LOL! I was so feeling tempted to go buy some Pink Lemonade Blueberries today, but I put my foot down, and said: “No! I am not spending more money on blueberries!” But I do have some holes in my huckleberry patch where previous transplants from the wild failed and from where I pulled out southern highbush blueberries. So today I went on my typical outing to the Winlo Pine Plantation, this time not to fish but to dig up wild blueberries and huckleberries. Given how warm it is and that the huckleberries are pretty much leafed out, I might be too late in the season doing this, but we shall know in about two weeks I guess.
Anyway, I came back with four huckleberry bushes and three rabbit eye blueberries from a wildish mystery stand on the plantation. As far as anyone knows, there are no truly wild populations of rabbit eye blueberries in existence anywhere. All of them are all ones that were at one point planted by birds from domestic bushes or they are remnants of forgotten planting. I suspect that this population originally of five big bushes (now 4) is the latter situation. A few hundred feet away are bricks left over from sharecropper houses dating back to the post Civil War era. According to my late mom they were dilapidated to the point of being dangerous when my grandfather bought the property in 1945, so he had them torn down. I’m guessing that the people who lived in those houses had blueberry bushes. There is at least two distinct different kinds (varieties?). I have no idea if they are named varieties known to horticulture or not. They are either seedlings or they originated from those tenant houses which predate even the old varieties common now such as Tiff Blue and Powder Blue. I actually have five blueberries from this old population in my yard, and they actually do better than any of the newer commercial varieties. They are hardier, healthier, bigger plants that produce bigger berries, but the berries are nowhere near as sweet as the newer varieties. They are much more on the sour side of things. But one of the strains, one I call Ginny after my mom, has a pretty lavender cast over it, and the berries are lavender from the time they first form until they ripen. It’s the prettiest blueberry plant I have ever seen, and it stands out from everything else, both in the woods and in my yard.
The huckleberries are young seedlings that I dug up from a vicinity of the property where the berries were especially big and sweet back when I was a kid. The area is too shady for bushes to produce much because the pine trees at the stage that they are in are creating too much shade. Still, I’m hoping these young plants have good genes. I chose seedlings rather than suckers from established plants because its easier to get most of the root system. I was going for young plants with a very erect and narrow growth habit because it seems to consistently be the case all over the property that the young plants with a very erect profile produce much bigger berries when they mature. The ones that are more spreading or weeping when young seem to consistently produce smaller berries when mature. I’m running with this theory until these plants mature and prove me wrong. LOL!
I have found that huckleberries are easiest to transplant if the plant is about 3 ft tall and you cut it back to about four to six inches when you plant it. I cut out barky stems all together and cut the green new canes for to six inches long depending on how much root I think I got. I have never attempted to transplant huckleberries with them leafed out before. last week the ones I transplanted were not leafed out. One week has made a huge difference. Anyway, this is an experiment. We are about to find out how persnickety huckleberries are about being moved after they have broken dormancy. God bless.