University of Maryland Extension


Blueberry Planting and Maintenance

blueberry cluster

Several species of blueberry are indigenous to the United States. These include the lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) found in Maine and Canada; the rabbit eye blueberry (V. ashei) grown in the southern United States; and the Northern highbush blueberry (V. corymbosum), the species most widely grown in Maryland. There are several other native blueberry species growing wild in Maryland. Rabbiteye blueberry can be grown in warmer areas of the state, and Southern highbush blueberry (cross between Northern highbush and V. darrowii, native to the South) is proving to be an excellent choice for most locations east of Frederick, MD. Northern highbush blueberry is the most cold hardy of the major cultivated types of blueberry.

The blueberry plant is a multi-stemmed shrub, consisting of a shallow root system and woody stems, or canes, that originate from the crown of the plant. The root system is very fibrous but devoid of root hairs. (Root hairs function in most plants by increasing the surface area of the root for water and nutrient uptake.) This characteristic makes the blueberry plant very sensitive to changing soil/water conditions.

A mature, cultivated blueberry usually has 12 to 18 canes. Growth habits vary among cultivars, with some bushes growing very upright and others having a more spreading growth habit. Fruit is borne on buds formed the previous growing season.

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