Garden Talk

with Rebecca Jordi

Q: What can you tell me about the Japanese blueberry shrub and can I grow it here?

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Japanese Blueberry

Japanese Blueberry

A:   Japanese blueberry, Elaeocarpus decipens, can be grown in our cold hardiness zone. This evergreen tree grows about 30 to 40 feet tall and equally as wide. Japanese blueberry prefers well drained soil and full sun. Some interior foliage turns bright red and drops in spring and periodically throughout the year. This is normal and is not cause for concern. Japanese blueberry has small, inconspicuous fragrant flowers.  It has a propensity to become chlorotic on high pH soils so this might limit using it in commercial or home sites where soil is often alkaline. It is too difficult to lower the pH for any substantial amount of time to keep the plant lush and green in an alkaline environment. The high production of fruit may cause it to be messy on walkways. However, berry production should not be a problem if using it as a hedge in a home landscape.  Just keep its shrub away from driveways and sidewalks.  Piercing sucking insects may be a problem, but early scouting of insect feeding can be controlled with either insecticidal soap or ultrafine horticulture oil. Formation of sooty mold is your best indication the pest populations have become too high.

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