The Q&A Archives: Southwestern Blueberries

Question: What are some recommended blueberry varieties for the Southwest that are sold in mail order catalogs. For instance, does Burpee sell any blueberry varieities best suited for the New Mexico, high altitude areas? I plan to place two blueberry bushes in pots on my second story balcony. I read a book, The Complete Guide to Growing Berrries & Grapes by Louise Riotte that tells about the Rabbiteye Blueberry, however, I don't know who sells this, mail-order that is. Any tips for a hopeful novice? .

Answer: Rabbiteye blueberries are suited to warmer areas of the south. Colder regions are better suited to Northern highbush types of blueberries. A third type, Southern Highbush is fairly new and generally suited to areas between two other varieties. My guess is that the Northern highbush or Southern highbush would suit you better.

Select at least two varieties for cross pollination. Three or more varieties are even better. In order for the blueberries to do well you need to provide a rich, acidic, highly organic mix, such as half peat moss and half sand. Plant them in a large container such as a half whiskey barrel.

Keep them moist but not soggy as they are not drought tolerant at all. They will do best with water in the neutral to acid range. This may be a major problem for your blueberry plants. Many areas have high pH water or water high in salts, sodium or bicarbonates, all of which are detrimental to blueberries. You may need to collect rainwater if your tap water is unsuitable. Of the three types, rabbiteye may be slightly more tolerant of less-than-ideal soil and water conditions.

Northern highbush varieties to consider include Blueray, Bluecrop, Patriot and Blue Jay.
Rabbiteye varieties to consider,if you choose to try them, are Tifblue, Delite, Climax, Premier and Woodard.
Southern highbush varieties include O'Neal, Georgiagem, Sharpblue, and Misty.

Here are some mailorder sources:

Finch Blueberry Nursery; P.O. Box 699; Bailey, North Carolina 27807; (919) 235-4664.
(Rabbiteye, Northern Highbush, and Southern Highbush)

Ison's Nursery And Vineyards
(Rabbiteye only)

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