Content Detail

Highbush blueberry is an acid-loving, medium-sized shrub for extremely wet sites. Clusters of white urn-shaped spring flowers, edible blue fruit, and reddish fall color add year-round appeal.

This species is native to the Chicago region according to Swink and Wilhelm’s Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research.

  • Family (English) Heath
  • Family (botanic) Ericaeae
  • Tree or plant type Shrub
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Chicago area, Illinois, North America
  • Size range Large shrub (more than 8 feet)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7
  • Soil preference Acid soil, Wet soil
  • Tolerances Occasional flooding, Road salt, Wet sites
  • Season of interest early summer, midsummer, late summer, early fall
  • Flower color and fragrance White
  • Shape or form Multi-stemmed, Round, Upright
  • Growth rate Slow

Native geographic location and habitat: 

This shrub is native from Maine to Minnesota and upper North America, including Illinois. C-Value: 8.

Attracts birds, pollinators, or wildlife: 

Birds and other wildlife are attracted to the fruit. They can be a nuisance.

Bark color and texture: 

The stems are thin and yellow-green to reddish in winter. The young stems are hairy.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture: 

The leaves are alternate, simple to elliptical, and 1 to 3 inches long on short petioles. Leaf sizes can be variable even on the same plant. The leaves are dark green above, paler beneath, with a brilliant red fall color.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size: 

Short, terminal clusters of white, urn-shaped flowers appear in late April to mid-May.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions: 

Green berries mature to a dark purple, covered with a whitish bloom. The fruit is edible and ripens in July.

Plant care: 

Highbush blueberries can reach 6 to15 feet high. Some plants are self-fertile, but planting two plants ensures a better fruit set. It may take four to eight years to produce fruit. It does best in a sunny, acidic (pH 4.5-5.5), well-drained, moist soil with lots of organic matter. It will not produce fruit in soil that is too alkaline. Keep the soil evenly moist. Do not let it dry out. Mulch to conserve moisture and moderate soil temperatures. Prune plants when they reach five feet tall, then annually remove old wood and thin crowded branches.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances: 

Chlorosis in high pH soils, stem cankers, virus, and plum curculio can be problematic on this shrub.


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