Creating a wildlife haven one plant at a time

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Blueberries in Spring

My guilty pleasure is a cup of coffee every afternoon.  It gets me through that 3 pm slump and almost human until bedtime. Today as I sit with my coffee mug in hand, exhausted from a full day of garden clean up, I am being serenaded by the frogs in our pond. In the distance I hear a pileated woodpecker fervently banging its head against a tree, either in search of food or constructing a nesting cavity, while a Carolina wren is singing his lungs out from a nearby redbud that recently burst into bloom. The layers of sound in our spring garden are intoxicating and although my legs and feet are aching from a strenuous day, I sit soaking it all in.  

Southern Meadows Blog

I savor early spring, as each day brings a new discovery. This past week the blueberry buds burst into bloom and, according to my garden calendar, this means it’s officially spring in my part of the world.


Southern Meadows Blog

Our native pollinators agree. The Southeastern blueberry bees, the most efficient pollinator of our highbush and rabbiteye blueberries, are busily buzzing around the newly opened blooms, feeding on their rich nectar buffet. Specialists, they forage primarily on blueberries and are only active for a short period of time during mid-March to April when the blueberries are blooming. 
We have 15 blueberry shrubs on our property, each plant producing thousands of flowers. Each flower, a potential berry. Such demanding pollination services requires the work of a female blueberry bee who can be responsible for the production of 6,000 blueberries!  
Southern Meadows Blog
But these bees are not the only visitors. Other native pollinators, including clearwing moths, butterflies, bumblebees, and carpenter bees, take advantage of these early flowers.
Southern Meadows Blog

The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is one of the first butterflies to appear in March, just when two of its host plants, the tulip (Liriodendron) and wild cherry (prunus) trees start to leaf out. I frequently find these swallowtails camped out on the creeping phlox or blueberry shrubs this early in the season.

Southern Meadows Blog

They maneuver around the dangling blooms positioning themselves at various angles to best reach their proboscis into the back of the flowers. This often means fighting wind gusts that launch them airborne, but these beauties are determined and gracefully dance their way to another flower. 

Southern Meadows Blog

Early bloomers are a delight to behold, providing promise for a bountiful harvest. Come mid-summer we will be stuffing our mouths with fat, juicy berries and thanking these hard working pollinators. 

Happy vernal equinox from our garden to yours! 

13 comments:

  1. Happy vernal equinox, Karin! We have zero blooms so far, which is pretty normal for us at this time of year, although I think the ground is a tad more frozen than usual. Or perhaps that's just my impression as I'm really anxious for things to get growing. And on all those blueberry bushes, I have only one word - jealous!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know you are longing for spring. It's been a long winter in your neck of the woods. Hopefully the ground will begin to thaw very soon.

      Delete
  2. Your description of afternoon coffee is so pleasant. Those moments are so special! You're so fortunate to have so many Blueberry shrubs--yum! Your family members in Michigan have easy access to them, too. I have happy memories of family summer vacations to Michigan and making sure we came home with Blueberries. Enjoy the beautiful days of spring. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely! We always coveted Michigan blueberries when we visited. Now, Georgia actually produces more blueberries than Michigan. Crazy!

      Delete
  3. Wow, happy spring to you! I never knew there were such a thing as blueberry bees! I wonder if we have any up here in the north, as we do have a lot of wild blueberries, and I always see bees enjoying the flowers. There's nothing like the taste of fresh blueberries. We have a pick-your-own blueberry farm nearby, and in July the kids and I pick gallons and gallons of them!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know the range of the blueberry bees but I assume they are only found in the southeast. I know in Michigan the main native pollinators for blueberries are bumblebees, carpenter bees, miner bees so that may be the same for you in the northeast. Picking blueberries is such a great summer tradition!

      Delete
  4. Nice photographs! I love blueberries but have had no luck trying to grow them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They do require specific soil pH, which in some areas, isn't easy to achieve. Our clay soil is acidic so easy peasy, just add sunshine and a little pollinator love and you get a healthy harvest in Georgia.

      Delete
  5. Yellow Swallowtails are such beautiful butterflies! You have me wondering when blueberries must bloom here. Blueberries are generally found quite late in the summer here (late July/August). I'd be curious to know and must ask when I'm at the Farmer's Market this summer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sure the knowledgeable people at your Farmer's Market will be able to tell you. Blueberry buds are very picturesque. Watching them open and seeing pollinators discover them is a delight. Not to mention the fall color is outstanding. I really think they make an excellent landscape shrub.

      Delete
  6. when I'm at the Farmer's Market this summer.


    Royal1688

    ReplyDelete
  7. I love blueberries but my soil is not to their liking....fabulous! If I had coffee after 10 I would never sleep....our pond is finally waking and the spring peepers are having a ball and keeping me up!

    ReplyDelete
  8. https://mirandamiep.blogspot.com/
    Beautiful image the building You chose well for the theme.
    Your blog is very nice,Thanks for sharing good blog.
    สมัคร gclub

    ReplyDelete

"Don't wait for someone to bring you flowers. Plant your own garden and decorate your soul"

Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment...I love hearing from you!