Plant of the Week: Sugar Mountain Blue sweetberry honeysuckle

Edibles are hot, or so we're told. Consumers want to grow their own tomatoes and have fresh basil for their grilled pizzas. I can't blame them, but why should veggies and herbs get all the love?

Sugar Mountain® Blue sweetberry honeysuckle is an especially nice selection of Lonicera caerulea. It has big, juicy berries that are very tasty as a fresh crop or processed into jam. We've even been know to infuse vodka with them...

Our native Lonicera caerulea produces sweet, juicy berries that are somewhere between a raspberry and a blueberry in flavor. Maybe a little plum-like, too. Anyway, they're delicious. And easy to grow, too. Unlike blueberries, these tough plants do not need special soil. They are very hardy - going all the way into USDA Zone 3! Really, they grow sweetberries in Siberia.

They will grow in partial shade but like most fruit-bearing plants you will get better fruit set in full sun. Give them a couple years to establish, and then the fruit production is very reliable and easy, with berries typically appearing a little before strawberries come into season.

Lonicera caerulea is native to the boreal zones of North America, Europe, and Asia. It has been a popular fruit for centuries in Japan and parts of Eastern Europe and is now finally catching on here in North America.

Sugar Mountain Blue sweetberry honeysuckle forms a 5-6' shrub.
Sugar Mountain® Blue sweetberry honeysuckle will fruit without a nearby pollinator but you will get better fruit production when it is planted near one of the other Sugar Mountain® varieties. Balalaika™, Eisbär™, and Kalinka™ are all great choices.

What's with those names, you may ask? Well, Eisbär is German for polar bear - alluding to the wonderful hardiness of these plants. Balalaika and Kalinka are similarly cold-tolerant. A balalaika is a stringed instrument popular in Russia - check out this awesome Russian folk music group showing off two different sizes of balalaikas. Kalinka is a Russian folksong (horticultural trivia: kalinka is actually the common name for Viburnum opulus.) My point is that these are very cold-hardy plants that enable gardeners in northern climates to grow their own fruit!

Thanks to our grower Brian Maher for sharing that link of the balalaika trio with us. Brian's lovely wife is from St. Petersburg and our expert on all things Russian.

Plant of the Week is written by Jane Beggs-Joles

No comments:

Post a Comment