If you’re looking for a blueberry plant on the smaller side of things, then you’ll definitely want to know about the Top Hat Blueberry. The Top Hat is a blueberry perfect for small space gardens, patios, balconies, or even indoor container gardening. But don’t let this blueberry’s diminutive size fool you because it delivers blueberries that are just as large and that pack just as much flavor as traditional-sized blueberry shrubs.
Let’s take a closer look at the Top Hat Blueberry — it may be just the right fit for your garden!
History of the Top Hat Blueberry
The Top Hat Blueberry was developed by the Michigan State Experiment Station of Michigan State University. It’s a fairly recent dwarf blueberry cultivation developed in the 1960s but it didn’t come into popularity until the 1980s. However, it’s become extremely popular in houses and apartments that don’t have room for a full-size blueberry bush.
The Top Hat Blueberry is a multi-generational cross between true angustifolium blueberries and standard northern highbush blueberries. If you want to create your own Top Hat, you should cross a short stature highbush plant with a compact, small lowbush plant.
Characteristics of the Top Hat Blueberry
The Top Hat Blueberry is a dwarf variety plant that grows to 1-2 feet in height. The Top Hat is an ideal solution for those who love fresh blueberries, but don’t have space for a garden (or they have a garden that can’t accommodate full-size blueberries). Let’s take a look at some of their distinguishing characteristics.
The recommended chill hours for a Top Hat Blueberry is 1,000 to 1,200 hours.
The Top Hat Blueberry ripens in mid-season, which is early to mid-summer.
While the Top Hat plant itself is small, it produces full-sized blueberries with full-sized flavor! The berries are relatively sweet, but also have the tartness of wild blueberries. They are firm, juicy, and perfectly round.
The Top Hat Blueberry shrub itself will only grow to 1-2 feet tall, with a similar spread. In the spring they bloom with white flowers that give way to lots of blueberries. While the blueberries are developing, the foliage will be a lovely shade of green. After you’ve harvested your berries, the leaves turn to beautiful orange and red colors for autumn.
Top Hat blueberries are medium-sized berries.
Top Hat Blueberry shrubs are hearty and cold-resistant and can grow in hardiness zones 3 through 7.
Size and Spacing
You can grow your Top Hat Blueberries in pots, gardens, or window-sill gardens. For containers, you should have one that’s at least 3.5″ in diameter when first growing your Top Hat plant. As the plant grows, it might be necessary to transfer it to a larger pot.
Top Hat Blueberries should be spaced 2 to 3 feet apart for in-ground planting.
The Top Hat Blueberry is self-fertile and doesn’t require cross-pollination. However, you should plant more than one Top Hat shrub in the same area for maximum yields and the best fruit quality.
Top Hat Blueberry Shrub Care
Caring for your blueberry shrub is one of the most critical aspects of producing high-quality blueberries. The amount of sunlight and water, the type of soil and fertilizer, and preventing diseases and pests are all important parts of growing a Top Hat Blueberry. For more in-depth information, visit our blog post on blueberry shrub care.
Top Hat Blueberries crave sunlight and should receive 6-8 hours per day, accompanied by partial shade.
The soil in which you plant your Top Hat Blueberry shrub will determine how successful it is. You should plant all blueberries in acidic soil with excellent drainage. The soil should also be organic and moisture retentive.
Once you’ve selected the correct soil, you should consider adding 4-6 inches of softwood cuttings in late spring. If you wait to add the cuttings until early summer, make sure to add semi-ripe cuttings.
Also, like most blueberries, the Top Hat needs plenty of water, especially in its first two years of growth. 1 to 2 inches of water every week is essential during the summer months. The soil should always be moist but not soggy.
If you want to add fertilizer, you should add some that’s well-balanced in the spring when your Top Hat blueberry shrubs flowers start to bloom. An easy trick is to use fertilizer that’s labeled for azaleas — they have the same feeding requirements as blueberries.
Top Hat Blueberries require little to no pruning. Unless you have multiple plants that start to intertwine, you should avoid pruning unless you spot deadwood or signs of disease.
Top Hat Blueberries are hardy plants that aren’t prone to many diseases. The main thing to guard against is mold or mildew if your Top Hat is planted indoors. A few of the other typical blueberry diseases to watch out for includes Mummy Berry and Phytophthora Rot Root. To know the signs you should be aware of, read our blog post on blueberry bush diseases.
If your Top Hat Blueberry is planted indoors, you can better protect them from nasty pests. However, most Top Hat plants are grown on decks or patios, which means you aren’t the only one who’s going to want your blueberries. You should always be on the lookout for birds, insects, and beetles. Aphids can devour the leaves on your blueberry plant and blueberry gall midges will target the fruit. You should cover them with protective netting to keep larger pests at bay.
For information about how to identify, eliminate, and deter pests, read our blog post on the 9 common pests you’ll encounter with blueberries.
When to Harvest Top Hat Blueberries
Top Hat blueberries should be harvested in mid-season. Early to mid-summer is most likely when your berries will be ripe for the picking. An excellent way to know when your blueberries are ready to be picked is that they will be a full-blue color. They should also be firm to the touch and will come off the bush with only gentle pressure.
Common Uses For Top Hat Blueberries
Top Hat blueberries are tasty treats that can be used in recipes that call for fresh or cooked blueberries.
What Does This Blueberry Taste Like?
Top Hat blueberries are on the sweet end of the blueberry flavor spectrum, but not overly so. They retain some tartness and acidity that’s standard of wild blueberries.
You’re probably familiar with the types of baked goods you can make with blueberries, such as muffins, cakes, and pies. But you can also use blueberries in cooked recipes such as pasta and meat dishes. Blueberries are excellent with beef, pork, fish, and poultry.
Like all blueberries, Top Hat blueberries are delicious to eat raw. They should be juicy and firm when you bite into a perfectly ripe one.
Canning / Freezing / Drying
Blueberries are also a great candidate for canning, freezing, and drying. Make sure to do each of these various methods correctly to ensure that your blueberries stay ripe and delicious.
The number of recipes you can use Top Hat blueberries in is seemingly endless. However, here are a few tasty ideas to get you started.
- Blueberry Balsamic Glazed Salmon
- Blueberry Balsamic Pork Tenderloin
- Blueberry-Dijon Chicken
- Easy Crumble Recipe
- Blueberry Coffee Cake
Health Benefits of Top Hat Blueberries
- They lower your blood pressure.
- They reduce the risk of heart disease.
- They lower your cholesterol levels.
- They reduce DNA damage which could help reduce the effects of aging.
Where to Buy Top Hat Blueberry Plants
You can find top Hat Blueberry plants at most nurseries and home improvement or gardening stores. However, if you’re having trouble, Top Hat Blueberries are sold online at Nature Hills Nursery.
Where to Buy Top Hat Blueberries
Top Hat blueberries are likely only available at your local farmers’ market. Because they’re smaller plants in size, they don’t produce enough berries to be a viable option for grocery stores.
Wrapping Up the Top Hat Blueberry
Whether you’re a blueberry-growing veteran or just starting, the Top Hat Blueberry is an excellent option for your next blueberry venture. They’re ideal for pots and tight spaces and will spice up your deck or patio area. From start to finish, Top Hat Blueberry plants are beautiful, low-maintenance, and produce delicious berries on par with their full-sized counterparts.
Have you grown a Top Hat Blueberry? If so, we’d love to hear all about it in the comments section below! Excited for more blueberry content? Then check out our blueberry page to learn all about how to grow, care for, and harvest this delicious fruit!