Plant Common Name
Northern Highbush Blueberry
The sweet blueberries produced by this native, multi-stemmed shrub are a summer treat. Highbush blueberry is a large to medium-sized deciduous shrub native to eastern North America. In the wild, it can be found growing in diverse habitats from bogs to oak woods and dry barrens. Cultivated specimens grow well in sunny gardens with well-drained, acid soils and are valued for both their culinary and ornamental traits.
Simple green leaves emerge from the branches in mid-spring. These have smooth edges, a dull or lustrous sheen and turn brilliant shades of red, orange and purple in fall. In late spring, clusters of dainty, bell-shaped flowers appear at the ends of the branches. These may be white or pinkish and are lightly fragrant when smelled close up. The blueberry fruits turn from green to waxy blue by summer. Early-fruiting cultivars mature in early summer and late-fruiting types in midsummer. The sweet berries can be eaten fresh or raw and enjoyed in any blueberry dish. They are also valued by diverse wildlife from birds to bear.
For best growth and fruit production, highbush blueberry needs full to partial sun and organic, acid soil that’s very well-drained. Sandy soils or rocky soils are also tolerated. Prune selectively and refrain from shearing. Older branches that are four to five years old should be removed to make way for younger ones that bear more fruit. Always remove dead or dying branches.
Though most commonly grown as a shrub for culinary gardens, highbush blueberry also works well in mixed borders, informal hedges and wildlife plantings. Plant it with the equally colorful fall shrub, winterberry (Ilex verticillata), for a fantastic fall show!
AHS Heat Zone
7 - 1
USDA Hardiness Zone
3 - 7
2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17
Full Sun, Partial Sun
4'-12' / 1.2m - 3.7m
3'-10' / 0.9m - 3.0m
Late Spring, Early Summer
North America, Northeastern United States, Mid-Atlantic United States, Southeastern United States, North-Central United States, Central United States, South-Central United States, Northwestern United States, Texas
Edible, Feature Plant, Foundation, Fruit / Fruit Tree, Hedges, Mixed Border
Sharp or Has Thorns