|Monday Melange: Highbush Blueberry|
|Written by Heleigh Bostwick Monday, 04 June 2012|
Highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) is a native shrub that is cultivated for its delicious fruits. Native to the eastern US, its range extends as far west as Illinois and Texas, as well as Washington State. A member of the heath family (Ericaceae) family, highbush blueberry is hardy to USDA zone 3.
Highbush blueberry blooms in May, the profuse, white to pinkish bell or urn-shaped flowers forming clusters on the branches. It is a multi-stemmed medium to large shrub with dense foliage and a somewhat rounded habit, typically growing 6 to 12 feet tall, and bears fruit in July and August that are edible and enjoyed by both people and wildlife. In the wild, highbush blueberry often grows in wet and sometimes swampy areas.
Highbush blueberry prefers full to partial sun and soils that are rich in organic matter and quite acidic with a pH between 4.5 and 5.5. It will also grow in sandy soils as long as there is adequate moisture. In the fall, the leaves of the highbush blueberry turn a blazing red, along with orange and yellow and are quite spectacular. Highbush blueberry is an excellent shrub for its edible fruits, attraction to wildlife, and use in naturalized planting, in shrub borders, or along watercourses. There's even a dwarf variety that's perfect for patio and container gardening.
Highbush blueberry is listed as endangered in Illinois.