Q:Do I need two or more blueberry trees to produce healthy fruit? In the magazine this month it said to plant a blueberry plant in a container beside your back door. Do have to plant more than one? Thank you, Katie Skelton
A:At last! An easy question! The Grump likes easy questions!
Whether or not you need at least two blueberry bushes to get fruit depends on the type of blueberry bushes you have. The two main types of blueberries are highbush blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum) and rabbiteye blueberries (V. ashei).
Highbush is the best type for people living in areas with cold winters (USDA Zone 6 and colder — for Southern Living readers, only the Upper South and cooler parts of the Middle South.) Single bushes will produce fruit. However, you’ll get more fruit if you plant two different highbush selections for cross-pollination. Good selections include ‘Bluecrop’ (midseason), ‘Bluejay’ (early midseason), ”Darrow’ (late), and ‘Herbert’ (late)
Rabbiteye is better adapted to the South’s warmer areas (USDA Zone 7 and warmer — for SL readers, the Lower and Coastal South and milder parts of the Middle South.) To get fruit with rabbiteyes, you definitely need to plant at least two different selections. Recommended selections include ‘Brightwell’ (midseason), ‘Climax’ (early), ‘Delite’ (midseason to late), and ‘Tiflblue’ (midseason to late).
Plant two or more different types has another advantage. You can space out the ripening over a long period, extending the harvest — provided, of course, that swarms of lousy, screeching, freeloading birds don’t beat you to the fruit before you have the chance to sample a single berry.
As you can tell, Katie, I have bird issues.