Blueberry Gardener's Guide
The purpose of this publication is to provide home gardeners with basic information on growing blueberries in Florida. Commercial growers and those interested in more detailed information on growing blueberries in Florida are encouraged to visit the UF/IFAS Extension publications website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_blueberry.
Florida’s winter season is short and mild with intermittent periods of warm temperatures. Most deciduous fruit cultivars have high chilling requirements and do not grow well in Florida. To produce optimum fruit yield and quality, most deciduous fruit cultivars require more exposure to temperatures below 45ºF during the winter than they are likely to experience in Florida. With insufficient chilling, plants do not flower and leaf out satisfactorily during the spring. Growth can be weak and erratic. However, low-chill cultivars of some deciduous fruits, including blueberry, have been developed by plant breeders at the University of Florida and elsewhere. These cultivars were developed specifically for regions with mild winter temperatures such as in north and central Florida.
Two types of blueberries grow well in Florida, rabbiteye (Vaccinium virgatum) and southern highbush (interspecific hybrids of V. darrowii, V. virgatum, and V. corymbosum). However, only the low-chill cultivars of each are adapted to Florida. Generally, rabbiteye blueberries grow well in areas of Florida that have winters as cold as or colder than winters in Ocala. The southern highbush cultivars that are commonly grown in Florida are well adapted to areas south of Ocala and north of Sebring, although they will grow reasonably well in Alachua County. The southern limits of southern highbush adaptation in Florida have not been fully determined.