Best Blueberry Varieties - Tennessee Zone 7a

Monrovia patented the “Sunshine Blue” variety…so it was developed as an evergreen, low chill, easy to grow blueberry for the public that would buy it at a garden center. Pink blooms, blueish foliage, leaves turning bright orang-red and hanging on a couple months here but all winter in California and Florida. Chill hours only 150, but originally recommended for zones 7-10.
Sorry, I do not know it’s parents. (I guess could find by looking up the patent).

So, based on Monrovia info for use in landscapes, I picked Sunshine Blue and BlueGold to plant along the walk to the front door of a nice home in an exclusive gated community. I got paid … it wasn’t for myself.

Anyhow, the trial in zone 6 worked out, and now they’ve moved the data to say it’s even good for zone 5. The blooms and leaves are tolerant into mid 20’s while in bloom…but last year, when the berries were big as bbs or buckshot and it got to 22 degrees…there was quit a bit of damage to the fruit.

Fruit ripens midseason, smaller than many (but larger than the lowbush of Maine or N. Michigan). Total harvest is near 'average" and the fruits ripen over 15 to 20 day period.
Fine for the home gardener.

Clay/limestone soil and pH of 6.5 with a bit of azalea fertilizer scattered on the surface, mulched either with gravels or cypress. Soil not amended. Water here is typically 6.5 pH. Rainfall maybe a little lower than that. Little or no watering (we average 45 inches annually).

So, I sort of lucked into a good blueberry, as looks was one of the top considerations when I first tried this berry about 9 years ago. It is definitely hardy in zone 6, despite the low chill requirements. It is also self fertile, although development of the small seeds probably enhances size with fertilization/pollination.

The plant gets around 3 feet tall, maybe 42 inches. Can produce some suckering.
Taste of berries is “average”…after you’ve tasted berries from 8 or 10 varieties they about taste the same.

Anyone growing Ochlockonee rabbiteye who can report on it?


So, my blueberries are loaded…yours doing OK?

@BlueBerry - Yes… mine are looking good this year.

Better than last year… I took the pic below about a week ago.

My rabbiteye’s are still pretty young. I started 2 in 2018, and that pic is one of those. Then started 8 more last year.

Now if I can just keep the birds from getting more than I do.

Last year I bought some really nice bird netting and covered them, but noticed some fruit was still leaving… I figure that field mice might still be getting them ? Then I bagged some of the berry clusters and that worked pretty good.

I don’t have any trouble with birds and my ilinni blackberries, but they are very thorny.
Had no problems with raspberries either last fall… again thorny.




I’m getting some ripe EarliBlue blueberries, sometime I bought a Duke, but it must not have any fruit this year.

I don’t think any rabbiteye varieties ripen for awhile yet.

I have a couple of Dukes. But I do not like it in particular. It is not that early as I expected. And berries are small compared to other varieties.


The Sunshine Blue are small but still producing…

Got the first blue colored “Aurora” blueberry…either it’s not quite ripe or they’re just pretty sour in general. (Never before harvested a Aurora in July…has been September some years.)
HardyBlue is gone now. Powder Blue and Tifblue are pretty tasty.

Many of my blueberry bushes didn’t fruit this year, perhaps that late freeze? Two Climax and one Titan are going to though. Well I assume they will, eventually… The Climax variety at least, have a hundred or so berries/fruits and they’re as green as they were probably 2 months ago. I was picking and eating them in June last year… Hmm…

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I have 2 early blueberry bushes, my oldest ones… best I remember they are Climax.
This year they produced ripe fruit from 5/30 for about a month, ending around 6/30.
They are a large tasty berry. Of my 4 varieties I would rate them #1 on taste.

My other 3 varieties are (rabbiteye also), Brightwell, TiffBlue, Powder blue.

They all started ripening fruit end of June…

Very few Brightwell left at this point (July 21).
A few more Tiffblue remain… may get those another week or two.
The Powder blue - quite a few more of those left, looks like will be my last to finish ripening fruit.

Taste wise… I would say…

#1 Climax
#2 Powderblue, Tiffblue (tie).
#3 Brightwell

Note my powder blue and brightwell are younger bushes so flavor may get better as they mature.
None are bad at all, just some a little better than others.

Also… not absolutely sure my Climax is a Climax… I did not decide to start tracking those details in my excel sheet, until 3 years after I had planted those… I could sure be wrong on that.

I do think that Climax is supposed to be a early berry, so not sure why mine would be early and yours would be so late this year.


Many of my other varieties haven’t fruited yet. It’s just odd that these (two) Climax bushes fruited mid-June last year and here it is mid/late July and they’re still green as can be. Just seems odd…

I don’t have Climax. Premier is still green.

Things appear to be ripening earlier than usual around here.

I long ago lost IDs on almost all my blueberries; all I know is that they’re all rabbiteye or Southern highbush types. I know I’ve purchased Climax, Delight, Premier, Tifblue, Woodard, Brightwell, Ozarkblue, Summit, and others that I’ve long since forgotten. Also have a half-dozen unidentified rabbiteyes that my dad rooted from his best bushes and brought to me 25 years ago.
We’ve been picking for nearly a month… anywhere from 2-6 gallons almost every day/every other day.
FL 96-1 was the first to bear… a week or more ahead of everything else, and it ripens its crop almost all at once - one picking will get 75% or more of its crop. Pink Lemonade and the rabbiteyes from my dad are finished. Others (there are more than a half-dozen varieties, some with two or more bushes of each type) that are in various stages of ripening… but I figure there are still at least a couple of weeks’ worth of berry picking ahead.
Ordered another 6 or 8 blueberries this spring, to add to the mix… meant to get Onslow, but time got away and I ended up not placing an order w/ Dan Finch in time. A friend also sent root suckers of a really late variety to trial, as well.

Anybody got any experience with ‘SweetHeart’ blueberry? Supposedly a ‘reblooming’ type, bearing a second, late crop of berries. I got two - one to plant here at home and one at the lake house, but wonder if the ‘second crop’ is a real deal.

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I got an Onslow, but it’s about the sorryiest ‘liner’ I ever received…certainly for a blueberry. From Indiana Berry. So, if it lives (it is still alive but hasn’t grown an inch this summer) maybe in a decade I’ll know something about it.
Should have consulted Finch and gotten a plant I guess.

A variety called “Perpetua” has berries all summer…but small. Just a cute dwarf bush for the ‘landscape’. Haven’t tried ‘SweetHeart’.

I picked up Rebel and Emerald. Not too optomistic these are going to do that great here in KY…but they being healthy plants and on closeout from Lowe’s, it’s time to try a couple more blues.

Premier, Tiftblue, Powder Blue, and maybe Brightwell are proven standard Rabbiteye for z. 7.

@BlueBerry … planning to do 3-4x more blueberries at my new location. Would love to be able to harvest and freeze gallons of blue berries.

I have been pleased with my 4 rabbiteye types so far… Tiffblue Climax Powderblue Brightwell.

Planning to add some Yadkin another rabbiteye that many here give good reports on…

and may try a SHB — Oneal… Auburn has had very good results with Oneal grafted to tiffblue. It is early and he said his best early berry. I have a note on it… large tasty and heat tolerant fruit.

Question… where do I go to get the best larger blueberry plants ?

At my current location… i have planted both larger plants and smaller ones too… my larger plants took off really well… started producing lots of berries first year… and increased production nicely over the years.

My smaller starts… have not done that well.

I dont mind paying extra for some nice large blueberry starts.


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I have been weeding through blueberry varieties for almost 20 years now in 7b, culling out plants every few years based primarily on flavor. I only ever have 4-6 bushes at a time. I’m not an expert by any means but I’ve ended up with 3 varieties that I have no desire to move on from. Right now I have one O’Neal, one Blueray, and two Sweetcrisp bushes. All produce a lot of super delicious berries. Everyone who tastes them comments on how much better they are than anything you can get from the grocer. If I could only keep one it would be the O’Neal.


I agree about Blueray. Not enough and/or no experience your other two.
Blueray does great in 6b, so good to hear it also does well in other areas too.

I think you’ll do best getting a 3 year old bare root plant.
(Or a 2 year one 15" or larger).

Burnt Ridge Nursery has been good for me…especially for N. Highbush.
I also suggest you check Finch Blueberry Nursery in NC…they have a large variety selection and also cater to a warmer climate. (And have many Rabbiteye cultivars.)

I wonder about growing a NHB like Blueray in southern TN.

I do have notes on it… including heat tollerant… productive vigorous large high quality berry… long shown adaptation in Arkansas.

Question… will my Rabbiteyes pollinate with SHB. NHB varieties… or would I need others for pollination.

To your ‘question’…there isn’t one answer that covers all varieties.

Most highbush are self fertile (but crop size is boosted slightly by crosspollination) and most rabbiteye require a cross pollinator that also blooms at the same time (not all cultivars bloom at same time).
And a few are self fertile.

If you have lots of varieties you are experimenting with, pollination issues probably are covered. If you plan a large planting of one or two varieties, better not take pollination for granted, but study on it.