Blueberries are adapted to many areas across the southeastern United States, especially those that contain genes from native species such as Vaccinium darrowii Camp and the rabbiteye species Vaccinium virgatum Aiton (syn. Vaccinium ashei Reade). Vaccinium darrowii is typically compact in the wild and is often evergreen, whereas rabbiteye blueberries are typically deciduous and highly vigorous. Both V. darrowii and V. virgatum have been used for many years in breeding programs to develop hybrids adapted to the low-chill (<400 h below 7 °C) to mid-chill (400–800 h below 7 °C) regions of the southeastern United States. Most of the breeding has been aimed at commercial cultivars; however, homeowners also like having adapted cultivars, but they often desire plants with ornamental appeal as well. 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 characteristics such as dwarf plant growth habit, fall color development, attractive berry color, or large berry size. ‘Tophat’, released for ornamental purposes in the 1970s, is a dwarf blueberry hybrid containing lowbush (Vaccinium angustifolium Aiton) and northern highbush (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) in its lineage (Moulton et al., 1977). It is still popular today for small patio areas and container gardening, but is not well adapted to low- to mid-chill growing regions. More recent ornamental releases include Blue Suede® (V. corymbosum ‘TH-682’ USPP 21222), Summer Sunset™ (Vaccinium sp. ‘T-885’ USPP 23374), and ‘Perpetua’ (Vaccinium hybrid USPP 24209) (Finn et al., 2015; NeSmith and Ehlenfeldt, 2010, 2011).
‘TO-1088’ (USPP 28467) Cutie Pie™ is a new blueberry hybrid (Vaccinium sp.) being released by the University of Georgia (UGA) for home gardeners in mid-chill regions. The new cultivar ripens later than late-season southern highbush (V. corymbosum L. hybrids), around or before the time of early ripening commercial rabbiteye blueberry cultivars. The new cultivar offers considerable visual appeal for the consumer via its compact growth habit, dense flowering canopy, and desirable fall foliage color.
Finn, C.E., Strik, B.C., Mackey, T.A., Hummer, K.E. & Martin, R.R. 2015 ‘Perpetua’ ornamental reflowering blueberry HortScience. 50 1828 1829