Edible landscaping is a new term for an old concept

Lee Rouse  |  1/29/2018 2:30:42 PM

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Edible landscaping is a new term for an old concept that has gained popularity over the years. Edible landscaping is the idea of incorporating plant material that is edible into the landscape, instead of an isolated or defined food-growing area. The rabbiteye blueberries are an excellent addition to the landscape that provide fruit as well as aesthetic qualities that allow it to blend in with the landscape as a whole.

Rabbiteye blueberries were included in the LSU AgCenter Super Plant program in fall 2014. The Louisiana Super Plant program is an educational and marketing campaign that highlights tough and beautiful plants that perform well in Louisiana landscapes. The rabbiteye blueberries have a proven track record, having gone through several years of university evaluations and observations.

One of the most critical pieces of information to understand about having a successful blueberry crop is that two different varieties of blueberries need to be planted near each other. There are many different varieties to choose from such, as Climax, Premier Tiffblue and Brightwell. Each variety has its own individual qualities, making them stand out slightly from one another.

Rabbiteye blueberries should be planted 6 to 8 feet apart, allowing enough room to pick from all sides. On the other hand, if you use rabbiteye blueberries in a hedge-type setting, consider planting them slightly closer together on a 4 to 6-foot spacing.

After selecting two different varieties, be sure to plant blueberries in an area that has full sun. Full sun is defined by an area receiving eight or more hours of sunlight each day. Be sure that the soil is well-drained and slightly sandy with a pH of at least 4.5 to 5.5. If soil is not as acidic as it needs to be, consider adding organic matter at planting. Organic matter that can be added to lower the pH includes peat moss or pine bark. This will greatly increase the productivity of your blueberry plantings.

During the first year of establishment, blueberries do not require very much pruning. As the blueberry plants get older, nearing the fifth or sixth year of establishment, pruning will need to begin. The primary purpose pruning is to control and maintain the size of the plant and to encourage new growth. We can do this by selecting and removing older canes from the bush, which helps to direct energies into new growth.

One reason we see so many blueberry farms around the state is because blueberries are fairly easy to grow, and they have little insect and disease pressures that homeowners need to worry about. Some insects and diseases still could present problems, such as blueberry gall, midges, cranberry fruit worm, different types of caterpillars, stink bugs scale and flower thrips. Diseases to watch out for include botrytis blight, stem canker, septoria leaf spot and powdery mildew.

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