I love all things gardening! Because of that, I am constantly on the lookout for specialty items for my garden. From purple carrots to crimson red rhubarb to pink blueberries, I love trying new varieties and cultivars of plants. Today I wanted to talk about honeyberries (also known as Haskap berries). My sister bought me two honeyberry bushes when I moved to California. Honestly, while the bushes grew in California, they didn’t thrive. I only got a few berries each season because it was just too hot. While I grew them in large pots and kept them in the shade, they still didn’t produce more than a few berries each year. When I moved to colder Utah, I brought my honeyberry bushes with me. This spring I actually got to enjoy a honeyberry harvest! You, too, can learn how to grow honeyberries in your garden. It’s easy and FUN!
Growing honeyberries (Haskap) at home is beautiful and rewarding!
The first thing I love about the honeyberry bush is how beautiful it is. This bush leafs out early in the spring and not only provides food, but is also a beautiful (and edible) landscape bush. The leaves fall off in the winter, but the honeyberry bush maintains a nice structure and has a pretty red bark. I currently have my bushes growing in pots, however, once I find the right location I am planning on putting them into the ground so that they can grow even larger.
Planting Honeyberries – Choosing a Location
Honeyberries prefer full sun if you are in a Northern climate (zones 2-4), but require partial afternoon shade in hotter zones. Keep this in mind as you choose a planting location for your honeyberry bushes. The plants can grow up to 4′-6′ tall and can spread up to 4′-6′ wide. They are fairly tolerant of most soil conditions, however, they prefer a well draining clay soil and a pH between 5-8. Because honeyberries are more forgiving, they are a great alternative to blueberry bushes in areas where blueberries are hard to grow. Here is a planting guide for the best way to plant your honeyberries (Haskap).
Selecting the Right Honeyberry Cultivars
In addition to choosing the right location, you need to choose the right bushes for your area. The honeyberry bush has lovely white flowers that are actually edible. If pollinated, these flowers will each produce a honeyberry. However, honeyberries (Haskap) are not self pollinating. You will need to buy another bush to so that they can pollinate each other. Because of this, it is important to choose two different cultivars that flower around the same time.
Keep in mind that if you are in an area that has a late spring frost or a warmer climate, you will need to choose a mid-late blooming honeyberry cultivar. This will help ensure that the bees will be present to pollinate your bushes. Here is a list of early blooming, mid blooming, and late blooming honeyberry cultivars that will pollinate each other:
Please note that in warmer zones, early bloomers may break dormancy during a winter warm-up, and suffer from subsequent hard freezes, whereas late bloomers will bide their time until spring truly arrives. That is why late bloomers are recommended for zones 6-9.
Caring for your honeyberry plants
Honeyberry (Haskap) plants are fairly easy to care for when given the right conditions. They only need a top dressing of composted manure in the early spring for their fertilizer. Watering will greatly depend upon your planting location. If you have your honeyberry bushes in pots, then they will need to have adequate moisture, however, you need to let the soil dry out between watering. This will help prevent root rot. If they are in the ground, they will need about a gallon of water every 4-5 days when they are first planted. This will help establish deeper roots. Once the plant is established, they require roughly 1″-2″ of water weekly (including any rainfall). Be careful to check the moisture levels in the soil to make sure you are not watering too much. Honeyberries don’t like to have saturated roots.
In most climates, honeyberries are the first berries of the season to ripen. I love this feature! While my blackberries, boysenberries, and raspberries are still in the flowering stage, I have already harvested, canned, and eaten my honeyberries. I love having fruit this early in the season!
Many honeyberry cultivars are tart. This makes amazing jams and syrups, but is not the best for fresh eating. To get the sweetest berry possible, you will want to wait 2-3 weeks after the berries turn blue before harvesting them. Since the honeyberries will be on the bushes for several weeks, bird netting is essential to protect your crop. Once the berries are ripe, simply pick them off and bring them inside. They will store for a few days in the fridge but will need to be used soon after harvesting.
Storing and Cooking with Honeyberries
There are several ways to store honeyberries. One way to store them is in the freezer. Since the skins are thin, if you freeze the berries they will burst when thawed. This is not a problem in smoothies, juicing, or in baking, but just be aware in case you wanted to put the frozen berries in a fruit salad or on cereal.
Another way to preserve honeyberries is to make jam or syrup with them. Check out my post on how to make honeyberry jam. It is SO delicious! The flavor of honeyberries is so complex that it made a really interesting and tasty jam.
In addition to smoothies and jams, another way to use your honeyberries is to bake with them! Try adding honeyberries to this amazing Peach and Boysenberry Crisp recipe! Or make honeyberry pie, Haskap ice cream, honeyberry kombucha, muffins, or bread! The possibilities are endless! Here is a collection of honeyberry recipes that I can’t wait to try out!
Haskap Berry Hand Pies & A Long Table Dinner, imagine a sunny warm day and time in the countryside picking and learning about a berry you knew very little about and falling in love with it so much that a beautiful juicy tender flaky hand pie is made with the same passion and enthusiasm that the grower has for this unusual but very tasty berry.
Haskap berries are tart fruits that thrive in cold northern climates. Similar to blueberries, they’re perfect for homemade haskap ice cream! Haskap berries, or honeyberries as they’re known by those trying to market them, are a tart fruit. Some describe them as downright sour, but they’re sweet enough to hold the attention of my 2 and 4-year-olds.
We’re in full blown mocktail mode over here! This honey berry kombucha smash is my new favorite thing.
Soft and crumbly muffins that are bursting with fruit and a delicate honey flavour. The addition of the crumble adds a slight crunch and hint of cinnamon. Enjoy fresh out of the oven with a knob of butter or add to lunchboxes for a healthy & filling treat
Orange, honeyberry & white chocolate bread – Breakfasts & Snacks – Julie DesGroseilliers Recipes – Les Artisans des Saveurs
What could be better than honeyberries and white chocolate baked in a delectable bread?
Honeyberries, white chocolate, and coconut pair together to make these amazing muffins!
America’s farmer owned brands. This honey-infused smoothie is the perfect way to start your day or refresh after a work-out or even enjoy as a midnight snack.
Once you harvest your honeyberries, experiment with different recipes until you find your favorite ones! Who knows, perhaps one day the honeyberry will be the new blueberry!
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