Learn About Honeyberries

How to Sow

Honeyberry: Potted Fruit Plant

How to Plant

Planting Potted Plants:

  • Choose a location in full sun in an area with well-drained soil with a pH of around 6.5.
  • Plant at least two varieties that bloom at the same time for cross pollination. Burpee sells these as a collection.
  • Prepare the bed by turning the soil under to a depth of 6-12 inches removing any debris, and lightly raking as level as possible.
  • The addition of organic matter (leaf mold, compost, well-rotted manure) benefits all gardens and is essential in recently constructed neighborhoods.
  • Space plants 4-5 feet apart in the garden.
  • Dig a hole at least 2 times the size of the root ball.
  • Set the plant in the hole so that the root ball is level with the surrounding soil, backfill and press the soil firmly into the hole cavity.
  • Water deeply. The water will seal off any air pockets around the root ball.
  • Use a stick or marker to indicate where the plant is planted.

How to Grow

  • Keep weeds under control during the growing season. Weeds compete with plants for water, space and nutrients. Control them by either cultivating often or use a mulch to prevent their seeds from germinating.
  • Keep plants well-watered during the growing season, especially during dry spells. Plants need about 1-2 inches of rain per week during the growing season. It's best to water with a drip or trickle system that delivers water at low pressure at the soil level. If you water with overhead sprinklers, water early in the day so the foliage has time to dry off before evening, to minimize disease problems. Keep the soil moist but not saturated.
  • Do not fertilize newly planted bushes until they have leafed out; use a balanced organic fertilizer in early spring and again after they flower. Do not over fertilize too much as fertilizer will produce leafy plant with no flowers and fruit.
  • Prune in late winter or early spring before the new growth begins, and after fruiting is over to encourage new growth which will fruit next season. Pruning encourages production of large, high quality fruit and encourages blooming. The largest berries are produced on the most vigorous wood, so a good supply of strong, one-year-old wood is desirable. Pruning new bushes is recommended only to remove any dead or dying branches. After the fifth year, prune bushes annually. Keep the bush fairly open by cutting out weak and old stems that no longer produce strong wood at ground level. Keep 4-6 vigorous older stems and 1-2 strong new shoots per mature bush. The new shoots will eventually replace the older stems. Try to avoid cutting off the tops of the shoots because they have the maximum number of flower buds; only cut these if damaged.
  • Monitor for pests and diseases Honeyberries are remarkably disease resistant. Check with your local Cooperative Extension Service for pest controls recommended for your area.
  • Mulch after the ground freezes in fall to prevent root damage from alternating freezing and thawing.

Growing tips

Harvest and Preserving Tips

  • Cover bushes with bird netting as fruit ripens. Netting should not touch the berries.
  • Pick promptly to avoid insects.
  • Harvest the berries only. Berries are easily picked from the plant when ripe. If the berries are difficult to remove from the plant it is not ripe yet. Berries can be handpicked or spread a tarp under the plants and carefully shake the plant and the ripe fruit will fall into the tarp. Be careful when handling ripe fruit as they are soft and juicy.
  • Cool fruit promptly after harvesting and store between 32 - 40 degrees F.
  • Honeyberries freeze well for later use. Freeze them in a single layer on a cookie sheet, and when they are frozen you can keep them frozen in zip lock bags.

Common Pests and Problems

Botrytis: This fungus causes a grey mold on flowers, leaves, stems and buds. It thrives in cool wet weather conditions. Burpee Recommends: Remove affected plant parts, avoid watering at night and getting water on the plant when watering. Make sure plants have good air circulation. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for fungicide recommendations.

Downy Mildew: This fungus causes whitish grey patches on the undersides and eventually both sides of the leaves. Burpee Recommends: Avoid overhead watering. Provide adequate air circulation; do not overcrowd plants. Do not work around plants when they are wet. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for fungicide recommendations.

Leaf Blights: This causes tan spotting on the foliage and causes plants to lose vigor. Burpee Recommends: Rotate crops. Check with your Cooperative Extension Service for fungicide recommendations.

Powdery Mildew: This occurs on the top of the leaves in humid weather conditions. The leaves appear to have a whitish or greyish surface and may curl. Burpee Recommends:  Avoid powdery mildew by providing good air circulation for the plants by good spacing and pruning. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for fungicide recommendations.

Rust: A number of fungus diseases cause rust colored spots on foliage and stalks. Burpee Recommends: Remove infected parts of the plant. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for recommendations.

Common Pest and Cultural Problems

Aphids: Greenish, red, black or peach colored sucking insects that can spread disease as they feed on the undersides of leaves. They leave a sticky residue on foliage that attracts ants. Burpee Recommends: Introduce or attract natural predators into your garden such as lady beetles and wasps who feed on aphids. You can also wash them off with a strong spray, or use an insecticidal soap.

Mealybugs: Mealybugs are 1/8 to ¼ inch long flat wingless insects that secrete a white powder that forms a waxy shell that protects them. They form cottony looking masses on stems, branches and leaves. They suck the juices from leaves and stems and cause weak growth. They also attract ants with the honeydew they excrete, and the honeydew can grow a black sooty mold on it as well. Burpee Recommends: Wash affected plant parts and try to rub the bugs off. They may also be controlled by predator insects such as lacewings, ladybugs and parasitic wasps. Check with your Cooperative Extension Service for pesticide recommendations.

Spider Mites: These tiny spider-like pests are about the size of a grain of pepper. They may be red, black, brown or yellow. They suck on the plant juices removing chlorophyll and injecting toxins which cause white dots on the foliage. There is often webbing visible on the plant. They cause the foliage to turn yellow and become dry and stippled. They multiply quickly and thrive in dry conditions. Burpee Recommends: Spider mites may be controlled with a forceful spray every other day. Try hot pepper wax or insecticidal soap. Check with your Cooperative Extension Service for miticide recommendations.

Thrips: Thrips are tiny needle-thin insects that are black or straw colored. They suck the juices of plants and attack flower petals, leaves and stems. The plant will have a stippling, discolored flecking or silvering of the leaf surface. Thrips can spread many diseases from plant to plant. Burpee Recommends: Many thrips may be repelled by sheets of aluminum foil spread between rows of plants. Remove weeds from the bed and remove debris from the bed after frost. Check with your Cooperative Extension Service for pest controls.

Whitefly: These are small white flying insects that often rise up in a cloud when plants are disturbed or brushed against. Burpee Recommends: They are difficult to control without chemicals. Try hot pepper wax or insecticidal soap. Check with your Cooperative Extension Service for pesticide recommendations.

FAQ

When will I get fruit? You should begin to get berries the second year after planting. If your plants bloom the first year, it is best to remove the flowers to keep the strength in the plant.

When do honeyberries produce fruit? Honeyberries produce late spring to early summer about two weeks before strawberries.

Do I need two different varieties to get fruit? Yes, honeyberries need two different varieties to produce fruit. Burpee sells these as a collection.

Do honeyberries have a fall color? Yes, honeyberries have a good gold to yellow fall color and are a great addition to the edible landscape.

My honeyberries are in bloom and I am expecting a frost what should I do? Honeyberry flowers will tolerate light frost, but if you are expecting a hard frost and the flowers are open you may want to cover them.

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