Ask a Question forum: Honeyberries

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Name: Meri Taylor
SD (Zone 4b)
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mnmat
Feb 23, 2017 6:00 PM CST
Does anyone grow Honeyberry bushes? I'm so tempted but I haven't heard much about them. They say they taste like Blueberries and are easy to grow. Blueberries need acidic soil and Honeyberries don't so that right there is an advantage if you like Blueberries and don't have acidic soil.

Anybody know anything about them?
Meri
Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN, USA zon
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Hybridizer
Seed Starter Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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Leftwood
Feb 24, 2017 5:39 PM CST
I have grown them for 17 years. To me, they taste like grapefruit and blueberries, together. Varieties can differ, but they are usually very tart. I have a theory about why they are called honeyberries. If you eat them raw, you will likely want to add sugar, but honestly, they tasted way better with honey.

Very easy to grow, very tolerant of all kinds of soil, even clay. Be sure to get two or more varieties that have comparable bloom times so they pollenate each other well. Since the species is so widespread in nature, certain varieties bloom so early that they are done by the time the late blooming varieties bloom and they could not pollenate the later blooming types for fruit production.

Birds love them, and especially since the fruit ripens so incredibly early (June 1 here) when there are no other fruits, you will need to cover them with bird netting to harvest the berries. The good thing is just one or two pickings and your done for the season. A more important reason to net them is that they will spread by seed in your garden and in the wild in certain regions. They will in the Minneapolis area, and a Duluth, MN airport field is overrun by them. Just watch carefully, and if you move or are no longer enamored with them, be sure they are dead so they will not become invasive.
Name: Meri Taylor
SD (Zone 4b)
Image
mnmat
Feb 25, 2017 12:38 PM CST
Thanks Rick!

I just moved here to SD 2 years ago. I lived in Brainerd for the last 20.

Would they work as a privacy hedge along the alley? I have maybe 50' I want to cover.

Have you made Jam, jelly or pie with them? Or do you suggest eating fresh? You said they're kind of sour, too sour to eat fresh?

I have soil that is kind of loamy clay, not bad, but not great either. I would amend the soil before planting.

What kind of netting do you use? Do you have a frame for it or just lay it on the plants? So many questions!

Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!
Meri
Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN, USA zon
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Hybridizer
Seed Starter Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Image
Leftwood
Feb 25, 2017 3:54 PM CST
They would be great hedge plants, but it could be difficult to keep the birds out of that many. I use plastic bird netting, with about half inch squares. I learned early on that you have to close every possible entry point, and the best way is to drape the netting over the bushes and hold the edges of the netting to the ground with long pieces of wood, like 2 by 4 lumber. When I just used rocks here and there on the ground, sometimes robins would find a way in, and then they could not find their way out. But the smart catbirds would get in and they do remember how to get out. I had to sit and watch where they exited because I couldn't find any open spots. They actually lifted the netting between the rocks and slipped underneath!

The honey recommendation is if you eat them raw. Mine are some of the first varieties available in the USA, and I suspect more tart than the newer types. They are definitely more tart than the sour cherries trees that we can grow here (North Star and Meteor). They are fine for nibbling straight off the bush, but you wouldn't want to eat a handful at one time without some kind of added sweetness. If you make a jam, they have plenty of natural pectin. I like them best as a substitute for apples in apple brown betty.

Pay attention to the size of the bush if you decide on them. There are short and squat types and tall ones, too. And have a long term plan for them if you find they seed about. If you sell your house, the new owners won't be diligent with restricting their spread.

Name: Meri Taylor
SD (Zone 4b)
Image
mnmat
Feb 26, 2017 11:48 AM CST
Thank you for all the great info Rick!

I saw a photo of a line of H. bushes framed by posts with wires surrounding the top of the posts for the netting to slide over. It looked like it would be easy to work.

I found a bunch of recipes at honeyberryusa.com
Meri

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