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Something New In Blueberries – Pink Lemonade

Briggs Nursery, a wholesale grower from Elma, Washington, has announced a new introduction for 2009, a true first in blueberries.  The scientific name is Vaccinium ‘Pink Lemonade’. Briggs is trying hard to get enough of these plants to the trade, but they inform me that gardeners will probably have to wait till the 2010 season before supply will be sufficient to meet demand.

This new variety of blueberry is hardy to USDA Zone 4.  Growing requirements demand an acidic soil pH (4.5 – 5.5),  high light levels, well-drained soil rich in organic matter and adequate, even moisture.

‘Pink Lemonade’ offers four-season interest.  In spring the shrub sports pinkish-white showy bell-shaped flowers.  The fruits are pale greenish at first, then dappled pink, and finally develop a deep pink color indicating a ripened fruit. The leaves are smooth, glossy green, lanceolate, with serrated leaf margins. In fall, the leaves turn a bright orange fading to deep red.  Wintertime twigs are dusky reddish-brown.  Any unharvested fruit supplies sustaining food to songbirds and wildlife.

The shrub is vigorous, reaching four to five feet in height and width. ‘Pink Lemonade’ is thought to perform best in climates matching the optimum for rabbiteye cultivars.  Fruit ripening occurs mid-late to late season with moderate yields of medium-sized, glossy, bright pink fruit. The flavor is said to be mild with good fruit firmness.

This is a new introduction so proceed with caution.  Test performance by growing one in the fruit garden or in the ornamental ericaceous border with other plants which thrive in acid soil.  If this new introduction proves to produce excellent edible fruits it will be a great addition to the adventurous chef’s arsenal. Imagine a late summer compote of mixed berries with the addition of the ‘Pink Lemonade’ fruits, topped with a lemon creme sauce and a sprig of fresh mint leaves or a blueberry pie with a mix of the traditional blueberries along with the ‘Pink Lemonade’ berries.

Recommended Reading:

The Backyard Berry Book by Stella Otto (Ottographics, 1995)

Blueberries, Cranberries & Other Vacciniums by Jennifer Trehane (Timber Press, 2009)