Charlie introduces us to a hardy variety of honeysuckle that produces delicious berries.
Under the names ‘Blue Forest’, ‘Blue Sky’ ‘Blue Berry’,’Blue Belle’, and ‘Blue Velvet’ the Siberian honeyberry is available in greenhouses and nurseries.
Tune in Friday evening and Saturday morning for more details on this underdog of ornamentals and tips for planting success.
There are varieties of many shrubs and trees
normally thought of as ornamentals that also produce great fruits for eating.
The service berry, that’s blooming now, has a selection called the saskatoon
that produces shorter plants with tasty, blueberry-sized fruits. Another
ornamental edible that I’m going to try is the honeyberry.
Honeyberies are in the honeysuckle
family. They’re native to Russia and Japan, widely adapted, easy to grow, pest
free, and hardy to zone 3. The shrub grows 3- to 7-feet tall and wide with
white flowers in spring and elongated blue fruits that ripen two weeks before
strawberries. Unlike some honeysuckles, this one is not invasive.
There are a number of different
varieties already available. ‘Blue Forest’ and ‘Blue Sky’ grow 3- to 4-feet
tall and wide making beautiful foundation plants. Taller varieties, such as
‘Blue Berry’ and ‘Blue Belle’, can grow 7- to 8-feet tall and wide and make an
excellent hedge. Since honeyberries flower so early, in our climate it’s best
to select late blooming varieties, such as ‘Kamchatka’ and ‘Blue Velvet’ that
flower when pollinating insects are active and frost are finished. Plant at
least two different varieties to get the most fruit.
Although they grow best in full sun
on well drained soils, honeyberries are adapted to part shade and moist clay
soils. Space plants 5- to 6-feet apart and mulch. Like blueberries,
honeyberries have shallow roots and benefit from a constant organic mulch cover
to keep the roots cool and moist.
Eat honeyberries fresh (they may be
a little tart if not allowed to ripen fully on the bush) or use them in pies,
cakes, muffins, jams, and jellies.
Now for this week’s tip, watch out
for the red lily leaf adult beetle emerging now as your bulb lilies start
growing. Handpick the adults and spray Spinosad or Neem on the slug-like larvae
found on the leaves.
Next week on the Vermont Garden Journal, I’ll be talking about red hot chili peppers. For
now, I’ll be seeing you in the garden!