Also known as
Highbush Blueberry, American Blueberry, New Jersey Blueberry, Southern Blueberry, Smallflower Blueberry, Highbush Huckleberry, Swamp blueberry
Vaccinium corymbosum3 by Tiia Monto (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Blueberries shouldn't be harvested too soon. They should be blue in colour and easily come loose from the shrub. Blueberries can be handpicked using your thumb to roll the fruit from the stem into your hand. Harvesting takes place from late Spring to Summer.
More images of Blueberry
Vaccinium corymbosum is an upright, deciduous shrub species from the Ericaceae family. Commonly known by the names Blueberry and Highbush Blueberry, amongst others. The Highbush Blueberry grows to medium size; it is indigenous to eastern North America and produces narrowly oval leaves that turn yellow, red and purple shades in autumn. This plant produces beautiful, pinkish-white, bell-shaped flowers which are well suited to both ornamental and kitchen gardens. The flowers lead onto edible, green berry fruits, which ripen to blue-black, termed blueberries. Due to their acid-loving nature, it is best to water them only with rainwater as tap water can have high levels of calcium and chlorine, which can raise the soil's pH. The fruits (berries) of the blueberry plant are commercially cultivated globally; to harvest, they should lift easily from the plant with no resistance. If the fruits do not easily come off the plant, leave them to ripen further. Blueberry has become a household name; it is often used as an ingredient in baking pies. The fruit is also regarded as a superfood and is very high in anti-oxidants!
Common problems with Blueberry
The most serious pest for blueberries is birds. These can be kept at bay using netting. Other pests cherry ringworm. Ensure good drainage to prevent root rot.
Blueberry Companion Plants
How to propagate Blueberry
Propagation can be done from hardwood or softwood cuttings, but softwood is preferred. Prepare the rooting soil with plenty of peat. Use misters to keep damp.
Seeds will need to be macerated to damage the seed coat, and then they will need to be stratified in the fridge for 1 month before they can be sown. Once the seed is fully prepared, they need to be sown into moist compost approximately 1cm in depth. The seeds can take 6-8 weeks to germinate. Sow during the spring and keep them 15-21 degrees to increase germination rates. The seedlings will need to be kept warm until they are 10-15cm tall and transplant into pots, put in a sunny area of the garden and keep warm.
Special features of Blueberry
Birds will happily eat all the berries from a bush and so you may need to construct some netting if you wish to eat the berries yourself.
Make a dense shrub that can be used as a hedge
Plant in acid (ericaceous) soil with a pH of between 4.5 and 5.5.
Other uses of Blueberry
Fruit, ornamental, foliage, hedging, border, bark Spring/Summer interest and bright autumn coloured leaves.
Berries are edible raw or can be made into desserts.
Used as a homoeopathic medicine due to their high levels of antioxidants.
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