Blueberry Varieties

In general there are three types of blueberry plants that are cultivated throughout the world: southern highbush, rabbit eye and northern highbush. Southern highbush and rabbit eye varieties are suited to warmer climates and northern highbush types to cold, temperate areas.
Variety selection is critical when considering which blueberries to grow in your area. Keep in mind that warmer climate varieties will grow in cold climates but the fruit may be damaged by the late winter frosts. Alternatively  cold climate varieties will not set fruit reliably in warmer climates and the plants will suffer in the long hot summers.  Blueberry varieties will cross-pollinate  within group types and improved fruit set and an extended harvest season can be obtained by planting 3 or 4 varieties in the garden.

Southern highbush have the lowest chilling requirement. They originate from the Florida area in the USA and are hybrid varieties largely derived from Vaccinium darrowii x Vaccinium corymbosum. They are suited to the warmer subtropical climates of Australia and perform well in coastal and warmer inland regions from Sydney to far North QLD. Large commercial plantings in Coffs Harbour and northern NSW wales primarily consist on southern highbush varieties. The plants are generally semi-deciduous or evergreen depending on the climate. In warmer climates fruit usually begins to ripen on the bushes in winter and continues throughout spring.

Rabbit eye varieties are low chill varieties but are also adaptable to moderately cool climates. They are derived from the Vaccinium ashei species and are referred to as rabbit eyes because the immature pink fruit is similar to the pink eye of a rabbit. Once fully ripe the fruit is similar in colour to the other types. Rabbit eye varieties are generally very vigorous hardy varieties that produce later in the season than the southern highbush types. The plants are generally semi-deciduous or evergreen depending on the climate. In warmer climates fruit is usually begins to ripen on the bushes in spring and continues throughout summer.

Northern Highbush varieties are cold climate blueberries that require very cold winters to set fruit. They are derived from Vaccinium corymbosum that originates in the Great lakes region of northern America. The plants are fully deciduous and very frost hardy. The bulk of commercial blueberrys grown in Victoria and other colder regions of Australia are northen highbush varieties. In cooler climates these varieties general ripen around December and continue through to April.

Variety Descriptions

  • Gulf Coast (southern highbush)  productive, hardy shrub. Early season ripening with medium to large sweet fruit.  Self fertile.
  • Legacy (southern highbush) very hardy,  vigorous shrub.  Fruit is sweet  and medium in size. Mid season ripening.  For  improved fruit set plant with Gulf Coast.
  • Sharp Blue (southern highbush) early season ripening with medium to large sweet fruit. For  improved fruit set plant with Misty or Biloxi.
  • Biloxi (southern highbush) early to mid season ripening with large sweet fruit, often has a second crop later in the season. For  improved fruit set plant with Misty or Sharp Blue.
  • Misty (southern highbush) early season ripening with medium to large sweet fruit.   Excellent flavor.  For  improved fruit set plant with Biloxi or Sharp Blue.
  • Powder Blue (rabbit eye) very hardy, late season variety.  Fruit is light blue and medium in size. For  improved fruit set plant with Brightwell.
  • Brightwell/ Britewell (rabbit eye) vigorous upright shrub.  Early season to mid season ripening with medium to large sweet fruit.  For  improved fruit set plant with Powder Blue.

Comments 6

  1. Hi, I have been growing a plant in a pot for years. When we lived in a detached house it received full sun and frost in winter ( North Turramurra, Sydney) and fruited very well. We moved to a unit where it is still in a pot, but the area is warmer (Mosman) and it only receives about 3 hours sun a day. The fruiting has severely declined. Is this due to lack of sun, or perhaps not enough fertiliser? I am not sure what variety it is, but it used to grow vigorously.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Kerry,
      If it is not growing as vigorously it is likely that it is root system is becoming too congested and the tree needs to be transplanted into a larger pot or it is lacking fertilizer… or both.
      I suggest fertilizing the tree with a slow release fertilizer (Osmocote, Nutricote etc) at a rate of 3g per litre of potting mix every 6 month.
      Lack of sunlight may also be a contributing factor as olives prefer a full sun environment for optimal yield.

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Angus,
      The northern highbush varieties are suited to cold temperate climates and are available from nurseries in Victoria

  2. Hi, are the blueberry plants still available? And where can I buy them(I visited the Toowoomba Farmers market near TAFE last Saturday but couldn’t find your nursery stall)?

    Cheers
    June

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi June, We have blueberries in stock now in various sizes. We will be at the next Farmers Market on Nov 5th.
      Thanks Fruit Tree Lane

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