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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Tuesday - August 25, 2009

From: Arlington, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Edible Plants, Shrubs
Title: Blueberries in Arlington TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Which wild or native blueberries can I grow in Arlington Texas? I think it is zone 8?

ANSWER:

There are two members of the Vaccinium genus native to Texas: Vaccinium corymbosum (highbush blueberry) and Vaccinium fuscatum (black highbush blueberry). Neither is native anywhere close to Tarrant County. They like acidic soils, like the forest floors of East Texas (where they are native) with constantly falling leaves and pine needles, adding to the acidity of the soil. This member of the Mr. Smarty Plants Team gardened in Arlington for 38 years and, trust me, the soil there is alkaline. Some of it is clay and in other parts of town there is sand, but none of it is going to be hospitable to blueberries. And you are correct, Arlington is in USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 8. 

However, if you are determined and willing to spend the effort, all is not lost. We found an article from Paghat's Garden, Vaccinium corymbosum, that makes it sound doable. The author of that article touts the health benefits of blueberries, which apparently are numerous, but he doesn't say how to keep the birds from getting to them first. If you purchase nursery stock, make sure it is one of the species that can live in Texas; sometimes the large chain nurseries just figure a blueberry is a blueberry, and you might get one that would be happier in Vermont. 

From our webpage on Vaccinium corymbosum (highbush blueberry), it grows 6 to 12 ft. tall and wide, is deciduous, and blooms white or pink in May and June. 

"Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Wet , Moist , Dry
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Wet to dry, acid, rocky soils to organic peats.
Conditions Comments: Extremely susceptible to chlorosis due to alkalinity. Benefits from mulch. Prune after fruiting."

 

From the Image Gallery


Highbush blueberry
Vaccinium corymbosum

Highbush blueberry
Vaccinium corymbosum

Black highbush blueberry
Vaccinium fuscatum

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