Blueberry lovers know that there is more than one type of blueberry shrub — and most know there is the highbush, the lowbush, and the rabbiteye blueberry. The Aurora blueberry (named after aurora borealis for their northern-reaching range) is found in the highbush variety and grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 8.
These blueberry bushes yield delicious fruit in late summer and have delicate blooms in the spring. Let’s learn more about the Aurora blueberry.
History of the Aurora Blueberry
Aurora blueberries were developed in New Jersey and introduced to the market in 1956. They were developed by crossing a wild, northern blueberry with the southern highbush blueberry, so these blueberries have much in common with their parents. The Latin name of this family is Vaccinium corymbosum.
The Aurora blueberry grows wild across northern North America, from Quebec and Newfoundland to Alaska. Thickets of Aurora blueberry bushes form a natural hedge along riverbanks and seashores because Aurora blueberries are salt-tolerant plants.
Aurora Blueberry Characteristics
Chilling Level: Matures when exposed to 800 hours of temperatures below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. These blueberries will survive temperatures as low as -26 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pollination: Self-pollinating; Aurora blueberries do not require cross-pollination but will produce better fruit yields if planted with other Aurora blueberries.
Mature Size: Mature Aurora blueberry bushes are 5 to 6 feet tall with a spread of 4 to 5 feet.
Soil: Tolerant of a wide range of soils, Aurora blueberries prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH between 4.5 and 6.5. Choose a location for your blueberry bush that has full sun and drains properly. Soil should be moist but not soggy.
Ripening Season: Aurora blueberries are the latest ripening highbush blueberries, coming into harvest in August and September. These berries will be slightly tart if picked before they are fully ripe.
Harvest Season: Aurora blueberry fruit is harvested in late summer or early autumn after the plants have dropped their leaves. This blueberry has three distinct harvests, with the first harvest fruit (typically in mid-August) being more acidic and less sweet than the two later harvests.
Preferred Habitat: The Aurora blueberry grows best in USDA zones 3-7.
Fruit qualities: Aurora blueberries yield large, firm, and sweet fruit with medium to dark blue skin and a distinct beautiful white bloom. The Aurora blueberry’s flavor is similar to the high bush blueberry, but the Aurora blueberry fruit is larger.
Aurora Blueberry Planting Zones
The best planting zones of the Aurora blueberry are zones 4 through 7, where the expected minimum winter temperature range these blueberries need occurs. However, they can be grown in zones 3 and 8 if give the proper care required.
Size and Spacing
Aurora blueberry bushes grow 5 to 6 feet tall and 4 to 5 feet wide, so plant them at least 4 feet apart. When you plant these bushes, be sure the soil has a good amount of organic matter.
These blueberries are self-pollinating, so planting an Aurora blueberry alone is okay. But for increased fruit production (and better pollination), these blueberries should be planted in groups of at least 4 bushes.
Aurora Blueberry Tree Care
These shrubs should have full sunlight, but Aurora blueberries can tolerate some shade. As long as your shrub gets a minimum of 6 hours, it will do well.
Blueberries should have 1 to 2 inches of water a week. If your Aurora blueberry is in a container, be sure it has good drainage.
The soil surrounding the shrub should remain moist but don’t overwater and make it soggy. Contrary to popular belief, overwatering a plant is as bad as under-watering. During the ripening period, these plants may need up to 4 inches of water per week.
Aurora blueberries should be pruned after fruiting. A little extra pruning is needed because the Auroras blueberry produces fruit from the previous year’s growth. Learn more about pruning blueberries here.
Diseases & Care
While these blueberries have a high chill tolerance, they are still susceptible to disease. Like any blueberry, Aurora blueberry shrubs can get blight, root rot, or anthracnose. For more information, click this link to read our blog article about the most common diseases that affect blueberries.
It’s not just people who love blueberries and, chances are, you’ll end up dealing with a pest or two. For information about how to identify, eliminate, and deter pests, read our blog post on the 9 common pests you’ll encounter with blueberries.
Common Uses For the Aurora Blueberry
The Auora blueberry’s fruit is more resistant to shriveling and cracking than other late-ripening blueberries. For this reason, they can stay on the shrub longer, which produces a better flavor. This fruit tastes better after a frost, making Aurora blueberries wonderful for desserts.
Aurora blueberries have more of a tart flavor than the high bush blueberry. As a result, they make great additions to salads and sauces where that tartness will stand out. Aurora blueberries also make good pies and jams.
Eating fresh Aurora blueberries is not the only way to enjoy them. Aurora blueberry fruit has found its way into pancake and muffin mixes, as the fruit’s tart flavor pairs well with sweeter flavors.
After harvesting, you may want to do some canning with your Aurora blueberries so that you can enjoy them during the winter months. The fruit can be canned in syrups or made into jellies or jams. The blueberries make a lovely fruit spread that is a beautiful magenta color, and blueberries can even be used as a flavor in wine or beer making. You can also dry the fruit to eat as snacks or add them to granola.
Health Benefits of the Aurora Blueberry
Aurora blueberries contain a high number of anthocyanins, which give them their distinct color and antioxidant properties.
Blueberries may help prevent or ease the following health conditions:
- Cognitive disabilities and dementia
- Stroke recovery
- High blood pressure
- Weight management
- Colon cancer
Aurora blueberries are also high in fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin K.
For more information, check out our blog article on the health benefits of blueberries.
Where To Buy Aurora Blueberry Shrubs
You can purchase Aurora blueberry shrubs through several online retailers.
Where To Buy Aurora Blueberries
You can find Aurora blueberries from select growers or at pick-your-own farms. If you live in the Pacific Northwest or parts of New England, you may find them at farmers’ markets. If you can’t find them locally, Aurora blueberries can be found online from several growers.
And, of course, if you grow them, you can pick your own Aurora blueberries!
Fruit Facts / FAQs about
How Long Do Aurora Blueberries Last?
How long they stay fresh depends on the time of year and storage conditions. Blueberries will last about a week when refrigerated, but check them often and remove any that start to show signs of mold.
How Do You Store Aurora Blueberries?
Aurora blueberries, like most fruit, should be kept in the refrigerator until they are ready to be eaten or used in a recipe. If they can’t be refrigerated, then it’s best to store auroras at room temperature with good air circulation and not touching each other.
You should only keep blueberries at room temperature for about a day since they are highly perishable.
Does Aurora Blueberry Expire?
Aurora blueberries in their natural form do not have a sell-by or best by date. However, in processed form, aurora blueberries may have a different expiration date with the use of preservatives. Check the packaging of your blueberry food product to see what the recommended “best by” date is.
Can Auroras Be Frozen?
Yes! Blueberries freeze well. You may want to wash your blueberries before putting them in the freezer, but you can freeze blueberries whole and use them in your baking and cooking after thawing them.
Wrapping Up The Aurora Blueberry
The Aurora blueberry is a relatively tart, less sweet berry, which makes it a great addition to breakfast foods and pies. It’s a medium-sized bush that can get blight or root rot and needs regular watering. Harvesting Aurora blueberries typically happens in late summer/early fall. It has a high chill factor, making it ideal for late harvests and the flavor is at its best following the first frost of the season.
If you’ve got a tip to share about growing the Aurora blueberry, share it in the comments below! And for even more information about blueberries, visit this link to read our other blueberry-related blog articles.