growing-blueberries-in-florida

What Type of Blueberries Grow in Florida?

Since the winter season in Florida is mild and warm, not all blueberries will grow there. Native northern blueberries need high chilling time below 45°F (7.1°C) during the winter, so they can produce foliage and flowers in the spring. If you live in Florida, low-chill blueberry cultivars can produce fruit in mild winter climates.

Blueberries That Grow in Florida

Two of the blueberry bushes that grow in Florida are southern highbush (Vaccinium darrowii, Vaccinium virgatum, and Vaccinium corymbosum) and rabbiteye (Vaccinium virgatum). The low-chill blueberry cultivars of each of these blueberry types can survive north of Sebring, FL.

  • Rabbiteye – Grow in the parts of Florida with winter temperatures from 45°F (7.1°C) to 52°F (10.9°C).
  • Southern highbush – Grow south of Ocala but north of Sebring, where winter temperatures are 48°F (8.8°C) to 55°F (12.7°C).

Soil Conditions Required

Whether you plant rabbiteye or southern highbush blueberries, you need acidic soil, which can be hard to find naturally in Florida. To increase the acidity of the soil, you can add from two to three percent organic matter, such as pine bark or peat mulch. Just mix it into the soil, and it will decompose, increasing the acidity you need to grow blueberries.

You should also have well-drained soil. If the roots of blueberry bushes remain in puddled water or saturated soil, they can develop root rot. In many areas of Florida this isn’t a problem due to the sandy nature of the native soil.

Planting Blueberries

The best months for planting blueberries in Florida are from the middle of December to the middle of February. For the best results, choose blueberry bushes that have well-developed roots and are at least 2 feet tall. Before placing the root ball into the soil, loosen up the roots a little bit, spreading them out in the soil.

After you plant your blueberry bushes, spread pine bark mulch up to 4 feet in diameter around the base of the bushes and 3 inches deep. The mulch keeps the soil cool, adds organic matter and prevents weeds.

Blueberry Bush Maintenance

When you plant your blueberry bushes, prune them so they can grow strong canes and foliage. Choose the strongest and tallest canes, usually about three, and leave them alone. Prune the smallest and weakest looking branches. Also, if the plant seems tall compared to the root system, prune off one-third of the top. During the first year of planting, remove all the flower buds before any berries form. Even though you won’t get any berries the first year, removing the buds helps establish a strong blueberry bush.