What Kind of Blueberries Grow Best in Partial Shade?

Answer

A home garden or edible landscape is enhanced visually and gastronomically by the inclusion of blueberry bushes, which belong to the genus Vaccinium. According to the University of Illinois Extension, these neat, erect shrubs thrive in plant hardiness zones 3 through 8 of the United States Department of Agriculture and may be seen growing well throughout the majority of the United States. When preparing the soil for blueberries, it is necessary to ensure that there is an adequate amount of acidity, that there is sufficient irrigation, and that the planting location is both rich and well-drained. They are prolific even when they are planted in areas that are shaded by trees or buildings, which is a fortunate trait given that their sun exposure needs are not as stringent as those of other plant species.

Tip

The rabbiteye and southern highbush cultivars of blueberries are regarded as being the most shade resistant of all blueberry varieties. However, all blueberries are able to withstand some level of shade.

Forest Blueberry Species

The southern United States is home to a variety of blueberry species that are found growing wild in the shadow of wooded areas. These blueberry species are often sold by nurseries that specialise in native plants and provide mail order services. These include Darrow’s blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum, hardy in USDA zones 5 through 8) and the southern highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) (Vaccinium darrowii, USDA zones 8a through 11).

Both of these species produce very high-quality fruit, which is why they have been so valuable in the breeding of commercial blueberry variants. Blueberry varieties that are indigenous to the northern regions of the world have a propensity to be less tolerant of shade and are more likely to develop as expansive open thickets in full light.

Improved Blueberry Varieties

There are three primary categories that may be used to classify improved blueberry varieties: rabbiteye, southern highbush, and northern highbush. Because the first two varieties were derived mostly from natural southern blueberries, they have a higher tolerance for shade than those that were solely bred from northern sorts of blueberries.

Some of the most well-known cultivars of rabbiteye are known as ‘Powderblue,’ ‘Premier,’ and ‘Tifblue.’ ‘O’Neal,’ ‘Sunshine Blue,’ and ‘Georgia Gem’ are considered to be three of the finest types of southern highbush. The varieties of northern highbush that are less tolerant of shadow are ‘Patriot,’ ‘Bluecrop,’ and ‘Meader,’ yet it is nevertheless worthwhile to cultivate them in partial sun.

Effects of Shade

Although it is true that all blueberries can survive some level of shade, the general rule is that fruit output will decrease as the level of shadow rises. However, in order for plants to produce enough fruit to make the effort of growing them at home worthwhile, they need to get direct sunlight for at least four hours each day.

Blueberries thrive in environments that are warm and dry, but they do need some afternoon shade in order to maintain their optimal level of health and production. When blueberries are grown in areas with a lot of shadow, their stems become long and lanky, and they lose the compact, leafy appearance that makes them so appealing as landscape plants.

The Evergreen Huckleberry

The evergreen huckleberry is a species that is related to the wild blueberry (Vaccinium ovatum). According to the Washington State University Clark County Extension, this plant may thrive in USDA zones 7 through 9. It is quite similar to the wild blueberries that are found in the Southeast, with the exception that its fruit is more miniature and that it does not shed its leaves in the autumn.

Evergreen huckleberries, which may reach heights of ten feet and thrive alongside massive conifers in the coastal mountains of the Pacific Northwest, need some protection from the sun in order to survive. At spite of the fact that Vaccinium ovatum has never been cultivated as a food crop, its berries are tasty and the plants may be found in native plant nurseries around the country.