There’s a lot to love about the Sunshine Blue Blueberry, an elegant and delicious species of blueberry. These blueberry plants grow lovely pink and white flowers, making them a great choice, not only for their fruit but also to contribute to a colorful garden. Sunshine Blue blueberries can also be grown in pots, making them more accessible to the urban and small-space gardeners.
Keep reading to find out all about these fun blueberries and why you should consider them for your garden.
History of the Sunshine Blue Blueberry
With their unique name, it’s no surprise that these blueberries got their start in Florida.
Sunshine Blue blueberries were first developed and then patented by Dr. Arthur Elliott in 1979. The Sunshine Blue Blueberry variety is a southern highbush crossbreed, primarily hailing from the Avonblue and Sharpblue plants. Dr. Elliott was breeding these plants to suit his taste; as a result, their flavor is uniquely delicious. A nice, unplanned side effect of this hybrid is their ability to withstand fewer chilling hours than most other varieties of blueberries. People living in hotter climates are more likely to have success with this type of blueberry.
Today, many gardeners raise this strain of blueberries for their beautiful flowers and decorative foliage. Sunshine Blue Blueberries have small pink and white flowers that come in before the berries that many gardeners love the appearance of. In the fall, their leaves turn a rich burgundy, making it an ideal garden decoration throughout most of the seasons.
Sunshine Blue Blueberry Characteristics
The Sunshine Blue Blueberry needs more chill hours compared to other blueberries, such as the Winter Bell Blueberry. However, it is still a variety of blueberry that performs well in low chill areas; they only need roughly 150 chill hours to produce fruit. They do even better in cool regions such as the Pacific Northwest but can handle a warmer environment as well.
Sunshine Blue blueberries should be ready for harvest around midsummer. Their harvest can be expected from June through July, though some growers have reported harvesting as late as August and September.
They are sweet and tangy flavored. Compared to some other blueberries, this one is a standout. The blueberries are of moderate size and have an average to slightly less-than-average yield.
While large commercial farms are unlikely to pick up this variety anytime soon, their colorful foliage, cute name, and delicious berries make them perfect for backyard gardeners. Birds and mammals of all sizes love these berries, too, so you may need to invest in some netting to protect them.
These are medium-sized berries. While not the largest of all varieties, gardeners mainly love them for their ease of growth and flavor. A single bush can produce 5-10 pounds of berries.
Sunshine Blue Blueberry plants are recommended for USDA Hardiness Zones 5-10. This covers a broad range of the US from northern states such as Illinois, parts of Maine, and New York, and the southern states down through Florida, Texas, Louisiana, and Georgia.
Size and Spacing
While some blueberries can get up to 10 feet larger, Sunshine Blue Blueberries are a bit more compact. They usually grow to around 36 inches tall and can also grow 36 inches in their spread.
These are a dwarf variety of blueberries that can even be planted in pots on your patio, making this an excellent choice for those that may not have the space for a full-grown hedge.
Plants should be about 4-8 feet apart or can be set as close as 3 feet if you want to grow a complete hedge.
Like many blueberries, the Sunshine Blue Blueberry is a self-pollinator. While it doesn’t need another plant to be successful, it performs better with other nearby varieties for cross-pollination.
With a name like Sunshine Blue, you already know these little guys enjoy the sun and full sun, at that. If you are in a drier state, some partial shade in the afternoons may be beneficial.
You can also plant a Sunshine Blue Blueberry in more acidic soil than some other varieties of blueberries, with pH levels of 4.5 to about 5.5.
To make sure your sunny friend yields lots of blueberries, make sure they have plenty of water! The top inch of soil should always be moist.
If you do plant them in pots, beware of overwatering. Make sure your pots have proper drainage as well to avoid root rot. You should also apply mulch to keep the soil moist and help prevent weeds.
Part of the secret to a great crop is knowing when to prune your blueberries and how to do it correctly. Make sure to check out our guide on How to Prune Blueberries for detailed information. Remember, shoots that are in contact with the ground should be removed. You’ll also want to remove any dead or diseased branches.
Diseases and Care
Blueberries are relatively resistant to disease, but even with the best case, it can happen. The Sunshine Blue Blueberry is no exception.
Noticing your plant looking a little sad? Whether it’s blight, cankers, gall, or mildew, read our article on Blueberry Bush Diseases. It will provide information on how to treat (and prevent) common diseases and how to nurse your blueberries back to a sunny state!
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 Sunshine Blue Blueberry
Sunshine Blue Blueberries are known for their amazing taste. They are a great balance of sweet and tart.
These plants produce a berry very similar to what you’ll pick up in your local grocery store. They are on the firmer side so they can stand up to being used for your favorite muffin recipe or sauces. Their tanginess also allows them to be used for canning or fillings without being excessively sweet.
Have a look at our Recipes section for more ideas!
Health Benefits of the Sunshine Blue Blueberry
Blueberries are a superfood! They have higher levels of antioxidants than nearly any other fruit. In addition, they are a great source of fiber, minerals, and vitamin C.
A single cup of blueberries gives you nearly 24% of your daily recommended vitamin C. Want to know more about how blueberries are good for you?
Take a peek at all these nutritional facts on why you need some Sunshine Blue Blueberries in your diet.
Where to Buy the Sunshine Blue Blueberry
Want to try your hand at growing some Sunshine Blue Blueberries? Sunshine Blue Blueberries can be purchased on the Nature Hills website.
Remember these can be planted in pots as well as directly in the ground. If you intend to plant them in a pot, be sure to select a pot that will allow them plenty of space.
Wrapping up the Sunshine Blue Blueberry
In short, Sunshine Blue Blueberries are a great option for those looking to grow them in their backyard. They are a smaller variety that are tolerant of many conditions, including fewer chill hours. Their hardiness zone is vast, meaning that you can plant them in most areas of the US, especially if you intend to raise these blueberries in containers.
These may not be the best option for a large-scale berry operation, but for your neighborhood gardener, they are well worth a look. With a little love and care, they will produce attractive foliage and flowers in the spring, summer, and fall, and scrumptious berries for you to enjoy in the summer and fall months.
Have you grown Sunshine Blue Blueberries in your garden? Tell us how they did in our comments section below! To learn about other varieties of blueberries, click here for our blueberry blog posts.