In addition to breeding cultivars for commercial blueberry (Vaccinium sp.) production, ornamental value has been a trait of interest for many blueberry breeders for a number of years (Galletta and Ballington, 1996). An older dwarf cultivar released for ornamental purposes, ‘Tophat’ (Moulton et al., 1977), has been around for some time, yet it is still popular today for small patio areas and container gardening. There are a number of traits that make a blueberry cultivar relevant for the ornamental industry, most having to do with aesthetic appeal for the home gardener based on some novel characteristic such as plant growth habit, fall color development, attractive berry color, large berry size, etc. Recent ornamental releases gaining popularity are the pink-fruited blueberry selection ARS 96-138 (being marketed as ‘Pink Lemonade’) and the home gardener cultivar Blue Suede that has attractive light blue fruit and good fall leaf color (Ehlenfeldt and Finn, 2007; NeSmith and Ehlenfeldt, 2010).
In keeping with pursuit of home gardener appeal, ‘Summer Sunset™’ is a new blueberry hybrid (Vaccinium sp.) being jointly released by the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, the University of Georgia Agricultural Experiment Station, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture–Agricultural Research Service for the ornamental and homeowner market. The new cultivar ripens around the time of the older early-ripening commercial rabbiteye blueberry (V. ashei Reade) cultivars Climax and Premier often available to home gardeners in the Southeast through retail nursery outlets (Brightwell and Draper, 1975; Krewer and NeSmith, 2006). The new cultivar offers considerable visual appeal for the consumer through its multicolored berries as the fruit ripens.
Galletta, G.J. & Ballington, J.R. 1996 Blueberries, cranberries, and ligonberries 1 107 Janick J. & Moore J.N. Fruit breeding vol. II. Vine and small fruits John Wiley & Sons, Inc. New York, NY
Krewer, G. & NeSmith, D.S. 2006 Blueberry cultivars for Georgia 10 July 2011. <http://www.smallfruits.org/Blueberries/production/06bbcvproc_Nov0206.pdf>.