These handsome shrubs sport dainty, white flowers in early spring, followed by leaves that turn orange and scarlet in fall. The berries ripen over several weeks, generally beginning in June. Pick only fully colored berries; leave pink ones until they turn blue.
Blueberries need plenty of sun and moist, well-drained soil. The soil must be quite acid (pH 4.5-5.5) and contain lots of organic matter. If you live in the Upper and Middle South, try selections of highbush blueberries ( Vaccinium corymbosum) such as 'Bluejay' and 'Bluecrop.' If you live in the Lower and Coastal South, plant selections of heat-tolerant rabbiteye blueberries ( V. ashei), such as 'Beckyblue' and 'Delite.'
Blackberries and Raspberries
Plant these sprawling shrubs in a sunny spot like you would a hedge, spacing plants 2 to 3 feet apart. A single row 30 to 40 feet long should supply more than enough berries for the average family.
If you don't want to bother with tying rambling blackberry canes to a trellis, choose self-supporting, upright selections, such as 'Arapaho' and 'Navaho.' These two selections are also thornless.
You can grow all types of raspberries in the Upper and Middle South. Elsewhere, plant heat-tolerant selections. 'Heritage' and 'Autumn Bliss' do fine in the Lower South. In the Coastal South, try 'Dorman Red' or 'Redwing.' In the Tropical South, plant Mysore raspberry. Give all types full sun and fertile, well-drained soil.
"Five Easy Fruits to Grow in Your Backyard" is from the June 2005 issue of Southern Living.