By MAUREEN GILMER
Scripps Howard News Service
Blueberries are the hottest food-bearing plant on the market due to antioxidant content and sky-high grocery-store prices. In recent decades, breeding has resulted in dozens of varieties that extend the blueberry climate limitations to include the far north and far south. There is a huge range of sizes, from rangy shrubs to squat 2-foot-tall dwarfs. Plus, early- to late-yielding varieties extend the harvest season from weeks to months.
Because blueberries are upright, long-lived shrubs, you can plant a hedge of them that is both functional and productive. Hedges also give you access to both sides of each plant for more convenient harvest. The hedge offers seasonal change, with beautiful white urn-shaped flowers in the spring, fruit in summer and bright red leaf color in the fall.
Hedges allow you to combine blueberries that bloom early with those that flower midseason and with late varieties. Grouping plants also assists in cross-pollination, because not all blueberries are self-fertile. Those that are not self-fertile will require a second variety nearby that flowers at the same time. Before you buy a blueberry shrub, be sure to inquire if it needs a pollinator and whether that plant is available. If it is not in stock, try to stick with self-fertile forms.