May 28, 2014

How to Grow Honeyberries - and Easy-to-Grow Super Food

Honeyberries (Lonicera caerulea) aren't something you're likely to find in the grocery store, but they can be a fantastic addition to your yard. The berries look like elongated blueberries - and they taste like blueberries*, too. (Some people say they are more like a cross between blueberries and raspberries.) But here's the reason I grow them: They ripen a bit earlier than blueberries, are more shade tolerant, and don't require acidic soil.



One of my second year honeberry bushes
Honeyberries grow in bush form, 5 to 7 feet tall, making them a great-looking hedge. They are native to Russia, which means they are quite hardy - most varieties to -40 degrees F. They grow well in zones 0 - 8, depending upon the variety. Honeyberries like part sun in warmer regions and full sun if you're in a colder zone. You'll need at least two bushes of different varieties because they must cross pollinate in order to produce fruit.

For best results, plant honeyberries in moist, well-draining soil. They like a pH of 5 to 8. For the largest berries, mulch well, using at least 2 and up to 4 inches or organic matter like leaves, straw, or bark. No pruning is necessary, except to remove dead or broken branches, but some pruning after harvesting can encourage bigger berries the following year.

During the bush's first year, you may get a handful of fruit, but it usually takes 3 years for the bush to really start producing optimally. The berries should be picked when well ripe - they will be dark blue. If the berries taste tart, you're harvesting too soon.

It's very difficult to find nutritional information on honeyberries, but all sources touching on the topic claim it's a super food. The berries are high in vitamin C and
antioxidants, and may reduce blood pressure, gastrointestinal and cardiovascular disease.
  
* Despite the many similarities honeyberries have with blueberries, they are from different families. Honeyberries are in the honeysuckle family. Other names for honeyberries include haskap, blue-berried honeysuckle, blue honeysuckle, edible honeysuckle, and sweetberry honeysuckle.


5 comments:

  1. I have never even heard of honey berries! I live in a dry area at about 4,000 feet. Do you think they would grow here?

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  2. Bekki, I think they'd do fine. Just be sure they get part shade.

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  3. Do honeyberry plants lose their leaves in the winter?

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  4. Do honeyberry plants lose their leaves in the winter?

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  5. Didi, my honeyberries loose their leaves in winter. As far as I know, all honeyberries do.

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