Author Topic: Recommended blueberry bushes for Central Florida  (Read 456 times)

bovine421

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Recommended blueberry bushes for Central Florida
« on: September 17, 2023, 11:07:04 AM »
What are some good blueberry varieties for Orlando area. Are some better grown in containers than others. And where is a good place to purchase some don't mind making a road trip🙂
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Galatians522

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Re: Recommended blueberry bushes for Central Florida
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2023, 04:04:14 PM »
Sharpeblue is the original southern highbush and it is still one of my favorites for flavor and ease of growth. The main knock against it commercially is that the berries can scar when picked, so they don't hold as long as some others in storage. It also ripened a little later than some of the ones that came after it. Harttman's was one of the few places we used to buy plants that also sells retail.

https://hartmannsplantcompany.com/wholesale/product/sharpblue/

Jewel is another good one. Berries are a little larger and more uniform but just a touch more tart. Windsor had huge berries, but the bush was a little more finicky. Gulf Coast was a very tough plant--developed by USDA instead of IFAS the berries were not quite as tasty as Sharpeblue, but they were good enough. Emerald is large and poor flavored in my opinion. Spring wide was a little better, but still not my favorite. Misty is disease prone. Saphire was also disease prone, but the berries were nice. Paloma was small. Star never got enough chill. Rabbit eye varieties were not very productive for us, but we never tried many because the season was wrong. There are a bunch of others that I never tried because we got out of the business. Of those, I hear that other people think highly of the flavor of Sweetcrisp. I have no idea how disease resistant it is. All southern highbush varieties can grow indefinitely in a 25 gallon pot or 1/2 a 55 gal plastic drum with holes drilled for drainage. Prune after harveat in May. Fertilize with Monopotassium Phosphate and 20-20-20. A fungicide spray every now and then is helpful.

Calusa

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Re: Recommended blueberry bushes for Central Florida
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2023, 05:31:50 PM »
I tried growing some Jewels a couple of years ago in a raised bed filled with a mixture of topsoil and pine bark, which is supposed to provide the acidic spil blueberries like. They grew for a few months, produced a few berries, then declined, turned brown and died one by one. At a total loss as to what happened but I give up on any further attempts. Additionally, what berries they produced were snatched by birds just as they ripened. How can you grow berries when the birds swipe them?

fruitnut1944

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Re: Recommended blueberry bushes for Central Florida
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2023, 06:03:47 PM »
Sweetcrisp, Springwide, and Springhigh are the ones I'm looking for.

Galatians522

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Re: Recommended blueberry bushes for Central Florida
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2023, 10:50:10 PM »
I tried growing some Jewels a couple of years ago in a raised bed filled with a mixture of topsoil and pine bark, which is supposed to provide the acidic spil blueberries like. They grew for a few months, produced a few berries, then declined, turned brown and died one by one. At a total loss as to what happened but I give up on any further attempts. Additionally, what berries they produced were snatched by birds just as they ripened. How can you grow berries when the birds swipe them?

If I wanted to grow some again just for my family, I would buy small cheap plants like in the link I posted and spend the savings on bird netting. You can cover 10 plants pretty easily. Ph should not have been much of an issue in most Florida soils north of Lake Okechobee. Phytophera root rot is the biggest problem and we lost many bushes to that disease. Blueberries are all grown own root from cuttings, but I would seriously consider grafting to Sparkleberry (Vaccinum arboreum) since it is an incredibly tough and adaptable rootstock. UF has done some studies and the two are compatible.

Galatians522

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Re: Recommended blueberry bushes for Central Florida
« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2023, 11:00:14 PM »
Sweetcrisp, Springwide, and Springhigh are the ones I'm looking for.

I know from other posts you have made that fruit quality is very important to you. I don't think you would be thrilled with the berry quality of Spring Wide--unless you just want an average grocery store level fruit. That being said, it might be worth having for added polination. I have never grown the other two. Spring High had a higher chill requirement and Sweetcrisp had not been developed yet as I recall. However, a guy who still has a U-pick can't keep the Sweetcrisp on the bushes. They are the first ones sold each year.

fruitnut1944

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Re: Recommended blueberry bushes for Central Florida
« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2023, 11:18:07 AM »
Sweetcrisp has amazingly crisp berries. And I've grown them at up to 26 brix. It's downside is lower yield and average flavor. But it is a huge advancement in eating experience IMO. If you like blueberries, you should experience Sweetcrisp at least once. I am surprised it's not more available.

Springhigh has a large soft berry but great flavor. I just wish we could combine the best of these two.

Springwide I haven't grown but had heard that it's good.

There are many new varieties but they all seem to be very hard to find ever since covid. Everybody is out of stock.

AndrewAZ

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Re: Recommended blueberry bushes for Central Florida
« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2023, 12:55:54 AM »
There are native blue berries to FL that you might want to try.
If you get a named variety, I would put it in a large pot with acidic soil or else it will decline over 3-4 years then croak.  They make a very nice outdoor potted plant.  I mean, front porch nice.  And, I am growing them in Phoenix and we had like 60 days over 110 and they did better than some of my cacti, lol.

mcoambassador

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Re: Recommended blueberry bushes for Central Florida
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2023, 10:31:20 PM »
The favorite tasting one Iíve tried is Kestrel. Nickís edibles has them in stock so I was considering getting a couple. Itís far tastier than Emerald. Fun read up on all the FL varieties can be found at the following link. I noticed out of dozens of varieties, Kestrel indeed came out just about on top in tasting quality (but was finally beat by a variety I hadnít heard of called Indigocrisp, which makes me want to obtain some of those to compare).

https://www.blueberrybreeding.com/varieties

Note that some bushes will require pollination, assumably by varieties that ripen concurrently, so plan for at least one bush of another variety in the mix.

bovine421

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Re: Recommended blueberry bushes for Central Florida
« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2023, 07:31:40 AM »
There are native blue berries to FL that you might want to try.
If you get a named variety, I would put it in a large pot with acidic soil or else it will decline over 3-4 years then croak.  They make a very nice outdoor potted plant.  I mean, front porch nice.  And, I am growing them in Phoenix and we had like 60 days over 110 and they did better than some of my cacti, lol.
Yes I was definitely considering growing them in containers. I only need a couple for me and my wife. So my next question would be what is there vigor growth rate. I can find a selection of three gallon blueberries bushes but if they grow extremely slow. Would I be better off taking my time and finding a 15 gallon size? The only reference I have is mangoes which if you get a dwarf variety you want to get the biggest one you can find but if it is very vigoruos like Valencia Pride then getting anything other than 3 gallon is kind of silly🙂
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fruitnut1944

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Re: Recommended blueberry bushes for Central Florida
« Reply #10 on: September 23, 2023, 07:52:39 AM »
Southern highbush can grow very rapidly if pushed with rainwater and ammonium sulfate. I've taken tiny plants to fruiting bushes in one year. But it's 2-3 years to get substantial production. A 2ft tall 1-2 gallon would make a 4x4ft bush in two years if properly grown in a 20-25 gal pot.

Galatians522

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Re: Recommended blueberry bushes for Central Florida
« Reply #11 on: September 23, 2023, 02:08:59 PM »
I agree, there is no need to buy a large bush. My advice is to buy a small bush and spend the extra on bird netting. You might get away with it for a few years if you only have a few bushes, but once they find you, they will strip the bushes.

 

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