How to Care for Tif Blueberry Bushes & Climax Blueberry Bushes

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Blueberry plants are prized in the home garden for their delicious edible fruit.
Blueberry plants are prized in the home garden for their delicious edible fruit. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Tif, or Tifblue, and Climax blueberries are varieties of rabbiteye blueberries, considered an extremely delicious species of the fruit. Rabbiteye blueberries, Vaccinium ashei, are native to the southern United States and are a favorite in home gardens for their tolerance to disease, heat and drought. Tif blueberries are considered "the most universally outstanding rabbiteye blueberry" as it is the most cold hardy and highly productive, according to the Texas AgriLife Extension Service. Climax is known for its rapid ripening. Though both varieties require the same care, expect climax to ripen early in the season and Tif to ripen mid season.

Things You'll Need

  • Slow-release 12-4-1 fertilizer or camellia fertilizer
  • Organic mulch
  • Drip irrigation system
  • Pruning shears
  • Gardening gloves

Clear weeds and sod from a location that provides full-sun exposure for greatest fruit development in your Tif and Climax rabbiteye blueberries.

Cultivate both Tif and Climax blueberries in moist, well-drained soil high in organic content. Maintain an acid soil pH of 4.0 to 5.0 for good development. Keep the pH below 5.5 to avoid plant death, according to the Texas AgriLife Extension Service.

Fertilize your rabbiteye blueberries with a slow-release sulfur-coated urea fertilizer like 12-4-1 or simply a camellia fertilizer but avoid commercial options that can damage your plants. Do not over fertilize your blueberries. Start fertilizing after one year when new growth begins during spring and just after harvesting at a rate of 1 oz. for every year of your bush's life.

Mulch the soil surrounding your Tif and Climax blueberries at a distance of approximately 2 feet surrounding your plant. Use organic mulch like peat moss or pine bark. Lay a 3- to-4 inch layer of mulch as a means of keeping soil acid, retaining water, keeping temperatures consistent and preventing weed growth that attracts insect pests.

Irrigate your blueberries twice a week during the first year, thoroughly saturating soil instead of providing light watering. Irrigate once plants are established with 1 gallon of water daily during the second year and increasing in 1 gallon increments until you reach a 5-gallon mark. Use drip irrigation beneath mulch, particularly once you reach 5 gallons a day and opt, instead, to water the full amount once weekly. Water is necessary for the production of moist, juice-filled berries.

Prune away any low-lying, weak or dead branches before spring for full, healthy growth of your rabbiteye blueberries.

Tips & Warnings

  • Wear gardening gloves to prevent injury when handling sharp tools like pruning shears.

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