blueberry harvest in a colander

Blueberry Varieties For Southern California

by | May 22, 2024

Today’s blogpost is gonna be short and sweet—because we’re talking about some sweet homegrown blueberries of course! Blueberries are known to be somewhat elusive for us gardeners here in Southern California, but I have good news. After some trial and error, I’ve got really good feelings about the future of blueberries here in my garden. If you’re looking for some recommendations for low chill blueberry varieties for Southern California, you’re in the right place.

Recently, I went around the garden and took photos of the blueberry plants (and their fruit) that are producing well at this time. This has been my best blueberry year yet, and this comes after a few seasons where I basically killed my blueberry plants! While I’m not quite ready to write a blueberry grow guide or anything, I can confidently offer feedback about varieties that have performed well for me—including one that is practically the hardiest blueberry variety in existence.

Chill Hours & Southern Highbush Blueberries

To start, Did you know that blueberries have chill hour requirements? While we often chat about chill hours in regards to our larger fruit trees, blueberries are a shrub that also have chill hour needs. If you need the details on the specifics of chill hours and how to lookup the chill hours in your area, check out my blogpost on Things to Consider Before Buying a Fruit Tree. Because blueberries have chill hour requirements, us Orange County, Los Angeles, and San Diego county gardeners will have more success if we stick with varieties that are ‘”low chill” blueberries also known as “southern highbush” varieties.

Southern highbush blueberries are a category of blueberry that are bred and known for their ability to produce in mild climates with fewer chill hours. The majority of Southern highbush varieties need between 100-300 chill hours, so they make great candidates as blueberry varieties for Southern California gardeners. On the other end of the spectrum are Northern highbush blueberries, which can require as many as 1000 chill hours!

Choosing Varieties for Good Pollination

In my garden, I went kinda nuts in terms of blueberry varieties. I chose more than five different types of blueberries because I wanted to be able to see which ones really produced well. Ideally, it’s my plan to test out blueberry varieties for Southern California, and then use those results to purchase a lot more of those specific plants and maybe even cultivate a blueberry hedge. I know… list of “plans” for our backyard is never-ending. At least we will never get bored.

While I went overboard with my choices, you don’t need tons of blueberry plants to get good pollination. In general, it’s recommended to have at least two different blueberry varieties to increase the chances of pollination and heavy fruit set on your blueberry bushes. Therefore, if you choose at least two low chill blueberries for your garden, you should be set!

Below, I’m gonna share specific blueberry varieties that have grown well for me, but then also some simple tips for how I’m growing the blueberries at this time.

Low Chill Blueberry Varieties for Southern California

Due to the finicky nature of blueberries in our climate, a lot of local gardeners opt out of growing them. And yes, it’s true, blueberries aren’t the easiest to grow here—but I’m excited to share how I’ve changed my blueberry growing game. First, here are some blueberry pictures and varieties from my backyard garden with feedback in the captions:

cluster of blueberry fruit on a misty blueberry plant

The first blueberry variety that I want to feature is ‘misty.’ This plant is one of my newer plants, but it has put off the most delicious and plump blueberries!

low chill blueberries ripening on plants in containers

If you are growing in Southern California zone 10, you need to grow ‘sunshine blue.’ This blueberry variety wins the award for hardiest, most resilient, and impressive blueberry. Why? Because I have almost killed my plants for three years and they still managed to go from sticks to setting lots of fruit on their scrawny branches this year. These blueberries have been moved twice and neglected more than I’d like to admit. I can only imagine how well they would be growing if I cared for them properly. Also, ‘sunshine blue’ is rumored to stay evergreen in some climates. It hasn’t been for me here, but I also suspect that’s due to neglect.

blueberry plant filled with ripening fruit in a backyard setting

‘Bountiful Blue’ blueberry is a special variety from Monrovia plants. I was gifted this plant when I visited their nursery, although I was not paid to promote it. Their website reads: “Self-fertile, though planting with another variety may increase yields. Needs only 150-200 winter chill hours. Semi-evergreen in mild climates.” The blueberries are really tasty but I do need to keep it at least one winter to see how it performs. So far, it has done well even after being transplanted into a larger pot.

low chill blueberry sharpblue fruit cluster

Friends, ‘sharpblue’ is an amazing low chill blueberry for Southern California. This wins the award for my biggest blueberry bush (about three feet tall and wide) and the fruit is plump and delicious. I definitely have my eye on getting more of these.

clusters of homegrown blueberries in a raised bed garden

This is a specialty blueberry called ‘peach sorbet’ by Bushel and Berry. According to their site, this blueberry is more compact (aka great for containers) and will have a more tropical-leaning flavor. It has done remarkably well for me in our raised bed container. Personally, I tend to like a more traditional blueberry flavor though.

Lastly, since I’ve shared the blueberry varieties that have grown well for me, I do want to note the ones that haven’t. In the end, neither the ’emerald’ blueberry or ‘jewel’ blueberry have set an ounce of fruit for me. Although both varieties are said to be low chill blueberries, they haven’t made the cut in my garden.

The Best Soil for Blueberries

Some areas of California are naturally gifted with more acidic soil that allows for blueberries to flourish in-ground. Our soil is definitely not that.

Blueberries need soil with an acidic ph (preferably between 4.0-5.5). There’s actually a whole story behind how I started growing blueberries years ago, but that will have to be a blogpost for another day. In short, my original blueberry plants were actually put in-ground and I attempted to acidify the soil myself. It didn’t take me long to realize it wasn’t working out. Now, I won’t say it’s impossible, but I simply realized that I didn’t set myself up for success to begin with, and I wasn’t ready to dedicate that space and put in the work for blueberries just yet. Because I got tired of constantly struggling with that part of the garden, I made some changes to how I grow blueberries and now have some thriving plants. 

First, I moved my blueberries to containers only. Even though I’m open to trying in-ground again, it has been much easier to grow blueberries in containers and pots. I go into more details on my growing situation down below!

Second, I have been using a combination of a bagged acid potting mix, compost, and berry/acid fertilizer. For example, Dr. Earth makes an acid potting mix that specifically mentions blueberries. Since I started growing my blueberries in acidic potting soil, my sad blueberries have recovered, and this year they have produced a handful every day. While that may not seem like a lot, it’s actually a huge difference from zero to production! Additionally, I’ve noticed a huge difference in the vigor and new growth of the plants as well, which signifies that each year will get better. Maybe in the future I’ll attempt in-ground again, but growing blueberries in containers has worked out really well for me!

About my Blueberry Containers

When I say I grow blueberries in containers, I am referring to a couple different growing situations.  First, I have a blueberry that came in a one gallon container, that I’ve since up-potted into a five gallon pot. To be honest, it’s a pain to keep the soil moist because the root ball is so large that the five gallon pot dries out fast. Next year, I think I’ll move this blueberry into a large tree box. Second, I have a couple wooden raised beds that I’ve converted into blueberry beds on my patio. Each raised bed is about 2 feet by 3 feet, and sits on our cement patio in mostly full sun. At this time, those are the current ways I’m growing blueberries in my backyard. As I said before, this growing situation has resulted in my blueberry plants being more prolific then previous years. In fact, one blueberry bush has grown into almost a three foot bush in one year!

Homegrown Blueberries Are So Worth It

Now that we have talked about blueberry varieties for Southern California and mild climates, I do want to mention flavor. In terms of flavor, I can’t say I taste a huge difference between varieties—they are all good! I will say that I do taste a flavor difference in ‘pink lemonade’ blueberries (my Mom grows them and they aren’t my favorite) and the ‘peach sorbet.’ Overall, I think I like the more traditional blueberry flavor profile.

The best part is that homegrown blueberries aren’t watery or mealy like a lot of ones you get in store. What’s funny is that my feelings on growing blueberries at home are much more clear than how I feel about homegrown strawberries, despite their finicky reputation.

As the seasons go, I’ll keep you all updated on my blueberry growing discoveries. Feel free to suggest varieties that have performed well for you as well!  If you found this article helpful, share with your local garden friends here in Southern California (or make sure they subscribe to my email newsletter too). Feel free to leave comments or questions below. Happy growing!


  1. Pamela Mang

    Can you give us some resources for blueberry plants which can be shipped to California? I’ve tried to find them everywhere, and they always say they can’t be shipped to California. I haven’t seen any blueberry plants in local nurseries. I really want to try growing blueberries.

    • Jenny

      Our local nursery had quite a few earlier in the year in Southern CA. Bummer you couldn’t find any! I got my very first one years ago at a local Home Depot. And I actually found a bunch at our local grocery store this year! It was a random seasonal plant shelf out front that had some I was able to snag. Online, I know both Baker Creek and Pinetree sell the plants and ship them to CA but not sure about the required chill hours for those.

      • FreckledCalifornian

        Ooh a local grocery store?! That’s cool. Thanks for sharing where you got your blueberries!

  2. Pamela Mang

    Any resources for blueberry plants which can be shipped to California? I’ve tried to find them everywhere, and they always say they can’t be shipped to California. I haven’t seen any blueberry plants in local nurseries. I really want to try growing blueberries.

  3. Antoinette A.

    I got the blueberry bug a few years ago too! I have a small patio so I’m growing some compact varieties from Bushel and Berry.

    Sapphire Cascade and Midnight Cascade blossomed and set fruit that’s almost ready!

    I got a Peach Sorbet back in March that already has some berries, but they’re not perfectly round. They look a bit odd. I’m not sure what that’s about, but otherwise, the plant/foliage looks good.

    I got a couple of Pink Icings 2 years ago; really pretty foliage, but one has produced only a few blossoms/berries after 2 years; I don’t think it’s getting enough chill hours. I really like the look of it, but will probably pull it up after summer. The other one struggled from the beginning and I finally pulled it up a couple of months ago.

    • Antoinette A.

      Forgot to include where I got them!
      Peach Sorbet and Pink Icing from: HomeDepot dot com.
      Sapphire Cascade and Midnight Cascade from Raintree nursery dot com.

    • FreckledCalifornian

      The odd shape could be from pollination. It happens sometimes if there is uneven pollination. How exciting that you’re trying all those compact varieties. You’ll have to let me know what you think of the flavors. I am surprised that the peach sorbet has grown very well. It is a pretty plant!

  4. nikkipolani

    Do you have to protect them from birds or possums or squirrels in your area? If so, what do you use? I’d like to grow some in containers but need to consider some kind of critter protection that’s not netting.

    • FreckledCalifornian

      Hi! So Far we have lucked out and not had to protect the blueberries yet. I do think we will have to one day. I know some gardeners build full cages around their blueberries, but I think something like a mesh tree bag would be a good option. Check out some of the things I’ve tried here: I hope some of those can be applicable to your growing situation!

  5. Laurie Lasala-Tuttle

    Thanks for all of this info Randi. I thinkbthat we need to move our blueberries to pots. Can you please share about watering needs, thanks!

    • FreckledCalifornian

      hello! As far as watering blueberries, they do like water. I have observed that some varieties (like the sunshine blue) seem to do okay with less water and more variable conditions. I think the variety definitely plays a part there. I tend to keep my blueberry containers consistently moist. I also have mulch in the containers which helps.


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Meet Randi

Urban gardening is my jam. I’m Randi, California girl who obsessively gardens to grow food and flowers around my urban home. Seasonal, simple living is what inspires me~ I hope it will inspire you too. Join me in crafting a life and home connected to the garden Read More>>>>

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