The primary requirement of blueberry plants is a soil full of good organic material, acidic soil that is well draining and with plenty of water available. All blueberry plants require good watering conditions but some are more drought tolerant than other varieties. Also some are more tolerant of heavy soils than other varieties. This article provides a listing of those varieties reported to be more tolerant of drought conditions and/or heavy soils than other varieties.
A soil pH between 4.5 and 5.0 is ideal for blueberry plants (pH 7.0 is neutral).
Almost all the plants in the following list have growing ranges that make them suitable for growing in south central Kentucky which is in growing zone 6. South central Kentucky also has heavy clay soil making the plants that grow best in this type soil a good choice.
Rabbiteye cultivars as a group, are easier to grow than southern highbush. They are more drought tolerant than southern highbush blueberries and less susceptible to Phytophthora root rot. They also can grow satisfactorily in soils which are lower in organic matter. Rabbit eye blueberries have a stronger root system than highbush blueberries and are more droughts tolerant. Rabbiteye blueberries are more vigorous, longer lived, and easier to care for than most southern highbush varieties. They are not self pollinating and require other varieties for cross-pollination. The recommended growing areas are zones 7 to 9. Thus growing rabbiteyes in south central Kentucky may be somewhat of a risk because of colder weather early in the spring. Tifblue is more cold-hardy than most rabbiteye blueberries varieties.
Southern blueberry varieties
Darrow is an evergreen blueberry with somewhat greater drought tolerance and develops superior fruit quality under Southern growing conditions. The recommended growing areas are zones 6 to 7
Jubilee is a mid-season ripening variety.it is a tough and consistent producer of very high quality fruit.It has distinguished itself by performing well in heavy soils through very hot summers and sudden winter cold. They are grown successfully in zones 5 to 9
Legacy produces berries that are medium-large and light blue with a robust flavor. Pickers refer to it as the “Gold Bush” due to its heavy production. The cultivar seems to adapt to most soils and cold to moderate climates. They are grown successfully in zones 5 to 9.
Misty is a heat-tolerant and drought tolerant variety for southern gardens. They are grown successfully in zones 5 to 10.
Ozarkblue is not bothered by heat, does not need as much irrigation, resists spring frost. It is highly productive of the highest quality berries. They are grown successfully in zones 5 to 9.
Sharpblue is a mid-season bush that is exceptionally vigorous, and slightly spreading. Its fruit is very large with medium scar and excellent flavor. Sharpblue has the lower chill requirement than most varieties and grows well in areas where it is managed as an evergreen blueberry with practically no chilling. It is the most adaptable of all the low chill types, performing well from the heavy soils. The recommended growing areas are zones 7 to 10.
Sunshine Bluetolerates higher pH soils better than all other southern highbush and rabbiteye types of.blueberries. It is self-pollinating. They are grown successfully in zones 5 to 10.
Northern blueberry varieties
Bluecrop is an early to mid-season ripening variety. It is very hardy and drought resistant. Its fruit is great, either as fresh or processed. Bluecrop is the industry standard of excellence. It is easy to care for in the garden and holds title as one of the most frost-tolerant highbush blueberry cultivars. They are grown successfully in zones 4 to 7.
Bluerays are drought-resistant plants. It is an old favorite and versatile variety, Blueray performs particularly well in areas with hot summers or very cold winters. They are grown successfully in zones 3 to 7.
Hardyblue is an old-established variety in the Northwest that is known for its exceptionally sweet berries. Hardyblue has a reputation for being adaptable to many soil types, including heavier clay soils. They are grown successfully in zones 4 to 8.
Jerseygrows well in most types of soil; it is one of the oldest and most widely grown blueberry varieties producing consistently high yields of very sweet fruit. They are grown successfully in zones 4 to 7.
Northcountry is vigorous and adaptable in less than optimum soil types. It is a classic wild variety growing 1.5 to 2 ft tall. They are grown successfully in zones 3 to 7.
Patriot plants are easy to establish, tolerating less than ideal conditions such as wet or heavy soils. They are grown successfully in zones 3 to 7.
Reka was developed in New Zealand. It is one of the fastest growing and most adaptable varieties. It is a very vigorous variety; it grows well in light sandy soils, peat and heavier clay loams and is more tolerant to wetter ground than many other varieties. It adapts well to a wide range of northern climates and soil types. They are grown successfully in zones 4 to 7.