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

  • 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.
  • Gulf Coast (southern highbush)  productive, hardy shrub. Early season ripening with medium to large sweet fruit.  Self fertile.
  • Misty (southern highbush) early season ripening with medium to large sweet fruit.   Excellent flavor.  For  improved fruit set plant with Biloxi or Sharp Blue.
  • Sharp Blue (southern highbush) early season ripening with medium to large sweet fruit. For  improved fruit set plant with Misty or Biloxi.
  • Sunshine Blue  (southern highbush)   semi dwarf productive, attractive shrub with bright pink flowers. 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, Misty or Biloxi.
  • 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.
  • Powder Blue (rabbit eye) very hardy, late season variety.  Fruit is light blue and medium in size. For  improved fruit set plant with Brightwell.
  • Maru (rabbit eye)  is a proven heavy cropping  variety suitable for warmer areas. Early season ripening with medium to large sweet fruit.  For  improved fruit set plant with Rahi.
  • Rahi (rabbit eye) is a  vigorous upright shrub with outstanding fruit quality. Late season ripening with Loose clusters of firm, very light blue fruit. Very good storage life. For improved fruit set plant with Maru.

Comments 23

  1. Hi, I’m looking for a Chandler Blueberry bush, I believe they grow the largest fruit. I’m near Wollongong NSW, any idea on where I can buy one thanks.

  2. What Blueberry varieties are suitable for Melbourne? I read that Northern Bush is recommended for Victoria but does that include Melbourne and is it factoring in climate change? Melbourne does not get as cold as many parts of Victoria.

  3. Hi Fruit Tree Lane team, I’m after 3 blueberry bushes to be grown in South Australia. They’ll be in large pots in a partial shade position.
    What varieties would you recommend?

  4. We are looking for a dwarf blueberry for gippsland 2hrs from Melbourne.
    Wondering what varieties would suit and how big they would still grow. Planning on putting in a pot

    1. Post

      Hi Sheree,
      You will need to grow the northen highbush varieties. These are cold climate blue berries that must have cold winters in order to set fruit. They are relatives of Vaccinium corymbosum that comes from the Great Lakes area of northern America. These are the varieties that are mostly grown in Victoria and Tasmania BLUECROP, BRIGITTA, CAROLINE, DENISE, ELLIOTT, NORTHLAND, NUI, REKA and PURU.

  5. I’ve noticed the comments about taking care to select the right blueberry variety for location. I am in Hornsby area in Sydney, looking for 1-2 ms growing varieties that work together. ( Noting it has been commented that it’s best for fruiting to grow more than one type) . Suggestions please?! Thanks

    1. Post
  6. I live in Ocean Grove (Victorian Coast). Just wondering what varieties might grow best here. We get a very few frosts in winter and have warm summers. Thanks

  7. Hi I am currently looking to grow some blueberries. Live in Melbourne. Novicie at this and dont know what to look out for i.e. the variety and care.

    Predominantly am thinking of growing in pots. Have areas of full sun and part shade-mornings full sun after that

  8. Hi. just a warning for blueberry plant buyers. Make sure you buy the correct varieties for your area. I live on the coast just north of Brisbane and purchased 3 bb plants from my local Bunnings. Not doing my homework I bought Blue Rose, a northern highbush variety (why are they selling unsuitable varieties) They have been in pots for over a year and look great, any suggestions cheers John

    1. If they look great thats a plus. Feed them mate they are hungry buggers and if soil ain’t acidic enough they won’t fruit.
      I had bushes in my yard for 5 years before they fruited

    2. I’ve been in the plant horticultural industry for 30+ years.
      I’ve seen many times that Bunnings sells plants that either don’t flower, don’t bear or are unsuitable for the local conditions that they sell them in. It’s very much buyer beware. The staff many times don’t know better and/or the wholesale grower doesn’t either or couldn’t care less. One can not rely on Bunnings selling a product that it is suitable locally. You have to do your own research or find a local nursery person that knows and will only stock plants they recommend. This takes many years for experienced operators to learn and to trial themselves instead of just word of mouth in the industry. The shear amount of experience and knowledge that could be acquired in the gardening industry is incredible. One is expected to know 100’s if not 1000’s of different plants and their requirements/problems. Pest problems and their effective control, propagation techniques, running a nursery business profitably and dealing with the shear ignorance and unreasonableness of the public. Don’t ask me how I know.

    3. It has been 2 years since you posted about your blueberry plants. Did you get a good crop out of them please? Is the flavour good?

  9. Hi, for Toowoomba with frosts over winter but hot summers would the northern highish or the rabbit eye type be most suitable?
    Cheers, Nat

    1. Post

      Hi Nat,
      Both the Southern Highbush and Rabbit eye varieties are suitable for Toowoomba.. Northern Highbush are not suitable as they require much colder winters.

    2. Post

      Southern Highbush Gulf Coast, Sharpblue, Misty and Biloxi perform well Toowoomba. The Rabbit Eye Brightwell and Powder blue also work. Toowoomba does not get enough chilling hours for the Northern Highbush types.

  10. 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

      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. Hi,

        I am in Brisbane so see that I would need to get southern varieties. I have about 8m of fence line (full sun) I am wanting to plant (hopefully evergreen varieties) along. Am I better off getting several different southern varieties or multiples of a couple. Also is there a time of year it is better to plant blueberries? I am undecided about whether to use pots or straight into the ground, is one typically easier than the other to manage for a novice?


    1. Post

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

  11. 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)?


    1. Post

      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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