in fat and sodium, blueberries are an excellent source of fiber, manganese and Vitamins C and K.
Blueberries didn't grow wild where I lived in southern Ohio, and no one I knew grew them, so when I went hiking in areas where they did grow, I was always thrilled to pick and eat the small, flavorful fruit. Years later, while visiting a friend who had a small farm in Maine, I saw one of the farmhands walk by with a big bowl of freshly picked blueberries from their cultivated patch. I could not get over the size of those fruit. My love of blueberries has since increased. I think you'll have the same experience as you learn more about blueberries and grow some of your own.
Native to North America and popular around the world, blueberries provide the fiber, manganese and vitamins associated with a healthy diet.
What questions should I ask before buying blueberry plants?
When you see blueberry plants for sale online, in a catalog or at the garden center, there are a number of questions to consider before purchasing.
What's the most flavorful blueberry variety?
Ka-Bluey is the best with its explosive taste and crisp, sweet, richly flavored berries.
Will blueberries grow in my hardiness zone?
Blueberries can be grown as far north as zone 3 and as far south as zone 10.
How easy are blueberry plants to grow?
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Blueberry bushes add beauty to home landscapes
Blueberries are an excellent choice for your home landscape because they provide three seasons of interest: delightful flowers in spring, blue fruit in summer, and red & orange foliage in fall.
Duke Blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) grows 5-7 ft. tall, taller than many blueberry bushes. This makes it ideal to plant as a hedge for gardeners in zones 5-8. The blueberry plants produce high yields of light blue, medium-to-large berries with a good flavor, and the foliage turns yellow and orange in the fall.
Pink Lemonade Blueberry
Pink Lemonade Blueberry (Vaccinium) is the first-ever pink blueberry. Growing in zones 4-8, it bears deep pink fruit that's ready for harvest in late summer. The medium-size fruits have a mild, pleasant flavor and high sugar content--and they're rich in antioxidants, too. The blueberry plants grow 4-5 ft tall.
Best Fresh Eating Blueberries
How long is the fruiting season?
In addition to ensuring good pollination, planting multiple varieties can extend your harvest. An 8 to 10 week harvest period is possible if you pay attention to ripening times. A good Northern Highbush combination for extending the harvest season would include Reka (early), Chandler (midseason) and Jersey (late season).
How will blueberry bushes affect the attractiveness of my home landscape?
Blueberries are an excellent edible, ornamental choice for your home landscape because they provide three seasons of interest. In the spring, the curious upside-down clusters of urn-shaped flowers will likely elicit comments from passersby. Because the flowers are a good source of nectar and pollen for native bees and honeybees, they are sure to attract better pollinators to your garden.
These fruiting plants are also attractive in the summer landscape. Gardeners are always longing to add blue color to their gardens. And who could deny the beauty of a bush fully loaded with powder-blue fruit?
When autumn rolls around, the brilliant oranges and reds of the fall foliage are rivaled by few other shrubs. The most stunning autumn color combination can be seen in our own double cropping Echo blueberry. Echo's second crop ripens as its foliage changes color. The sight of ripening blue fruit against a backdrop of dazzling red foliage is unforgettable!