Vitamin and antioxidant-rich blueberries are the hot fruit among nutritionists right now. While huckleberries are less well known, they’re actually richer in the dark blue pigments that make blueberries such a fabulous nutritional treasure.
Growing blueberries and huckleberries is actually fairly easy if your yard already has the conditions that these shrubs favor. Both blueberries and huckleberries are acid-loving plants. If you have acid soil already, you’re in luck. If your soil tends to be alkaline, you can still grow blueberries if you choose dwarf varieties and grow them in large containers.
CHOOSING THE VARIETIES
When you plant blueberries, you’ll need to plant more than one variety. Blueberries are not self-pollinating, and need a second variety for cross-pollination. To spread the harvest out, choose both early-season and late-season varieties. Duke, Earliblue, Revielle, Patriot, and Sunshine Blue are all good early season varieties. Bluecrop is a good late season variety.
Consider size when you choose your varieties. While most full-sized blueberries reach 4-6 feet tall, some can grow much taller. There are dwarf varieties available, such as Top Hat, for smaller yards and for container growing. Bluetta, while not a dwarf variety, usually stays under 4 feet tall. Choose a size that suits your yard.
If you’re integrating blueberries into the landscape, consider their appearance as well. Bluetta, Top Hat, and Patriot all turn crimson in the fall, and all look striking combined with evergreen huckleberries.
Also consider your climate. Most blueberries need cold winters to go dormant and produce fruit the next year. In southern areas of the U.S., choose varieties adapted to warmer winters, such as Sunshine Blue, Georgia Gem, Gulf Coast, Marimba, or Misty.
While there are many varieties of blueberries, huckleberries are limited to the wild types that have been brought into cultivation, though horticulturalists are working on developing new varieties. Ask at your local garden center for huckleberry plants.
Blueberries and huckleberries prefer full sun. They can tolerate light shade, though they will not produce as well. Their roots need good drainage, so do not plant them in low, wet areas.
PREPARING THE SOIL
Blueberries and huckleberries prefer loose, loamy, acidic soil that is high in organic matter. When preparing an area for planting, dig the soil well and work in a good deal of compost. Decayed bark dust or decayed