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The Emerald Blueberry

The Emerald Blueberry bush is one of the newer blueberry bushes available on the market, released to the public in 2001. First cultivated at the University of Florida, this Southern Highbush hybrid grows vigorously and produces high yields of very large blueberries when correctly cared for. Take a moment and read on to learn all about these blueberries and how to look after them so that you can enjoy delicious fruits picked in your own garden.

Overhead view of a bowl of ripe blueberries.

History of the Emerald Blueberry

The Emerald Blueberry has an interesting history. It started as a seedling from a cross between FL91-69 × NC1528 blueberry plants in 1991. It counts the Misty, Darrow, Avonblue, and Bluecrop blueberries in its genealogy. It was selected from 500 hundred seedlings and propagated, tested, and eventually cloned until its patent (USPP 12,165) and release in 2001 by the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station.

Its Latin name is Vaccinium Hybrid’ Emerald’.

Characteristics of the Emerald Blueberry

Hands picking large ripe blueberries simiarl to the fruit of an Emerald Blueberry.

The Emerald Blueberry shrub is a hard worker and will propagate from softwood cuttings. It grows rapidly and has stout canes. The blueberries are large and sweet, and this bush yields high rewards, making it worth the effort.

This blueberry is not a self-pollinator and should be planted with other southern highbush varieties like the Jewel, Springhigh, and Abundance. It has the typical blueberry shrub look with dark green leaves and tightly clustered white flowers that become medium-blue berries. You can expect this blueberry plant to produce blueberries after approximately two years, and producing fruit before then is not recommended.

Chilling Level

The Emerald Blueberry is hardy to 0°F and is moderately low chill, and requires approximately 250 hours to break dormancy.

Ripening Season

Emerald blueberries ripen mid-season around the same time as Star blueberries. Read all about the right time to pick your blueberries here.

Fruit qualities

Emerald blueberries are large, firm, and sweet, ripening in tight clusters on your shrub. They are the quintessential blueberry.

Closeup of pile of picked ripe blueberries.

Fruit size

These blueberries are very large, and their average weight per blueberry is approximately 2.16g.

Planting Zones of the Emerald Blueberry Bush

This blueberry likes Florida and is suitable for hardiness zones 8 to 10. In zone 8, the average temperature is 10 to 20 degrees F with mild winters and hot summers. In zone 10, the average temperature is 30 to 40 degrees F, making it suitable for warm climate gardens.

Size and Spacing

The Emerald Blueberry bush is tall, typical of southern highbush varieties, reaching a height of between 5 and 6 feet or more and a width of 4 to 6 feet at maturity. If you want to grow a hedge of these blueberry bushes, you can plant them approximately 5 to 6 apart.

If you prefer your fruit shrubs to be individually placed, you need to put them 8 to 10 feet apart from other blueberry bushes or plants. They are not suitable for small gardens or pots.

Pollination

Blueberry shrub in bloom with white blossoms.

The Emerald Blueberry doesn’t self-pollinate, and you should cross-pollinate with other southern highbush varieties of a similar genus. You can cross-pollinate with the Jewel, Springhigh, and Abundance varieties. Cross-pollinating will produce a larger fruit yield.

Blueberry Shrub Care

As with any plant, investing some time, effort, and a little bit of research will put you on the path to reaping the rewards (or in this case, the blueberries). We’ll hit the high points of blueberry care in this article — for a more in-depth read on growing and caring for blueberries, click here.

Sunlight

In cooler climates, the Emerald Blueberry shrub requires a minimum of six hours of full sunlight and will tolerate light shade, but this may affect your fruit yield. In hotter climates, they will benefit from light shade.

Watering

It ‘s best to water your Emerald Blueberry bush regularly. Water weekly if the weather is hot and dry. The soil should be well-drained and slightly acidic (pH 4.5 to 5.5). This blueberry bush is drought tolerant, but it will affect the blueberry yield, and your plant will grow more slowly.

Pruning

The Emerald Blueberry does need pruning as well as staking. The blueberry crop produced by this plant is heavy, and staking your bush will help keep your fruit off the ground.

If you have the patience, it is best to prevent this plant from fruiting for two years after planting. You do this by removing the buds — this will allow the blueberry bush to grow more sturdily so it can bear the weight of your blueberry crop better.

Prune your blueberry bush in late winter or early spring when it is dormant. Read more about the ins and outs of pruning blueberries here.

Diseases & Pests

Blueberry shrubs are generally resistant to diseases, but the Emerald Blueberry is most susceptible to root rot, stem blight, and rust. Good air circulation, watering at the root level, and well-drained soil will help prevent your blueberry from getting sick. Read more about diseases that affect blueberries here.

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 Emerald Blueberry

Cupcakes with fresh blueberries  decorating the icing.

Blueberries are delicious and nutritious! They are an excellent fruit to eat and can be incorporated into your day-to-day diet in many ways. Once upon a time, wild blueberries may have been used as a way to dye fabric, but now we usually just eat them.

Cooking

Emerald blueberries complement zesty flavors; think blueberry and lemon cake with lemon drizzle. At the same time, they add to savory dishes, adding a hint of sweetness that improves the dish’s overall taste and works well with steak, salmon, and pork.

Eating Raw

The great thing about this blueberry is that it is very large, so it is an impressive sight. You can use this blueberry to garnish your breakfast pancakes with a drizzle of syrup, or if you are stepping away from sugar, you can grab a handful to eat or sweeten your meal.

Canning / Freezing / Drying

Emerald blueberries can be canned, frozen and dried, using a dehydrator or sheet pan. Blueberry jam is an excellent choice when you have an abundance of blueberries, but if you need more inspiration, look here for interesting recipes. And if you don’t have time to make jam, freeze your blueberries for future baking and cooking endeavors.

Health Benefits of the Emerald Blueberry

A bowl of granola and milk with fresh blueberries.

The health benefits of blueberries are numerous, and they are anti-oxidant and vitamin-rich. If I landed on a desert island, I would want a fruit-producing blueberry. Read more about the health benefits of this fruit here and its nutrition profile here.

Where To Buy The Emerald Blueberry Shrub?

You can purchase your Emerald blueberry shrub here at Amazon. Nature Hills Nursery is another popular online retailer for a variety of blueberry plants.

Where To Buy Emerald Blueberries

Emerald blueberries are grown widely in California and the Southeast and can be purchased from farmers or commercially.

Wrapping up The Emerald Blueberry

A closeup of fresh blueberries.

If you live in a warmer climate and already have some experience growing blueberries, the Emerald Blueberry may be a good addition to your garden. Its yield is gratifying at 16 to 20 pounds per season per plant after two years. This plant is a workhorse, and it shows.

To read more about blueberries, click here for our informational articles on blueberries. For blueberry recipe ideas, visit our Recipes section.