Rabbiteye blueberry is La. Super Plant

Rabbiteye blueberries. Photo courtesy of LSU AgCenter.

Rabbiteye blueberries. Photo courtesy of LSU AgCenter.

LSU AgCenter

The LSU AgCenter’s Louisiana Super Plant program is now on its fifth year of educating, promoting, recommending and marketing truly great landscape plants that have performed well in test gardens at the Hammond Research Station and elsewhere around the state. Plant selections are announced each spring and fall.

Several gardeners have requested information on good vegetable and fruit plants to be added to the Louisiana Super Plant program. The LSU AgCenter is pleased to announce a popular fruit crop for Louisiana as a fall 20144 Louisiana Super Plant.

A dual purpose shrub selected as a Louisiana Super Plant for this fall is the rabbiteye blueberry (Vaccinium ashei) varieties. Blueberries will fit into any home landscape and make a great edible landscape addition.

Blueberries are native to Louisiana. The best performing blueberries are the rabbiteyes. These do well across the state. Popular varieties include Climax, Tifblue, Brightwell, Premier and others. Blueberries yield fruit at an early age and typically harvest is from mid to late May to early July in Louisiana.

One important requirement for blueberries is acid soil. In regard to blueberries, a soil pH of 5.0-5-5 is recommended.  This is similar to what is needed for azaleas, camellias and gardenias. Soil where blueberries are planted needs to be loose, well drained and high in organic matter.  Blueberries can be adapted to container culture if your native soil is not right.

Blueberries need full sun to yield the best fruit. This typically means 8 hours of sun daily. In order to control weeds, conserve soil moisture and create a good environment for the root system, mulch blueberries with pine straw.

When planting blueberries,use multiple varieties.  This will aid in better fruit set and pollination. Plant individual plants on six foot spacings Blueberries can be as tall as 6-8 feet after a few years but you can also keep them hedged. Lightly prune in early summer after harvest is completed.

Fertilize each year in the early spring after new growth begins. Re-fertilize if needed in early summer with a light application after harvest. Irrigate as needed through the season.

Blueberries were chosen as a Louisiana Super Plant for the following reasons – low maintenance, very few insect and disease problems, ornamental and fruit crop use, use as a wildlife / bird plant, and fall foliage color.

So, here are your keys to success for rabbiteye blueberries:

  • Semi-evergreen shrub
  • Full sun
  • Grows 8 feet tall by 6 feet wide
  • Space 4 to 6 feet apart, depending on use
  • Bell-shaped white flowers appear in early spring
  • Bluish-green lustrous leaves turn an attractive red in fall
  • Harvest dark blue fruit in May and June
  • Demands an acidic soil with pH of 4.5-5.5 and well drained
  • Low maintenance fruiting plant that is great for edible landscaping
  • Plant multiple varieties for best fruit production

Fall is the best time to add new blueberry plants to the landscape or fruit orchard planting.

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