Recently, I had the good fortune to pick fresh blueberries at Green Meadows Farm in Monticello, FL. Their adorable U-Pick operation highlights how amazingly well blueberries grow in North Florida and South Georgia. Owners Ronnie and Delores grow a diverse mix of Rabbiteye Blueberries on their farm, a type that is native to our region. Tallahassee Nurseries carries many of the same varieties you’ll pick from at Green Meadows because we know they are the very best for our region. If you can’t make it to the farm, plant a patch of Rabbiteye Blueberries at home and you’ll have a flavorful, fruitful, & fun start to summer every year.
Rabbiteye Blueberries (Vaccinium virgatum) are native to the Southeastern United States. As such they are adapted to deal with the wide range of conditions we experience from year to year. While other fruiting plants may provide a crop just once every 2-5 years, Rabbiteye Blueberries produce fruit almost every single year! Green Meadows Farm has had a strong crop for 15 out of the last 16 years. We can’t think of any other fruit that can provide such reliable production.
Ease of Care
Rabbiteye Blueberries are well adapted to our local soils, thriving in the ubiquitous clay of the Red Hills Region. Mulch, water, and fertilizer are generally the only inputs needed to produce vigorous healthy plants that fight off pests and evade disease all on their own. These benefits are great reasons rabbiteye blueberries are perfect for any gardener looking to get into growing their own fruit!
While it may take a little effort to plant you own blueberry patch, the reward can last for decades. Rabbiteye Blueberries easily live for decades, producing fruit the whole time. Properly managed plants can continually refresh themselves with new branches that arise from the roots, keeping the plants fresh and healthy. At Green Meadows Farm, they’ve just recently replaced some of their oldest bushes after 36 years of fruitful service! That’s an impressive return on investment.
There are many native species of blueberries in our region, and they provide immense value to our local wildlife. Specialized bees rely on blueberry flowers for food & a wide range of generalist pollinators also benefit from the masses of white blooms early in the year. According to information from the National Wildlife Federation, blueberries provide food for 150 different species of caterpillars in our region. That’s an enormous diversity of moths and butterflies! The fruit, of course, is relished by all manner of wild critters as much as it is by us.
Last but not least, the flavor of fresh blueberries is heavenly. The sweet, flavorful fruits can be eaten fresh, cooked into an infinite array of baked goods, made into syrup, tossed on top of your favorite dessert, made into jams…you’ll never run out of ways to use fresh, nutritious, delicious blueberries!
Watch our tour of Green Meadows Farm!
This article was written by Jonathan Burns (Tallahassee Nurseries Outdoor Manager, FNGLA Florida Certified Horticulture Professional)