Good Blueberry choices for the Pacific Northwest

March 6, 2014 12:00 am

Did you know that blueberries are related to Azaleas and Rhododendrons? No wonder then, that they grow as well as they do here in the Pacific Northwest. There are three categories of blueberries; Highbush, Lowbush, and a hybrid of the two – the so called Half-highs. For garden variety purposes, most of the breeding efforts have gone into the Highbush variety, but there are several excellent Lowbush varieties on the market too. They are particularly interesting to those of us living in small urban lots, as they are far easier to fit in.

When you do decide to grow blueberries, there are a few things to consider. First, you have to have at least two. It doesn’t matter what variety they are – they are not at all picky in that regard. Be sure to plant them in relatively close proximity to each other for best pollination. This will also help our bees. You see, there is a economic logic to their foraging – a concept called “flower constancy”. This means that they prefer the same kind of flowers planted in drifts so that they don’t have to expel energy flying all over the place to pollinate. Pretty cool, huh?

Blueberries are, however, picky with the soil. Like their floriferous cousins, they like their soil on the acidic side, which is usually what we can offer them here in our area. They also like well-drained soil, but for their roots to be moist. Cotton seed meal is a good fertilizer for blueberries.  If you can provide them all that, you are most assuredly in for a treat!

Lastly, not all blueberry bushes are created equal. I’m listing a few that do well in our climate down below. Since different varieties set berries at different times, you can plan it so that you can have berries from late June through August.

Bluetta – a 3’ – 5’ upright compact and cold resistant sort that sets berries very early.

Bluegold – a 3’ – 5’ high mid-season high-yield producer with pretty, golden fall color and yellow winter wood.

Brunswick – a US native, coldhardy lowbush which tolerates sandy soils and part shade. It only grows 12”-18” tall and produces berries in mid-season. Red fall foliage, but best of all – fantastic red wood with yellow flowers in spring  – just when you need a shot of color the most!

 Jelly bean – a miniature shrub (1’ – 2’) perfect for a pot on a patio, or a low hedge along a path. Berries in mid-season, and pretty red-edged leaves turning a fabulous red fall color.

Sunshine Blue – a highbush variety perfect for the PNW. Berries in mid-late summer.

Top Hat – a 2’ tall lowbush which produces in mid-season. Because of its well-behaved spherical growth habit, it makes a great landscape plant.

Best of all – we carry them all here at the Garden Center! Come get your favorites!