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Rabbiteye blueberry named Louisiana Super Plant

News Release Distributed 10/10/14

By Allen Owings
LSU AgCenter horticulturist

HAMMOND, La. – The LSU AgCenter’s Louisiana Super Plant program is now on its fifth year of educating, promoting, recommending and marketing truly great landscape plants that have performed well in test gardens at the Hammond Research Station and elsewhere around the state. Plant selections are announced each spring and fall.

Several gardeners have asked about adding information on good vegetable and fruit plants to the Louisiana Super Plant program. In response, AgCenter is announcing our first fruit as a fall 2014 Louisiana Super Plant.

Rabbiteye blueberry (Vaccinium ashei) is a dual-purpose shrub selected as a Louisiana Super Plant for this fall.

Blueberries will fit into any home landscape and make a great edible addition. Native to Louisiana, the best-performing blueberries are the rabbiteyes. These do well across the state. Popular varieties include Climax, Tifblue, Brightwell, Premier and others.

Blueberries produce fruit at an early age, and harvest typically begins in mid- to late May and continues to early July in Louisiana.

One important requirement for blueberries is acid soil, with a pH of 4.5 to 5.5 recommended. This is similar to what is needed for azaleas, camellias and gardenias. Soil where blueberries are planted needs to be loose, well-drained and high in organic matter. Blueberries can be adapted to container culture if your native soil is incompatible.

Blueberries need full sun to yield the best fruit. This typically means 8 hours of sun daily. In addition, it’s a good idea to mulch blueberries with pine straw in order to control weeds, conserve soil moisture and create a good environment for the root system.

When planting blueberries, use multiple varieties. This will aid in better fruit set and pollination. Plant individual plants on 6-foot spacings. Plants can be as tall as 6-8 feet after a few years, but you can keep them hedged if you wish by lightly pruning in summer after harvest is completed.

Fertilize each year in the early spring after new growth begins. Re-fertilize if needed in early summer with a light application after harvest. Irrigate as needed through the season.

In addition to providing an edible crop, blueberries were chosen as a Louisiana Super Plant because they require low maintenance, have very few insect and disease problems, are ornamental, provide food for wildlife and offer fall foliage color.

Here are your keys to success with rabbiteye blueberries:

– Semi-evergreen shrub.

– Full sun.

– Grows 8 feet tall by 6 feet wide.

– Space 4 to 6 feet apart, depending on use.

– Bell-shaped white flowers appear in early spring.

– Bluish-green lustrous leaves turn to an attractive red in fall.

– Harvest dark blue fruit in May and June.

– Requires a well-drained acidic soil with pH of 4.5-5.5.

– Low-maintenance fruiting plant that is great for an edible landscaping.

– Multiple varieties for best fruit production.

Fall is the best time to add new blueberry plants to the landscape or fruit orchard.

You can see more about work being done in landscape horticulture by visiting the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station website. Also, like us on Facebook. You can find an abundance of landscape information for both home gardeners and industry professionals at both sites.

Rick Bogren
Last Updated: 10/10/2014 9:41:30 AM

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