19 Jan 5 FRUITING SHRUBS FOR THE ADVENTUROUS GARDENER
As a landscape designer, I’m always on the lookout for plants that do double-duty, particularly in small garden spaces. In my mind, every plant needs to have a purpose, a reason for being in the garden, and when a plant has more than one purpose — score! And this, my friends, is why fruiting shrubs are must-haves for your garden. They are not only beautiful but edible! Here are 5 fruiting shrubs for you to grow — the full range of fruiting shrubs is wide, but these 5 are relatively easy to locate and to grow.
5 FRUITING SHRUBS TO GROW IN YOUR GARDEN
Blueberries: (Vaccinium corymbosum) One of the most common of the edible shrubs, blueberries are also one of the most beautiful, tough, and hardy. Spring flowers offer sweet fragrance, while bright red leaves provide fall interest. They prefer acidic soils, will thrive in partial shade to full sun with some varieties hardy down to -35 degrees. You do need two different varieties in order to get the best pollination and fruit set, though — this one is not a “one and done” kind of plant. And it’s worth it to ask around about the best blueberry shrub for your area, because there are blueberries for nearly every type of garden and situation from heat tolerant, cold tolerant and dwarf varieties.
Currants: (Ribes spp.) There is so much to love about currents. The sweet-tart taste of currents makes them ideal for making jams and jellies, their flowers are attractive to hummingbirds, they’re hardy to -40 degrees, and they are self-fertile (one bush will do; no need for a pollinating partner). They also begin to bear fruit within a year or two of planting, unlike other fruiting shrubs. Give them full sun to part shade and decent, well-drained soil, and you’re good to go. One note: Black currents are a vector to white pine blister rust, so if you have white pines in your area, you may want to consult with your local county extension office before planting.
Rosehips: (Rosa spp.) did you know that roses have a fruit? Not all of them, but the wild roses that do have a fruit or “hip” that develops as the flower falls off, and it’s one of the most concentrated forms of Vitamin C available. This tart fruit is most commonly found in teas and liquors, but can also be used in jams and jellies. The fruit appears in early summer and continues to ripen through the season into the fall. Give your rose bush fertile, well-drained soil and as much sun as possible and you’ll be treated with enough rose hips to keep you Vitamin-C’d year-round.
Pineapple Guava: (Feijoa sellowiana) Gardeners in warmer climates (Zones 8-19) looking for a large shrub (up to 15 feet tall) with pineapple and strawberry flavored fruit are in luck! Pineapple guava is your new favorite plant. Give it full sun to partial shade, and rich, organic well-drained soil for it to produce this unusual fruit, and make sure your soil is acid or slightly alkaline.
Gooseberries: (Ribes spp.) Aside from a pruning every year or two, gooseberry shrubs are some of the easiest to grow. Similar to currants, they thrive in average garden soil with little extra care and have a fairly wide hardiness range (USDA Zones 3-8). They can be thorny, however, so look for thornless varieties to make pruning and harvesting a snap. Newer gooseberry varieties tend to be sweeter than the older ones, making snacking straight off the bush possible. Both European and American gooseberries are available, depending upon the trait you are looking for.