Berry plants can add value and food

Small light pink flowers appear in spring and give way to blackish purple berries. The fresh fruit can be eaten and is used in jellies and other preserves. Local birds also find the fruit very tasty.

Four varieties of huckleberries can grow throughout the eastern and southeastern United States. Western huckleberries grow along the West Coast in coniferous forests.

Western huckleberry fruit and flowers look similar to high and low bush blueberries. While the western huckleberry is related to those blueberries, they produce single berries on new shoots and the blueberries produce on older plants and in greater quantity.

Huckleberries need moist, acidic soil. They prefer any sunlight but grow bigger, fuller plants in shaded areas.

If you live in USDA zones 7-9, which is recommended, western huckleberries usually flower between April and May. It thrives in environments similar to that of the mid-alpine region where it grows. Seeding, transplanting and rhizome cuttings are all methods of propagation for this plant.

It can be hard to transplant wild bushes because they lack centralized root symptoms. Transplants can be attempted in late fall through early winter. Before transplanting to the garden, huckleberries should be grown in a pot of peat moss based soil for 1-2 years.

Huckleberries can also grow from rhizome cuttings, not stem cuttings. In late winter or early spring, collect 4 inch long sections and bury them in sand filled flats. Rooting compound should not be used. The flats should be misted or remain covered with clear film to help keep moisture. When new shoots reach 1-2 inches, put them into gallon size pots with peat moss soil.

Care for these plants includes using 10-10-10 fertilizer, granular fertilizer or manure. Refrain from using fertilizer for weed and seed. Beginning in May- July, granular fertilizer can be used. Manure can be used anytime. As always, read and follow directions for other fertilizers.

Herbicides should not be used on western huckleberries. For weed control, use mulch or weed by hand.

Young plants do not need pruning because of their slow growing nature. Only dead or sick limbs should be pruned. For other blackberries and blueberries check out our online store.