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The Elliot Blueberry

The Elliot blueberry is a favorite among northern growers for its cold-hardy nature, large fruits, and wonderfully complex taste. While a late-season ripening berry, the bush starts bearing fruit earlier than many other varieties. Let’s take a closer look at this interesting berry.

Closeup of clusters of blueberries on shrub similar to the Elliot Blueberry.

Elliot Blueberry / Fruit Characteristics

Here are some of the main characteristics of the Elliot Blueberry.

  • Northern Highbush
  • Exposed berry clusters for easy picking
  • Introduced in 1973
  • Large, firm berries
  • Cold-hardy
  • High Chill
  • Open, Upright growth habit
  • Moderate vigor
  • Low maintenance
  • A young plant can begin bearing medium-sized fruit in its second or third year.
  • Fruits through September
  • Bushes end the season with huge yields
  • Excellent freezing quality
  • Can last one week in refrigerator before freezing or eating is necessary

Chilling Level

The Elliot requires at least 800+ chilling hours. High temperatures can cause your berries to wrinkle.

Ripening Season

Very late season and fully ripens over three to five weeks in late August through September.

Fruit Qualities

Elliot blueberries have firm, light blue flesh with a slight dry picking scar. The berries can range from very tart to a very sweet taste depending on the ripening stage.

Berry Size

Medium to large (up to 1/2 inch when fully ripened).

Clusters of blueberries on bush.

Planting Zones

The Elliot Blueberry can be grown in USDA Hardiness Zones 4-7. The berries can shrivel in high heat.

Size and Spacing

Elliot Blueberries can grow 4-6 feet tall with a 4-5 foot spread. The recommended spacing for this variety is 4-6 between plants.

Pollination

The Elliot Blueberry is self-pollinating and can produce up to 25 pounds of berries with cross-pollinating partner plants nearby. A few suitable cross-pollinating varieties to plant with the Elliot include Patriot, Hardyblue, and Meadowlark.

Elliot Blueberry Bush Care

The Elliot Blueberry doesn’t have any special care needs. In fact, it’s one of the simplest blueberries you can grow. Just keep in mind this is a cold-hardy berry, so it’s not “heat resistant.”

Soil

Blueberries need acid-rich, loamy, well-drained soil. You can improve drainage by using containers or raised plant beds. The optimum pH for the Elliot Blueberry is 4.5-4.8. However, it can tolerate soil with a pH of up to 5.5.

We highly recommend conducting a soil test to determine your soil’s Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium (NPK) levels. This information can help you formulate the best type of fertilizer to buy based on the needs of your soil.

If your pH level is too high, you can use organic compounds like peat moss to help lower it.

Person planting blueberry shrub in the garden.

Fertilizer

The best fertilizer for blueberries contains high amounts of nitrogen with ammonium forms such as ammonium sulfate, cottonseed meal, sulfur-coated urea, and urea.

Don’t use nitrate fertilizers as this form of nitrogen is toxic to blueberry bushes.

Mulch is also highly recommended for growing blueberries and can control weeds, improve acidity in soil, moderate soil temperatures, and conserve soil moisture.

To mulch correctly, add a ring of mulch about 4-6 inches deep two or more feet from the crown of your bush. Here are a few good mulch materials for blueberry bushes.

  • Grass clippings
  • Pine bark
  • Leaves
  • Pine straw
  • Peat moss

It’s recommended that you fertilize in early spring.

Sunlight

Your blueberry bushes will need at least four hours of direct sunlight, but the more, the better. It’s not a good idea to plant near trees because of the shade and because they attract birds and squirrels who love munching on blueberries.

Trees can also transmit diseases that harm your blueberry plant’s air circulation. They also have extensive roots that compete for natural resources with blueberry plants, which have smaller root systems.

However, if that can’t be helped, you can protect your berries using special netting to keep critters out.

Bird eating blueberries.

Watering

You should ensure your blueberry plant’s getting at least one to two inches of water every week. It’s best to water your plants deeply but be careful not to overwater. Many people use a drip irrigation system to provide consistent and even moisture.

Pruning

The Elliot Blueberry bush does require periodic pruning. You can prune the thickest and oldest stems every couple of years while leaving the youngest, most productive stems in place. It would help to cut lower branches to prevent your fruit from touching the ground. You can learn more about pruning blueberries in this handy pruning guide.

Diseases & Care

Elliot Blueberry plants have an impressive disease and crack resistance, as is the case with many highbush varieties. However, there are still dangers to be aware of. You can learn more about blueberry bush diseases in this helpful guide.

Pests

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 Elliot Blueberry

Aside from the delicious ways you can eat Elliot blueberries, such as cooked and raw, they also can serve a more aesthetic purpose around your home. These are great landscaping bushes with pink-tinged bell-shaped flowers that bloom in the spring and bright showy burgundy stems with red, orange, purple, and yellow fall foliage.

Blueberry foliage in the fall.

What Do Elliot Blueberries Taste Like?

They have a tangy taste and a sugar-sweet flavor when fully ripened on the bush when picked early. Some might find the mid-ripened berries too tart, while others might find fully ripened berries too sweet. Finding the balance will largely depend upon the grower’s personal tastes — not to mention lots of “field testing.”

Cooking

These blueberries are wonderful in a number of dishes. For example, the mid-ripened berries are great in tarts, while many prefer to use the fully ripened berries in salads and pies. You can also find lots of recipes that use blueberries in meat dishes such as pork, steak, and poultry.

Eating Raw

Since these blueberries have very different flavor profiles depending on when you pick them, you can really mix up the tart and sweet flavors to create an exciting experience. These blueberries are ideal for salads, smoothies, and yogurts.

Canning Blueberries

It’s best not to can blueberries but rather turn them into delicious preserves and jellies.

Freezing Blueberries

These blueberries are excellent for freezing, retaining much of their flavor.

Drying Blueberries

The best way to dry your blueberries is using a food dehydrator. Short of that, you can also dry blueberries in the oven.

Recipes for Elliot Blueberries

Here are just a few delicious blueberry recipes that are perfect for Elliot blueberries.

Salmon with blueberry sauce.

Health Benefits of the Elliot Blueberry

Elliot has some of the highest antioxidant levels among all blueberry varieties. They also contain high amounts of fiber, vitamin C and K, manganese, and potassium. Some health benefits include:

  • Low calories
  • Reduce DNA damage which may protect against cancer and aging
  • Protect against bad cholesterol
  • Lower blood pressure
  • They May prevent heart disease
  • Can improve brain function and memory
  • They may help prevent diabetes
  • They may help fight urinary tract infections
  • Reduce muscle damage from strenuous exercise

One cup of blueberries each day can have a big impact on your health.

Where To Buy Elliot Blueberry Bushes

You can purchase blueberry plug plants online at retailers. You can also buy bushes online (for example, at Nature Hills Nursery), or depending on your zone, you may find them at your local nursery grocery or hardware store.

Where To Buy Elliot Blueberries

Buying Elliot blueberry fruit can be a bit more tricky. If you live in one of the growing zones, you may find them at your local grocery store or farmer’s market. If they are not available in your zone, you may be able to contact a farmers market out of state that sells them and have some shipped to your home.

The Last Word On the Elliot Blueberry

Closeup of cluster of blueberries on shrub.

The Elliot blueberry is a large berry with two distinct flavor personalities. These big, beautiful berry bushes are also great for landscaping, and you can yield bucket loads of berries year after year with the proper care. If you live in colder climates, this blueberry bush can be a very good one to add to your garden.