Blueberries are delightful fresh from the garden, but the Native American shrubs only produce if the temperature drops below 45 degrees F. (7 C.) for a sufficient number of days every year. The period of low temperatures is critical to the next season’s fruiting. This can be an issue for zone 8 blueberries. Can blueberries grow in zone 8? Some types can, but not all. For information about growing blueberries in zone 8, read on.
Zone 8 Blueberry Bushes
The types of blueberries grown most extensively in the United States are highbush blueberries and rabbiteye blueberries. Highbush includes both northern highbush and its hybrid, southern highbush. Some of these varieties are more likely than others to thrive as zone 8 blueberries. You’ll want to choose the best types of blueberries for zone 8 as well as the best cultivars when you start growing blueberries in zone 8. The issue is not so much the temperature as the shrub’s chill hour requirement. A chill hour is defined as an hour that the temperature drops below 45 degrees F. (7 C.). Each type of blueberry has its own chill hour requirement. Your climate meets a shrub’s chill hour requirement if temperatures drop below 45 degrees F. (7 C.) for the number of days specified. If you start growing blueberries and temperatures do not stay low long enough, the bushes won’t fruit the following year.
Types of Blueberries for Zone 8
So, what types of blueberries grow in zone 8? Most northern highbush blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum) grow best in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 3 through 7. They generally need 800 to 1,000 chill hours to produce fruit. These are generally not good choices in zone 8. However, some cultivars can be grown as zone 8 blueberry bushes, like "Elliot" (V. corymbosum "Elliot"). It requires less than 300 chill hours. Southern highbush blueberries, on the other hand, require between 150 and 800 chill hours. Most zone 8 regions can provide the required number of chill hours. Just be careful which cultivar you pick. Consider "Misty" (V. corymbosum "Misty"), which requires only 300 chill hours and thrives in zones 5 to 10. Rabbiteye blueberries (Vaccinium ashei) can successfully be grown as zone 8 blueberry bushes. This variety of berry has very low chilling requirements, averaging between 100 to 200 hours. Almost all rabbiteye cultivars have chilling requirements that can be met in this growing zone.
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Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.