Northern and southern highbush blueberry plants are typically self-fertile and will produce blueberries without a second plant. Rabbiteye and lowbush blueberry plants require another blueberry plant to produce fruit.
Blueberry plants are an excellent addition to the garden, but the type of blueberry bush you plant will determine if you need another blueberry plant to help pollinate.
When growing blueberries, two or more plants are always better than one. Blueberry plants also work well in the landscape, providing a nice splash of color in the fall, another good reason to plant two or more.
Northern Highbush Blueberry Plants (Self-Fertile)
Northern highbush blueberry plants are self-fertile. Their flowers have male (stamen) and female (pistil) parts, allowing bees and other insects to cross-pollinate between flowers.
Though Northern highbush blueberry bushes don't require another blueberry plant to produce berries, you can increase the number and size of blueberries by planting a second northern highbush cultivar.
I recommend planting two or more northern highbush cultivars because you can plant a blueberry plant that ripens early, mid, or late allowing you to harvest blueberries all season long. Combine this with increased berry production, and it's a win-win.
Popular varieties include Duke, Toro, Bluray, and Bluecrop. My favorite is the Patriot blueberry. It's a consistent producer with large sweet berries that are great for eating fresh or making your favorite dessert.
Southern Highbush Blueberry Plants (Typically Self-Fertile)
Southern Highbush Blueberry bushes are a hybrid of northern highbush and rabbiteye blueberry plants and are semi-fertile. They will produce berries alone but need a cross-pollinator to reach their full potential.
They can be cross-pollinated with a northern high bush, rabbiteye, or another southern highbush. Popular varieties include Dixieblue, O'Neal, Rebel, and Star.
Rabbiteye Blueberry Plants (Needs a Pollinator)
Rabbiteye blueberries are native to the southeastern United States and grow wild in Georgie, Alabama, and Northern Florida. Rabbiteye blueberry plants need a different rabbiteye for cross-pollination and berry production.
Several cultivars have been developed for commercial use and can be purchased for the home garden. Popular varieties include Brightwell, Climax, Powderblue, and Titan. Titan, released in 2011, is one of the newest rabbiteye varieties and produces large sweet berries.
Low Bush Blueberry Plants (Needs a Pollinator)
Low bush blueberries are found in the wild in the northeastern part of the United States and require another low bush for cross-pollination. There are only a few cultivars, one being Top Hat which is excellent for a container.
Huckleberries (Wild Blueberries)
In the Pacific Northwest, we call wild blueberries huckleberries. Not to be confused with the black huckleberry found on the East coast. You can find coastal huckleberry plants sold in the garden centers throughout the Pacific Northwest.
They are generally self-fertile, produce only a few small berries. Coastal Huckleberries are great in landscaping when you want to use a native evergreen plant, and you're not concerned about berry production.
The geographical area you live in will determine which type of blueberry plant you will plant. If you live in the southeastern United States, you will find both rabbiteye and southern highbush blueberries at your local garden centers. The cold temperature requirements for these plants are much lower than the Northern Highbush blueberry.
In the Pacific Northwest, there is a mix of blueberry cultivars. You can find Northern, Ribbeteye, and hybrid blueberry plants though out the region. The Southern Highbush is often tricky to grow in the Pacific Northwest because they bloom early and are susceptible to frost damage. By far, the most popular is the northern highbush varieties.