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Blueberry Bushes For Zone 9 – Growing Blueberries In Zone 9

Blueberry Bushes For Zone 9 – Growing Blueberries In Zone 9


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By: Amy Grant

Not all berries like the warmer temperatures in USDA zone 9, but there are hot weather loving blueberry plants suitable for this zone. In fact, there are native blueberries in abundance in some regions of zone 9. Which types of blueberry bushes are suited for zone 9? Read on to find out about zone 9 blueberries.

About Zone 9 Blueberries

Native to eastern North America, blueberries fit perfectly into zone 9 landscapes. The rabbiteye blueberry, Vaccinium ashei, can be found in river valleys in northern Florida and southeastern Georgia. In fact, there are at least eight native Vaccinium species found growing in the woods and swamps of Florida. Rabbiteye blueberries can be grown in zones 7-9 and can grow to over 10 feet (3 m.) in height.

Then there are the highbush blueberries. They require winter’s cold temps. Most highbush varieties grow in colder climates, but there are southern varieties that work well as blueberry bushes for zone 9 gardeners. These southern highbush varieties grow in zones 7-10 and grow upright to heights of between 5-6 feet (1.5-1.8 m.).

The earliest ripening southern highbush varieties ripen around 4-6 weeks earlier than the earliest rabbiteye types of berry. Both types of hot weather blueberry plants need another plant for cross pollination. That is, you need another southern highbush to pollinate a southern highbush and another rabbiteye to pollinate a rabbiteye.

Blueberries in zone 9 can be used in cluster plantings, as specimen plants or as hedges. They make a lovely addition to the landscape almost year round, with their delicate white flowers in the spring, their bright blue fruit during the summer and the changing colors of their foliage in the fall. Another bonus for the gardener is their resistance to most diseases and insect pests.

All blueberries like their soil acidic. They have fine surface roots that you should avoid disturbing when cultivating around them. They need full sun, well-draining soil and consistent irrigation for the best fruit production.

Types of Blueberry Bushes for Zone 9

Rabbiteye blueberries may be early, mid, or late season, depending upon the variety. Early season rabbiteyes have the potential for damage due to possible late spring freezes, so to be really safe, choose a mid- to late season rabbiteye if sudden late freezes are common in your region.

Mid- and late season rabbiteye cultivars include Brightwell, Chaucer, Powderblue and Tifblue.

Southern highbush blueberries were developed by crossing northern highbush varieties with wild blueberries native to the southeastern United States. Southern highbush blueberries include the following:

  • Bluecrisp
  • Emerald
  • Gulf Coast
  • Jewel
  • Millenia
  • Misty
  • Santa Fe
  • Sapphire
  • Sharpblue
  • Southmoon
  • Star
  • Windsor

This article was last updated on

Read more about Zone 9, 10 & 11


Blueberry Plant Profile

Blueberries include several species of flowering, fruiting shrubs within the Vaccinium genus, all native to North America. Blueberry bushes have pointed, oblong leaves that are leathery to the touch, turning a brilliant red in the fall. The flowers appear in clusters of small, white, bell-shaped blooms in late spring, leading to deliciously edible berries that ripen from green to a deep purple-blue. Relatives within the Vaccinium genus include the bilberry, cranberry, huckleberry, and lingonberry.

Cultivated blueberries are continually being bred for higher yields, heat and cold tolerance, and better pest resistance. Still, some people prefer the blueberries that grow wild in forests and fields. Wild berries are smaller, and it will take you a while to pick enough for a pie, but many people find them the sweetest to eat.

Blueberries are best planted in early spring. Be patient: Three-year-old plants may produce a small harvest, but a meaningful harvest may take as long as six years.

Botanical Name Vaccinium spp.
Common Name Blueberries
Plant Type Deciduous fruiting shrub
Size 1 to 6 ft. (depends on variety)
Sun Exposure Full sun
Soil Type Rich, well-draining high in organic matter
Soil pH Acidic (4.0 to 5.2)
Hardiness Zones 3 to 10 (varies by species)
Native Area North America
Toxicity None


Chilling Hours

The term "chilling hours" refers to the amount of time a dormant plant needs for the production of growth-promoting hormones to overcome the growth-inhibiting hormones that caused its dormancy in the first place. While ambient temperatures between 35 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit will provide the cold hours necessary to trigger development of growth promoting hormones, 45 degrees is ideal. Chilling hours are only a guide, but they help gardeners determine which fruit-producing plants are best suited for their regions.


Gumbo Soil: Here's one berry good plant for the garden

Misty blueberries. Gumbo Soil gardener Jim Molony says growing blueberries, even in the south in our gumbo soil, is not as hard as you might think.

Blueberry bushes can turn various shades of red when fall weather arrives.

A hibiscus bloom from the Erin Rachael cultivar.

Fresh blueberries not only taste wonderful, the fruit also provides more health benefits per ounce than just about every other raw fruit available. Recent research indicates blueberries are higher in antioxidants than any other fruit or vegetable, antioxidants which are believed to be important in battling Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, stroke, heart disease and failing eyesight.

According to nutritiondata.com, blueberries are high in Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin C, Niacin, and the minerals calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and iron.

So why aren’t you growing them?

Growing blueberries, even in the south in our gumbo soil, is not as hard as you might think. The key is selecting the right variety and making sure the conditions are adequate. If you do that, and follow the correct procedures, your blueberry bushes will thrive and provide you with fresh berries for years to come.

There are three types of blueberry plants: Northern Highbush, Southern Highbush or rabbiteye and Low bush or wild blueberry. In our area the Southern Highbush or rabbiteye types are the best as we are in Zone 9 and the hot and humid conditions are handled best by these cultivars.

The next consideration is soil. Blueberries need acidic soil, more acidic than generally found in our area. That means containers are necessary. Some people can grow blueberries in the ground, and I admire and respect them for that skill. But keeping the plants thriving for most of us means keeping a controlled environment. The Brazoria County Master Gardener’s group has a plan that I’ve tried, and I’m here to tell you it works (see photos).

I started with large plastic pots (I used 50 gallon tree pots but smaller like the 25 gallon used by BCMG will work). I mixed three parts peat moss to one part finely shredded pine bark mulch in each pot, mixed thoroughly. In each pot I planted one bareroot blueberry plant.

The varieties I chose were Misty, Gulf Coast and Sharpblue. The BCMG group used Misty, Sharpblue, Climax, Tiftblue and Alapaha. I did not add any any soil to the peat/pine mix. I kept the plants moist until established and put the pots in an area that received plenty of morning sun but some shade in the late afternoon.

This mixture and the fact that it was potted enabled me to control the moisture — key during last summer’s drought — while keeping the acidity between 4.0 and 6.0.

I did not fertilize them the first year. Blueberry roots lack the fibers or ‘hair’ of other plants and thus are very sensitive and can easily be burned by too much fertilizer. If you do fertilize be careful not to over fertilize. Slow release fertilizers are a good option but keep them away from the base of the plant.

I wasn’t planning on getting any blueberries until the third year but already the plants are laden with hundreds of plump berries. They form green, then turn reddish and finally the deep blue that signals the fruit is ripe. Some experts advocate pinching off the blooms the first year or two so the plant puts more energy in establishing roots. I did not do that and while it may delay full production I’m happy with the tasty treats the plants have already provided.

There have been no pest problems other than birds, which love the fruit, but that has been remedied with the addition of netting.

Blueberry bushes have other benefits. They can live for decades and their fall foliage turns a spectacular pink.

HIBISCUS SHOW

Don’t forget the first of three hibiscus shows put on by the Space City Chapter of the American Hibiscus Society will be held Sunday (April 22) at the East Harris County Activity Center, 7340 Spencer Highway, Pasadena, 77505.

Whether you are a long-time hibiscus enthusiast, have one or two in your yard or don’t know what a hibiscus looks like, the shows will have something of interest to you. Browse at your own pace through hundreds of exotic blooms that are on display for judging. There will be plants to view and plants to buy. The growers on hand will be able to answer your hibiscus questions and offer tips on the care of the plants.

The SCCAHS is a good place to find some of the more popular varieties of hibiscus, such as Texas Star, Flare, Tarantella and Erin Rachael.


Watch the video: Planting Blueberries Zone 8b PNW