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Plant and grow Haskap Berries – the earliest bearing berries of the season.
Haskap berries are becoming a more well known berry to grow in the family garden. This fruiting shrub is quite perfect for northern gardens. I wanted to share some tips to help you grow the best haskap berries possible.
Haskap berries are becoming more popular to grow in the United States and all over North America, but they have been well-known and grown in Canada for decades. They’re the perfect fruiting bush to plant in your home garden, as they’re naturally disease and pest resistant.
Other names for these delicious berries are honeyberry and edible blue honeysuckle. Some people grow these berries on a large scale and use them for commercial sales. They would be a great option for farm sales or selling at the farmers markets.
How to Grow Haskap Berries
Here are some helpful tips and tricks to grow haskap berries at home. These delicious berries are best used for fresh eating, smoothies, adding to a dish of ice cream, sauces, making juices and even wine! It’s a bonus that they store well in the freezer to use for later baking into loafs, muffins, ice creams, smoothies, or fruit crisps.
They taste like a blueberry, but…not quite.
General Tips for Growing Haskap Plants
- You need to plant two different varieties for pollination.
- Haskap cultivars are fast growing and can reach 8 feet in height. You will find the plant needs some pruning after a couple of years. For Haskap berry pruning tips, here’s an article on pruning shrubs and fruit trees.
- As with any garden plant, weeds will compete for nutrients and water and should be managed accordingly.
- The plants may produce a handful or two of fruit in the second year.
- You’ll want to use well aged manure (or compost) once per year – apply a topdressing at the base of the plant in spring.
- You can also use a balanced organic fertilizer. Apply it in early spring or fall to ensure your fruiting shrubs continue to grow healthy.
- Haskap shrubs a pretty plant with lovely foliage! Find a way to incorporate them into your flower gardens.
- Birds are attracted to the berries, so some garden netting can help protect your crop.
Where do Haskap Berry Plants Grow?
The Haskap berry growing zone is wide – they can bloom in Zones 2 – 9. These native shrubs can be found in northern boreal forests in Canada, Asia, Japan and throughout North America and Europe.
But, they do their very best in a climate where there is a cold winter. Many shrubs do best where there is a true real cold season; it’s part of the dormancy cycle.
If these bushes can’t be found in the wild near you, that’s ok! You can buy small shrubs to plant in your own garden or front yard. The University of Saskatchewan started a breeding program and you can purchase plants through them.
We are in Zone 3 and friends here have many Haskap bushes growing in their garden. At times, we get winter temperatures of -30C and these plants are that cold hardy.
I am finding that these Haskap plants are hardier than blueberry plants – I have tried several times to grow blueberries here and finally gave up.
When and Where to Plant Haskap Berries
It’s best to plant your haskap plants in a somewhat sheltered area, where they are protected from heavy wind. These blue berries will need full to partial sunlight for maximum harvest. They very much prefer full sun, so don’t be afraid to put them right out in the open.
Include them planted throughout a large flowerbed; they will do great planted at the back with shorter shrubs and flowers in front of them.
Plant your berry bushes in a well prepared bed that includes plenty of well aged compost or manure. Add lots of compost to the hole you dig. You’ll need to have a well-drained but nutrient-rich soil for your bushes.
They do best growing in a soil that has a pH of 5 -8.5. Think about the type of soil blueberry plants like – it is the same for these haskap berries. When in doubt, test your soil using one of these soil test kits.
Plant them 4 – 6 feet apart and let your shrub just settle in the first year. Make sure to water the hole before planting and water again after filling in the hole. Be sure to water regularly for the first while. Consistent watering will go a long ways to helping your plants get established.
Pollination and Flowering
Be sure to plant two varieties of haskap berries as this is a plant that needs cross pollination in order to set fruit. Just ask at the nursery and they will be able to help.
It’s recommended that you plant the two varieties of haskap shrubs in close range to each other to maximize your chances of an ample harvest. Our three shrubs are planted about 5 feet away from each other.
This is a good distance as it takes into account the size of the Haskap plant when it is full grown.
Flowering happens in early spring (mid April or so in our gardening zone); it’s not long till we see the prettiest small yellow flowers. The blooms hang in clusters. And not long after that, then we see the bees!
The honey bee loves Haskap berry bushes and some afternoons our bushes are loaded with bees.
Quite a few of the delicate flowers hide right underneath the leaves, which of course is right where we will be picking berries from soon. We ended up harvesting a handful of berries for each of us to enjoy.
Not bad for the second year and it will be a much better berry harvest next year.
Harvesting Haskap Berries
How long before haskap berry plants produce berries?
When it comes to starting your haskap berry plants, you need to remember that you won’t reap a harvest for about 3 years. That’s all the more reason to be sure and get some planted as soon as you possibly can, so you can maximize yields.
You may be able to find three year old plants at the nursery – you will pay a bit more but you will enjoy the Haskap berries sooner.
Within a few years, the fruit production from 4 plants should enable you to have lots to eat fresh and even some for storing in the freezer.
Within 5-7 years your haskap berry plants will have reached maturity so that you can enjoy a plentiful harvest year after year.
Setting and Ripening Fruit
The berry shrubs tend to grow fruit early in the spring. Generally speaking, you’ll love having a berry harvest two weeks earlier than most other fruits. These berries are one of the first ready to pick in mid to late June.
You’ll notice that your haskap berries look ripe about 1-2 weeks before you can eat them. Just try one to see if the berries are ready. They will be nice and plump when they are ready to be picked.
Berries will ripen at different times so you should be able to get 3 or perhaps 4 pickings before they are all off the bush.
You’ll be able to harvest berries for 2-3 weeks out of the year, and many years the branches will be loaded with berries.
After picking the berries, the shrubs are a beautiful bush in your yard for the rest of the year. You can plant them at the back of your flower bed if you are short on planting space.
What do Haskap berries taste like?
Well, it’s a bit hard to describe. They are delicious that’s for sure.
They taste like a blueberry, but with blackberry and raspberry in there too. The berries are tart, kind of sour, yet sweet at the same time. They are sweeter than Saskatoon berries when eaten right off the bush.
Maybe it’s one of those berries you just have to taste – but I can tell you they are delicious. And they are fantastic for baking with.
Haskap berries are also a great source of vitamin C, potassium, and antioxidants. And as a fun fact, the word “haskap” is a Japanese word that translates roughly to ‘berry of long life and good vision.’ So there are lots of healthy benefits!
Are Haskap Berries Good for You?
They are like a superfruit! They are loaded with antioxidants, full of potassium and Vitamin C and other vitamins and minerals.
Can You Freeze Haskap Berries?
Yes, you can freeze Haskap berries – it’s very easy to do. Just spread washed and well drained berries onto a cookie sheet and make sure they are not touching each other.
Pop them in the freezer for a day or two. Then remove and use a spatula to loosen them from the cookie sheet. Transfer berries into a airtight container and return to the freezer.
As you need them, just shake out what you need and return the container or freezer bag to the freezer. Be sure to remove all the air out of the bag before returning to the freezer.
Where Can I Buy Haskap Plants?
I usually purchase my shrubs through T & T in Manitoba, as everything they sell can be grown in my garden zone (Zone 3). They have a set of 2 plants available:
Remember, you need to buy two varieties!
Haskap Berry Recipes
We especially love mixing Haskap berries with Rhubarb and making a fruit crisp. It’s healthier if we reduce the amount of sugar and we use whole wheat flour, plus of course lots of oats.
Fruit crisp makes for a fast easy breakfast or an afternoon snack.
We have also used our Honeyberries to include in our home made Bumbleberry wine – we find Haskap berries, Raspberries, Blueberries and Rhubarb together make a delicious red wine.
Here’s a recipe for Haskap wine if you would like to make some.
Enjoy this sweet berry in a variety of recipes!
Read More About Gardening
- Want to know the ONE trick to growing huge, juicy strawberries?
- Want to learn how to make Rhubarb wine?
- Looking for a super easy no cook Strawberry Jam? Here’s our recipe!
- Here’s how we make Saskatoon berry wine – mix with other berries if you like.
Want to find out which are The 5 Easiest Vegetables to Grow?
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published December 2020; latest update Nov 2022