Plant honeyberries — also known as haskap berry — if you love blueberries but live in a climate too cold to grow them. With a similar taste, but an oblong shape, honeyberries are a hardy plant that can withstand temperatures in the below zero range. They can be used deliciously in jams, baked goods, and as juice just like any other berry! Perfect for a garden in the cold north so you can rely on sweet berries for eating fresh or canning.
All About Haskap Berry
Have you always wanted to grow blueberries, but don’t have the right kind of soil or environmental conditions for them to thrive?
If so, there’s an easy-to-grow alternative—haskap berry. Haskap berries look like long blueberries and taste a little like them, too. The haskap plant (Lonicera caerulea) is actually a relative of the familiar ornamental flowering honeysuckle vine but grows edible berries that are enjoyed like blueberries.
Whether you call them haskap shrubs, honeyberries, or blue honeysuckle, this sweet berry is a cold hardy perennial that’s known for being cold-weather tolerant and adaptable to different kinds of growing environments.
These tough shrubs can take temperatures that dip into negative numbers during winter and can even take cold temperatures when in full bloom. Most varieties are rated for USDA hardiness zones 3-8.
Haskaps produce small white flowers in early spring that turn into blue fruits for picking in summer. Shrubs grow to 3-6 feet tall and about as wide. When selecting a planting site, be sure to select an area where there’s room for several shrubs to grow for many years and where fruits are accessible to make harvesting easier.
An important point about honeyberries is to be sure to plant two or more varieties with similar bloom times to ensure pollination. Keep in mind it may take several seasons to produce large crops of fruit.
The dark purple berries are packed with vitamins and minerals, making them a nutritionally beneficial choice as well. And they’re delicious for fresh eating!
Varieties for Home Gardens
The two main types of haskaps are Russian and Japanese. Read plant descriptions carefully to make sure you’re selecting the best cultivars for your region.
Russian-type haskaps are cultivars from cold weather areas and have varying degrees of sweetness and fruit size. These cultivars typically bloom earlier in the season than other types. The early bloom time may be an issue in areas where bees aren’t active, so pollination may be hit or miss.
Japanese varieties have a later bloom time than Russian-type cultivars. Japanese-type cultivars may be a better choice for some regions with cold spring weather. These honeyberries have larger and rounder fruits, too.
Here are some popular honeyberry cultivars that grow 3-5 feet tall in hardiness zones 3-8:
Borealis is a mid-season blooming honeyberry that grows especially sweet fruits. Plant this variety for a longer season of berries.
Tundra is an early blooming variety that usually produces some of the first fruits of the season that are firm, but still sweet.
Aurora is another early blooming, productive haskap berry with good flavor and less acidity than some cultivars.
Blue Velvet is a high-yielding honeyberry that grows very large blue berries and is especially tolerant to cold weather.
Honey Bee grows berries that are a little more tart than some honeyberries, but this cultivar is very productive.
Growing Haskap Berries
Select a sunny to partial shade spot. Bushes will benefit from some shade as protection from the hot afternoon sun. Be sure to allow enough space for honeyberry shrubs to grow and spread out.
Contributed by Jodi Torpey