10 May BERRY-LICIOUS: 5 UNIQUE BERRIES TO GROW
We all have our go-to berries like blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries — and some of you adventuresome gardeners even grow your own. But if you really want to take a step outside the lines and try something new, have I got some berry recommendations for you! Here are 5 unique berries to grow in your garden this year — which one will you choose?
- Lingonberries: (Vaccinium vitis-idaea) Anyone who’s ever shopped at an Ikea store knows how delicious lingonberry jam is, right? So why not make your own? This low-growing shrub is cold-hardy and offers shiny green leaves with bright red berries that produce a summer and late fall crop. Plant and grow them similar to blueberries in moist, slightly acidic soil with a bit of light shade, and use them in jams, jellies, and wine. USDA Zones 2-7.
- Currants: (Ribes spp.) Closely related to gooseberries, currants are a bit more friendly because the bushes don’t have prickly spines. Most currents are what is called “self sterile,” so you’ll need two or more different varieties to get a decent crop. Black or red currants are ideal for jams, jellies, and wine, with albino varieties (pink or white) that are best enjoyed straight off the bush. USDA Zone 3+.
- Mulberry: (Morus spp.) This tried-and-true berry is juicy and tart, with additional sweetness as the berry ripens. Use them the same way you would blueberries or raspberries, but once they are harvested, deal with them quickly as they tend to not keep well. The darker colored varieties tend to stain the bottoms of shoes, so be sure you’re not tracking in any stepped-upon fruit into your home! USDA Zones 4-8.
- Chokeberry: (Aronia spp.) This native sun-loving North American plant has white springtime flowers and dark-colored berries that ripen in both summer and fall. The berries are red, purple, or black (each one is a slightly different species) and are juicy and tart with excellent antioxidant values. They make tasty jams and jellies provided a generous amount of sugar is added to offset the tartness. USDA Zones 3-8.
- Huckleberry: (Vaccinium ovatum) This old-fashioned berry sounds so quaint that it makes me want to grow them just to say I made my own huckleberry pie. This evergreen shrub grows best in a moist, partially shaded spot with regular water — but as it can be tricky to grow them from seed, look for a nursery-grown plant instead. If grown in the sun, the bush typically stays about 3’ tall, but in the shade, watch out! The huckleberry can grow up to 10’ tall, so be sure to give it room. The dark bluish-purple berries are among the last to ripen in the fall. USDA Zones 7-9.