Growing Blueberries


Please tell me the best blueberry bushes to grow in Middle Tennessee. I was born and raised in New Jersey and we had the best blueberries. Nashville, TN (zone 6b)
Elaine FurloughNashville, Tennessee


Blueberries are a North American native shrub and actually quite easy to grow. Even if you never harvest any berries, their interesting form and showy fall foliage make them worth planting in the garden.

There are many types of blueberries but Northern highbush, low bush, rabbiteye, and Southern highbush are the most common. The blueberries you remember from New Jersey were probably Northern highbush (Vaccinium corymbosum). In fact, it is the state fruit of New Jersey.

Northern highbush blueberries need a period of winter chilling, at least 2 months of temperatures below 40 degrees, so they are best suited for climates with cold winters.

Low bush blueberries are grown in the Northeast. They are low to the ground with a distinctive flavor. These are the blueberries you see growing in Maine.

Rabbiteye blueberries (Vaccinium ashei) are native to warmer climates. They fruit earlier than their northern cousins and the berries are smaller and sweeter. Rabbiteyes tend to be more adaptable and pest tolerant than other types.

The hybrid Southern highbush is the best suited for California and southern gardens in the U.S. They were developed specifically for heat tolerance and minimal winter chilling.

In Nashville it appears that you could grow Northern highbush, Southern highbush or rabbiteye blueberries with success.

The best time to plant blueberries is late winter and early spring. Plant more than one variety of the type you choose to encourage cross pollination. The payoff will be lots of big, sweet berries.

To ensure success provide your shrub with well-drained, loamy, acidic soil (pH of 4.0 to 5.5) and consistent moisture. Blueberries are shallow rooted so a thick layer of mulch is beneficial for keeping the soil cool and moist.

Except for protecting Northern highbush varieties from hot afternoon sun, site the shrubs in an area that receives at least 6 hours of light. If you select Northern highbush varieties consider planting them in a cool microclimate in your garden. Look for a spot that is shaded from afternoon sun, on a northern slope or out in the open with good air circulation. This will increase the odds for achieving the required chilling period even if you have a mild winter.

Blueberries do not need much fertilizer. In fact you should avoid feeding them in the first year. After that give them frequent, small applications of a fertilizer blending from azaleas or camellias.

Varieties to Try:
  • Northern Highbush: Berkeley, Bluecrop, Patriot, Coville, Herbert, and Jersey
  • Southern Highbush: Ozarkblue and South Moon
  • Rabbiteye: Climax, Tifblue, Garden Blue, Southland, Bluebelle, and Brightblue
Share this articlePrint this article
Related articlesSave this article in your favorites



by catzma1 on June 20, 2014 06:13
How do you pick herbs to downsize bush and harvest from a herb bush?

Fungus gnats

by Norma5Star on May 8, 2014 12:43
Wonderful! I am happy to finally have an answer to those tiny, annoying pests! Thank you P. Allen for saving Mom\'s house plants.

poultry problems

by dotti on September 15, 2013 02:27
I want to raise chickens and ducks but I don\'t have a coop. I live on 40 acre farm in ND. I am deciding between 6+ breeds of ducks and chickens but cant decide they\'re all pretty good egg layers and docile. I want pure breeds and have to have to have them all. What should I do? Where should I order them? Please help.

Virginia Creeper

by katherinelizabeth on August 11, 2013 12:41
Just another thought... the VC and the BK in my previous post are also nearly identical.

Targeting Just the Weed

by katherinelizabeth on August 11, 2013 12:39
If you want to use the synthetic weed killer close to good plants, try making a bottomless box out of an old cardboard one. Mark the outside of the box as such before you start spraying. Then place the box over the offending plant and spray... just it. Trick is to match the size of the box to the size of the weed you want to kill. But boxes are easy to come by, so you can make more than one. Had to do this to target some Bush Killer that came too close in my yard, and it did protect. Getting rid of the BK, however... well... :(

Dogwood tree

by gardenman18 on July 20, 2013 04:06
I want to learn how to plant a dogwood tree right way.

Clay Ground

by on February 3, 2013 09:18
Will Roses do good in very bad clay ground?

Theme music

by betsi.vesser on October 13, 2012 09:15
I love this piece of music! It is so calming and just right for all those who love gardens. It actually describes my 94 year old mom who still likes to get out and work around in her garden! Thank you for giving us this lovely piece (peace) of music on each show.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.