Thinking of growing some gorgeous honeyberries in your garden? Honeyberry plants are a fruit plant that are quickly becoming quite the trend.
Bearing nutritious and delicious fruits, Honeyberry plants can grow in most environments, even some colder climates which is unlike most fruit plants.
Here’s everything you’ll need to know to cultivate, plant, grow and harvest big, delicious honeyberries.
What are Honeyberries?
Although not a common cultivar, the honeyberry has grown tremendously in popularity over the last years.
This pretty little plant is directly related to honeysuckle, producing pretty, fragrant white flowers and big blue oblong berries.
Other names you may find the honeyberry (lanicera caerulea) under include:
- Blue Honeysuckle
- Haskap (as it’s traditionally named in Japan)
Frost-tolerant, and non-invasive, honeyberries are a great addition to any garden, and in the right conditions can produce a pretty hefty harvest.
Honeyberries find their roots in Easter Europe and Asia, with cultivars dating back to the 1700s found in both Russia and Japan.
Still, this is not a fruit you’ll necessarily find in your supermarket. As this fruit is rather delicate, it doesn’t transport well.
So, your ideal option is just to grow plenty of your own in your home garden.
How to Grow Honeyberries at Home
Before beginning your growing journey, it’s really important to make sure you pick the right spot and provide your plant with all the right elements to grow happy and healthy.
- Honeyberries grow best when they receive half-day sun and ideally, the morning sun.
- If you’re attempting to grow your honeyberry indoors, pick a spot that gets sun for at least ¾ of the day.
- Be sure to plant your honeyberries at least 1.5 meters apart from each other to give them adequate space to grow.
- It is super important to prepare your soil with added nutrients before planting.
- You’ll want to ensure well-draining soil which sits at a PH level of about 6.5.
- Turn the soil up to 6 to 12 inches deep. Ensure you’ve removed all debris from the soil.
- Add organic matter like compost, fertilizer or manure to the soil to help enrich it with additional nutrients.
Propagation is not easiest when it comes to honeyberries, so it’s recommended to buy a baby honeyberry and then plant it into your garden or pot to grow.
When it comes to actually planting honeyberries into a pot or into the ground, it is recommended to only plant your honeyberries in the springtime.
Once you’ve got the right spot and the right soil, it’s time to start planting:
- First, dig a hole that is approximately twice the size of the root ball.
- Place the root ball so it sits just under the level of the ground.
- Backfill with enriched soil until the entire root stock is covered and gently pat down to secure your plant.
- Water rigorously after planting.
Most importantly, it is absolutely recommended to plant at least two honeyberries as this will promote pollination.
How to take Care of Your Honeyberry Plant
Although it won’t need much maintenance, it is important to make sure your honeyberries receive the right care to begin flowering and fruiting.
Flowers will usually begin to bloom in late spring and fruits will begin to grow in early summer. However, new plants will only begin to bear fruit within their second year.
Be sure to keep up with regular watering, fertilizing and pruning to encourage a plentiful harvest.
Honeyberries will require a good amount of water, especially during the growing season. A solid, 1 to 2-inch soak per week should suffice.
Be careful, to not just spray the plant as wet leaves in cold conditions can promote fungal growth. A trickling system is recommended.
New plants really won’t need nor want much fertilizer, so for the first year you can definitely hold off on fertilization until the plant has fully leafed out.
From then on, a regular, balanced fertilizer applied every few months will suffice. A lack of flower or fruit production can be a sign of over fertilization, so less really is more.
As with most fruit-bearing plants, regular pruning is essential to stimulate growth and curb diseases.
A proper pruning in late winter or early spring will promote the growth of big berries. As the strongest stems will produce the best crop, be sure to cut back leaving only 4 to 6 rigorous growing stems.
Ensure you sanitize your shear blades between each pruning to avoid the spread of disease.
You’ll know it’s time to get harvesting once the inside of your fruit begins to turn blue. You can check this by simple picking off one berry and pulling it open. If you harvest your berries too soon, they will still be too tart.
Once ripe, be sure to harvest quickly to avoid any pests. Harvesting season is usually around late July to October, however this can change depending on climate.
Berries can either be plucked easily by hand or place a tarp on the ground and you should be able to shake the berries loose. Just ensure you’re not harming your plant or the root system.
Once harvested, the berries can either be stored at a temperature between 32-degrees to 40-degrees Fahrenheit. Alternatively, you can just freeze them for longer storage.
If your honeyberry tree is not producing flowers even after its second growing year, this may be due to a lack of pollinators. Strawberry plants are actually really great cross-pollinators for this cultivar.
What Do I Do with Honeyberries?
Once you’ve harvested your beautifully grown berries, the question remains what to now do with them.
Honeyberries are known to be great fresh or frozen and make a great addition to desserts, ice-creams and even preserves.
When it comes to what honeyberries taste like, people say their flavor resembles that of blueberry and raspberry with just a hint of black current.
Either way, they’re delicious and actually really nutritious.
Are Honeyberries Really Good for You?
According to some major studies, honeyberries actually carry a lot of good nutritious elements.
Not only are they full of anti-oxidants but the added fiber and Vitamin C can actually help you to boost your immune system.
Plus, the anthocyanins, which are the element causing the blue pigment, are known to improve eye health and contain anti-inflammatory properties.
That means, you can enjoy heaps of healthy berries without having to worry.
Potential Pest & Disease Problems
Just keep a close eye on any potential pests and treat them with a natural insecticide. Honeyberries are also quite disease resistant but in the wrong conditions will become susceptible to mildew, leaf blight and rust.
Luckily, most common diseases can easily be treated with a natural fungicide. The most pertinent issue that growers express is having to keep birds away from their berries.
Birds are quite the fans of honeyberries, so it is recommended to invest in some light covers for your trees to avoid issues.
Over-sun exposure can also cause leaf scalding. So, if your honeyberries are in a particularly sunny spot, definitely invest in some covers.
Wrapping Up Our Honeyberries Ultimate Grow and Care Guide
So, there you have it. Absolutely everything you’ll need to know to plant, grow and care for your honeyberries as well as what you’ll need to know when harvesting.
With the right sun exposure, well-draining soil and the occasional water, you can enjoy a plentiful harvest each summer.
If you’re concerned about pollination, consider adding a few strawberries to your garden mix, otherwise just plant plenty more honeyberries all over your garden.