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Best blueberry varieties for southwest Virginia

Southern highbush blueberries

Most of our blueberries were a wedding present, and while I vastly appreciated the fact that my friends knew that fruit plants are the best gift for me, I was a bit dubious that rabbiteyes would fare well here in zone 6.  The three plants I'd ordered for myself were all northern highbush, which is what another friend is growing just down the road with great results.  However, when I rated each of our bushes on a scale of 0 (dead) to 10 (huge and covered with berries), I discovered that rabbiteyes just about topped the variety list.


Sulfur
Pine needles
Avg. health score
Species
Southern highbush
10
10
10
hybrid
Climax
10
5
7.5
rabbiteye
Delite
8
3
5.5
rabbiteye
Briteblue
6
1
3.5
rabbiteye
Herbert
4
n.a.
2
n. highbush
Brightwell
3
0
1.5
rabbiteye
Austin
2
3
2.5
rabbiteye
Atlantic
3
n.a.
1.5
n. highbush
Ivanhoe
0
n.a.
0
n. highbush
Average health score:
5.1
3.7
4.4


Southern highbush

Who actually topped the list?  Southern highbush, which I originally thought was a variety of rabbiteye, but which turns out to be a hybrid between rabbiteye and northern highbush.  This hybrid not only produced beautiful bushes that are loaded with berries this year, it also seems to be less sensitive to improper soil pH since even the ground I treated with pine needle leaf mold rather than sulfur yielded up a beautiful bush.

Granted, this comparison is a bit unfair to our northern highbush blueberries since the northern species is supposed to be smaller than rabbiteyes even when fully grown.  For all I know, our northern highbushes will shoot up in the next decade and meet or beat the rabbiteyes.  And it's also worth noting that our northern highbushes produced their first berries a couple of weeks before the southern highbush, who then beat out the rabbiteyes by another week or so.  So we might add more northern highbush after all to help fill in fruiting gaps.

Blueberry patch

However, if you live in our neck of the woods and are just looking for a couple of top-producing blueberries to add to your garden, I'd heartily recommend a southern highbush, followed by Climax and Delite among the rabbiteyes.  Plant now for 2017 crops!

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We have Climax blueberries and another advantage that I've found is that they put out runners that can root and be divided from the mother plant to produce more blueberries for free.
Comment by Brian Wed Jul 31 08:34:34 2013

One very unique homestead, $1,500 per acre, the opportunity of a lifetime