Blueberry - Home Bell (Rabbit Eye)
Best Planted in USDA Hardiness Zone: 6-9.
Plant Quick Guide
Full (6-8 hours)
5-6 ft for hedge; 8-10 ft individual
Year to Bear:
Home Bell Rabbiteye Blueberries are a perfect choice if you are looking for an easy care, resilient blueberry plant. They suffer from very few pest problems and are heat and drought tolerant. The berries ripen in May-June to a dark blue or black color with a 5mm diameter. The berries can be used for eating or as a decorative addition to your yard or garden. Home Bell Blueberries require 550-650 chill hours and reach a mature height of 3 to 6 feet. Tifblue and Powder Blue blueberries are good cross-pollinators. USDA ZONES: Zone 6, Zone 7, Zone 8, Zone 9.
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Blueberries prefer well-drained sandy loam, acidic soil (pH 4.5-5.5). Blueberries will grow more vigorously and produce more fruit in full sun. In the area you plan to put blueberries, it is advisable to till in some form of acidic organic matter like ground rotted pine bark or oak leaves. Dig a planting hole approximately three times the width of the pot and at the same depth as the root ball. Enrich the planting hole with peat moss mixed with soil dug from the hole (50/50 mix). Do NOT use mushroom compost or manure in the planting hole or as mulch. You can make your plants sick and even kill them with manure or mushroom compost. Remove the blueberry bush from the pot, gently loosen the root ball and place in the planting hole. To avoid burying too deep, make sure the plant is positioned with the top most roots at the soil line. Fill the planting hole with the mix of soil and peat moss; gently tamp it in. Water thoroughly to settle the roots and eliminate air pockets. Do NOT put fertilize in the planting hole. Only apply fertilizer if it is the correct time of year. If desired, construct a water basin around the base of the bush approximately 36 inches in diameter. Blueberries are very shallowly rooted, like azaleas. Spacing for blueberries depends upon the desired use in the landscape. Bushes can be planted individually or in a hedgerow. If planting a hedgerow, space 5-6 feet apart with rows 10-12 feet apart. If planting bushes individually, place plants for cross pollination no more than 10 feet apart. Remove all flowers the first year to encourage more growth. The first year is a critical time for the establishment of a new blueberry bush. Water thoroughly twice a week on light soils and once a week on clay soils. Soak the entire root system deeply – this usually takes 45-60 minutes. Established bushes should receive at least 1 inch of water each week.
Water regularly, especially during dry periods. Keep an area approximately 4 feet in diameter around the bush clear of grass and weeds to minimize competition for water and nutrients. Mulch in spring and fall with approximately 4-6 inches of acid mulch (pine bark, oak leaves). Pull mulch a couple of inches away from the trunk for good air circulation. Do NOT mulch with mushroom compost. Routine pruning of blueberries is unnecessary until plants are 3 years old. During this time, remove dead, damaged or diseased limbs. Cut any leggy growth so the plant will bush up. Make all cuts flush with the limb or the next largest branch. Do not leave stubs. For established rabbiteye blueberries, approximately one quarter of the oldest canes are pruned each year to encourage cane renewal. Three to four year-old canes have maximum fruit production, declining with age. Blueberries can be lightly topped right after fruit harvest to hold down the height of the plant. All heavy thinning cuts should be made in the dormant season.