Honeyberry shrubs provide a hardy, easily grown source of fresh fruit for gardeners in northern climates. This native shrub is a relative of honeysuckle found in the Pacific Northwest. Honeyberry produces sweet fruit similar in appearance to a blueberry and is a natural source of antioxidants and vitamin C. Its flavour ranges from sour to sweet.
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Honeyberry adopts three basic types of growth habit: spreading vines, a mounded form of growth and an upright bushy habit. It typically grows between 2 and 5 feet tall in its upright form. Plants growing in a mounded form spread outward to an average diameter of 6 feet. Fruit production begins within two years of planting for this fast-growing species. It is well adapted to a variety of growing conditions that include most types of soil and cold weather. Although honeyberry can tolerate an acidic soil pH of 3.9, it thrives in milder soils with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5.
Honeyberry is propagated using seeds and stem cuttings taken during its dormant period in the winter. Unlike some species, Honeyberry seeds do not require special treatment to germinate but need good drainage and regular access to water. Honeyberry prefers sites with full sun but grows best in partial shade in regions with hot summers. This hardy, cold-tolerant species grows in U.S. Department Agriculture hardiness zones 3 through 7.
Honeyberry shrubs rarely are affected by pests or diseases, but their fruits attract birds and other wildlife. Honeyberry shrubs that are producing fruit require bird netting and fencing to protect their bounties. Young plants are susceptible to damage from grazing deer. Pruning is required only for young plants between 3 and 5 years old with dead growth . Older plants require annual pruning in the early spring to remove dead or weak growth. Honeyberrys enduring drought conditions require regular watering to maintain moist soil. Spreading mulch around the base of the shrub will reduce the need to water the plant.
Honeyberry shrubs are capable of producing fruit only when their flowers are cross-pollinated. This process requires the presence of another honeyberry shrub. Cross-pollination can occur between any of the several varieties of this species. Known as Lonicera caerulea, there are three subspecies of honeyberry common to North America: kamtshatica, edulis, boczkarnikovae and altaica. Honeyberry tends to produce larger crops of fruit when it is cross-pollinated from several different subspecies.
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