Posts Tagged With: blueberry flowers

Mississippi Blueberry Flower Season Has Begun

Mississippi blueberry flower season has begun. Bees are buzzing about the fields, pollinating white-ish bell-shaped flowers that dangle delicately. Even our native Vaccinium elliottii (Elliott’s blueberry) is flowering, making it one easy way to identify this edible native out from the roadsides and wooded areas along the road.

Last week I took these photographs in a couple of locations around south Mississippi. I will be collecting data on a lot of blueberry flowers later this week. The image above shows several stages at once, typical of blueberry.

Michigan State University (GO GREEN!) provides an excellent page with full color photos to assist in identifying the floral and leaf bud stages.

The image above shows all 7 stages of floral bud development: Dormant bud/no swelling, Bud with swelling, Bud with swelling and scales separating, Bud scales separate/individual flowers view-able, closed flower, open flower, and post-corolla drop. Tools such as official bud ratings for floral and leaf parts are things I use when compiling data for my supervisor’s potential plant patents and public releases for fruit crops.

Above images Stage 3 (bud swell with scales separating, tips of flowers just noticeable) and Stage 5 (individual flowers, but flower still closed). (might be more if you look closely) The University of Georgia also has a nice page with blueberry floral bud development images.

Blueberry inflorescence and floral development stages according to Spiers (1978). (A) Stage 1 – Inflorescence enclosed by bud scales (S). (B) Stage 2 – Inflorescence partially enclosed by bud scales, flowers covered by a large bract. (C) Stage 3 – Inflorescence with some bracts removed to show underlying developing flowers. (D) Stage 4 – Individual flowers expanded beyond bracts. (E) Stage 5 – Individual pre-anthetic flowers with elongate pedicels. (F) Stage 6 – Flowers at anthesis. (G) Stage 7 – Corolla dropped and beginning of fruit development. B = Bract; C = Corolla tube; F = Flower bud; K = Calyx tube; p = pedicel. Scale bars = 5 mm.

Here above is a source image with descriptions, as mentioned, from Spiers, 1978 (that’s Dr. James Spiers, who retired as Research Leader at the USDA ARS Horticultural Research Laboratory, Poplarville, MS)

In the photo above, there are several stages that can be viewed: early tight buds (greenish yellow), later pinkish buds (both at stage 5), full opened buds (stage 6) and even one post-corolla fall at stage 7 (the soon to be fruit).

Stage 2 seen above shows floral bud swelling with scales starting to separate.


Now that the plants are actively growing, go ahead and fertilize with an acid-loving plant fertilizer. I’ll probably hit mine at home in the next couple of weeks. If you are not a fan of eating blueberries, consider planting an native Elliott’s blueberry for all if its ornamental attributes (simply gorgeous at flowering in winter/spring and in the fall with green stems and red leaves) and let the wildlife enjoy the fruits of your labor.


Signing off from Mississippi (the Birthplace of Blues and BLUEBERRIES!…well, sort of…or maybe we just “do em right”)

The Garden Maiden

All images and text copyright 2019 The Garden Maiden


Categories: Fruit Crops, Research | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

My Botanical Data Collection of Potential Blueberry Releases 2018


Here are some of the images to capture the overview of botanical data I collected for potential blueberry releases for my boss. Now, obviously I cannot give any specific information. That would be unethical. This is just to show some of the stuff I have collected. It is detail-work, but great fun if you are into that sort of thing. I learned a lot too, based on reading many previous plant patent releases from various sources including the University of Georgia breeding program.

Most of these images were previously posted on Twitter the day the work was being done. The images are not high quality as they were snapped with my cheap cell phone but they give you an idea of what I was doing. Placing them all here is a good way to showcase the entire year in one location.

I began this year’s collection in February when the blueberries began to flower. Did you know there was such variation in blueberry flower color?





Look how tiny these little white flowers were!







Some of the flowers have a very faint, light perfume.



The honeybees enjoyed the flowers and we worked around each other all morning.


My initial measurements were taken in the field because it was an incredibly, beautiful day.


After working in the field, I collected data from the blueberry plants in the lab.


Check out the anthers and filaments of the stamens (male) on the blueberry flower.










I was so excited to be able to collect some pollen grains! My first time.


I sure am glad I enjoyed taking Plant Taxonomy class at the University of Arkansas with Dr. E Smith. Not only do I still carry around my “flash cards” (can you say PLANT NERD), but I am now able to put all of that to good use.


After flower analysis came fruit!



A little coffee, some good tunes on the MP3 player and I’m set for lab work.









So, my role in the blueberry breeding program goes something like this, although my duties vary from year to year. My boss selects plants to cross. The Lab Tech makes the crosses in the greenhouse. She collects the seeds from the fruit that results. The seed is planted in trays in the greenhouse. When they reach a few inches tall, I pot them into trays of peat pots. At the same time, my boss takes hundreds of cuttings in the field from selections to propagate. When they have rooted (hopefully), I pot them up into one gallon pots. After the seedlings have grown and rooted well in their peat pots, those seedlings are transplanted out into the field.

Here is a photo of part of my blueberry field planting this summer.


My boss observes them for several years, taking notes and selecting potential crosses for release.  Blueberry plants with the best potential are dug and transplanted into more permanent plantings. The cuttings which were also rooted and potted up into 1 gallon pots are maintained in our nursery and sent out for observation at nurseries or planted in our own blueberry fields for continued observation. But, I really do like my role in collecting finely detailed botanical data of taxonomic characteristics for the selections my boss would like to release. In order to release them, he must first submit a plant patent with this detailed information showing that the plant is new or novel.

As a Certified Professional Horticulturist, I love working in plant research. Especially traditional plant breeding.

All of this blueberry talk is making me hungry for some blueberry cobbler!

Yours in Gardening Goodness,

The Garden Maiden

All images and text copyright The Garden Maiden 2018



Categories: Fruit Crops, Research | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Blooming in My Yard: March 8-14, 2014

TheGardenMaiden copyright 2014, Spring blooms in my Mississippi yard

TheGardenMaiden copyright 2014, Spring blooms in my Mississippi yard

Often times (and sadly so) pulled out or sprayed with herbicide by many folks, this pink-flowering Oxalis wildflower pops up all over my patio garden each spring. I wouldn’t dream of spraying it out (of course I don’t like to spray anything except poison ivy), but I have occasionally moved it to a better home. And guess what? Its edible! I love the blog post on Oxalis written on Eat The Weeds. At any rate, it just started blooming in my garden this week! But in a couple of weeks there will be a plethora of pink flowers. The benefits are that it is very low maintenance, low growing, and will grow in cracks or other hard-to-plant areas.

TheGardenMaiden copyright 2014, Spring blooms in my Mississippi yard

TheGardenMaiden copyright 2014, Spring blooms in my Mississippi yard

The very first blooms of my rhododendrons have opened. They are a couple of weeks from peak (the perfect time for a garden party), but these blossoms will tease me until then. Remember, if in doubt, just call it a rhododendron, because “All azaleas are rhododendrons but not all rhododendrons are azaleas.” This is because their genus is Rhodendron. Read more about their classification on  I am so lucky that in times past someone did a wonderful job of planting trees, shrubs, and perennials in my yard. I repay the kindness by planting more as I am able for future homeowners to admire and love.

TheGardenMaiden copyright 2014, Spring blooms in my Mississippi yard

TheGardenMaiden copyright 2014, Spring blooms in my Mississippi yard

The wild, native Prunus pictured above, likely Prunus serotina (black cherry) is blooming now too. Although this tree is growing on adjacent property, it is full evolved onto my property. However, there are seedlings that pop up everywhere, so I may be inclined this year to dig up a couple and plant out in my yard. Otherwise, they usually end up chopped up with the lawnmower or victim to the compost.  Read Dr. Eric Stafne’s blog post on wild prunus. Look for this tree blooming in the woods on your spring hikes!

TheGardenMaiden copyright 2014, Spring blooms in my Mississippi yard

TheGardenMaiden copyright 2014, Spring blooms in my Mississippi yard

Last week I showed images from my fruiting pear and one of the pollinator pears. The pollinator image above is my second pollinator pear and just started flowering this week. It is likely a different species, although it does get a bit more shade, both factors that can affect timing of flowering. As with the other pear used for pollinating, it flowers first, then the leaves will emerge.

TheGardenMaiden copyright 2014, Spring blooms in my Mississippi yard

TheGardenMaiden copyright 2014, Spring blooms in my Mississippi yard

The blueberries are blooming! Both native, such as Vaccinium elliottii, and the cultivated blueberries (above) are flowering. I love their dainty, hanging, bell-like flowers that seem to shimmer in the morning sun. Both are edible! If you are interested in fruit and nut crop information, considering following Dr. Stafne’s blog, which includes information on blueberries. Be on the look for this native blueberry blooming this month if you are out hiking.

TheGardenMaiden copyright 2014, Spring blooms in my Mississippi yard

TheGardenMaiden copyright 2014, Spring blooms in my Mississippi yard

Whew! Can you smell it? Okay, okay, so its not your typical “flower”, but this final gem pictured above is a fungi that emerged near my raised bed. Known commonly as a stinkhorn, I am pretty sure it is of the genus Clathrus. ? Some good information with images can be found on East Tennessee Wildflowers: Fantastic Fungi! This is the second one in my yard this spring.

Its a beautiful day outside and I have a ton of work to do and now half the day is gone from me!

Have a great weekend and try to enjoy some St. Patrick’s Day parades!

Keep Growin’
The Garden Maiden

All images and text copyright 2014 The Garden Maiden

Categories: What's Blooming | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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