The Camellia Blueberry is a tried and true blueberry that is known for its superb flavor. The berries are large with a wonderful, pronounced tropical fruit aroma. It’s a southern highbush blueberry variety that has a high yield and handles heat very well. This blueberry plant will consistently produce delicious berries from mid to late season, averaging 4.5 to 5 lbs of berries per plant each year! Camellia Blueberries are a great option for both homeowners and U-Pick farms.
Read on for more details about this reliable and tasty berry!
History of the Camellia Blueberry
The Camellia Blueberry was developed by D. Scott NeSmith from the University of Georgia. In 2005, the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Science and the University of Georgia Agricultural Experiment Stations partnered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Agricultural Research Service to develop and release this new variety of blueberries.
Characteristics of the Camellia Blueberry
Camellia Blueberry bushes are a southern highbush variety, which means they tolerate heat well and can be grown in the South. They are very vigorous with strong, upright can growth and narrow crowns. While blooming, they have medium green foliage and beautiful white flowers. The berries grow in tight clusters at the end of stems. The berries are a deep sky-blue with a white powdery substance, called “bloom,” covering them when they’re ready to go. The plants average between 5-6 feet tall and spread out 3-4 feet wide.
The Camellia Blueberry plant needs 500 chill hours, which is the cumulative amount of time a plant needs at 45°F or cooler in order to produce the best fruit quality.
These berries will be ripe and ready to harvest and enjoy mid to late season, which means between May and August. You’re going to be able to harvest a lot during this ripening season. After they’ve grown for 3-4 years, you can expect to harvest 4.5-5 lbs per plant!
Blueberry qualities: tart, sweet, firm, etc
Camellia blueberries are known for their tropical aroma and excellent flavor. They’re on the firmer side of berries and a great snack freshly off of the bush.
Camellia blueberries are uniformly large sky-blue berries. The average berry size is 2.5g for a single berry. Considering the average weight across all blueberries is only .5g, that means these berries are giants!
Since the Camellia Blueberry is a southern highbush variety, it does best growing in zones 7-8. If you don’t know which planting zone you live in, here is a great resource to use to learn about them!
Size and Spacing
For the healthiest plants, which result in the healthiest fruit, the spacing of your plants is important. They won’t grow correctly if they’re too close together. These plants grow to be around 6 feet tall and somewhere between 3′ to 4′ wide. In order to account for growth and spread of maturing bushes, you need to plan your young Camellia Blueberry plants at least 6 feet apart. This variety of blueberry bush does not do well in a container. It’s best to plant these directly into the ground.
As with most blueberry varieties, your Camellia Blueberry is technically self-pollinating, but it will produce better fruit if it’s planted near other varieties of blueberry plants. That’s called cross-pollination. A few great pollinator options are the Palmetto, Star, or Legacy blueberries.
Blueberry Shrub Care
Camellia blueberries aren’t fussy. They just need the typical blueberry bush care. They need the right sunlight, soil type, amount of water and fertilizer, and appropriate pruning in order to thrive. You can read on to see the specifics for Camellia blueberries, but also feel free to refer to our guide on how to grow blueberries. It goes much more in depth and will hopefully answer any questions you have. You can find it right here — How to Grow Blueberry Plants.
These blueberry plants need access to full sunlight. That means they need at least 6 hours of full, direct sunlight each day to grow to their full potential.
A Camellia blueberry, like most blueberry varieties, thrive in acidic soil. They also like their soil to be sandy. Prior to planting your new bushes, incorporate some sand and compost into the planting hole.
These blueberries need moist, not soggy, soil. The soil needs to not dry out completely between waterings. To help maintain moisture and prevent some weed growth, you can spread some pine bark mulch all around the bases of your bushes. A simple irrigation system can help you water effectively as well.
A few weeks after planting, feed each plant with one ounce of balanced fertilizer. You could also substitute a well-rotted compost tea if you compost already. Use the same amount the next year, and then increase the fertilizer used by one ounce per year until the plant is 12 years old.
You should prune every year early in the Spring. Remove some of the oldest branches and snip off any weaker looking twigs. Trim the remaining stems by 1/3 to force new growth, which bears the most fruit.
If you’d like a more in depth look at the blueberry pruning process, including very detailed descriptions of how and why you should prune, we have an article that will absolutely help you! You can find it right here — How to Prune Blueberry Bushes.
Stem blight is going to be the most common disease that affects Camellia blueberries. They’re known for being able to grow through a lot, but stem blight could knock them out, if not dealt with. Simply cut off any affected branch (one that suddenly turns brown) 6-8 inches below the color change and dispose of it immediately.
For more information, you can visit Blueberry Bush Diseases, right here on Minnetonka Orchards.
Birds love feasting on these berries. You can put a net over your bushes once your berries start ripening, but avoid doing it too early and interfering with the cross pollination process.
When to Harvest Camellia Blueberries
These berries should be ready to harvest between May and August.
For more information on harvesting blueberries, check out this article — When Is the Right Time To Pick Blueberries?
Common Uses For Camellia Blueberries
The size and firmness of this blueberry lends it to enjoying raw, but it’s also a great addition to any of your baked goods!
What Does This Blueberry Taste Like?
Camellia blueberries are known for their tropical aroma and flavor.
These berries will work very well in any of your blueberry pies, crumbles, muffins, or pancakes.
Camellia blueberries are delicious raw! These larger berries are firm and are a great addition to your granola, cereal, or salads.
Canning / Freezing / Drying
Canning these blueberries whole isn’t ideal, but using them to make canned syrup or jam is a fantastic idea!
They will freeze well and it will prolong their use up to 2 years. Spread them out on a cookie sheet and pop them in the freezer overnight. After that, transfer them to a freezer bag or container and they’ll be good up to 2 years!
Drying Camellia blueberries is good for homemade trailmix or granola. You can use a food dehydrator, or you can just use your oven with this tutorial.
Health Benefits of Camellia Blueberries
Blueberries are full of amazing things for your body. They’ve got a ton of vitamins and minerals in them, as well as antioxidants to help keep your body healthy at a cellular level.
For a full guide to the health benefits of blueberries, visit our guide right here — Health Benefits of Blueberries.
You can also find more information in our nutritional guide here — Blueberry Nutrition Guide.
Where to Buy Camellia Blueberry Plants or Seeds
First, check with your local nurseries. If you can’t find any locally, you can find Camellia Blueberry plants online here at Just Fruits and Exotics
Where to Buy Camellia Blueberries
These blueberries aren’t typically sold in grocery stores. If you live in a zone where they grow, check at your farmers markets! If you can’t find any there, your best bet is going to be to grow them yourself. It’s a good thing you have all the knowledge you need to make it happen in this post!
Wrapping Up the Camellia Blueberry
The Camellia Blueberry is a great addition to any home garden or U-Pick garden for good reasons— it’s hardy, reliable, and produces large, delicious berries. They’re a great berry to try your hand at growing yourself!
Do you have any experience with the Camellia Blueberry? How would you describe its taste? Let us know in the comments section below — we love hearing from you! To read about other blueberries, visit this link for our blueberry blog posts.