Need Info about Honeyberry

mulchwoman(metuchen,nj)March 6, 2008

I would like to know if anyone has grown or is growing honeyberry shrubs. There's some conflicting info out there about fruit quality, quantity, etc.

I ordered 2 and now am wondering if I made a mistake.

Any help would be most appreciated. There were some posts on edible landscape, but they were pretty old.

Thanks in advance.


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I bought 2 from Raintree nursery about 5 or 6 years ago. They're fantastic, and I want to plant about 8 or 10 more.

The berries are very similar to blueberries, but have a touch of "pucker power" to them when raw, I guess it's more appropriate to describe it as a slight astringency, rather than just being sour. They're still good to eat fresh. I've put them on 'Blueberry Morning' cereal, and that was a good combination. They're excellent for cooking -- anything you can do with blueberries you can do with these.

Last year, for the first time, I lost my crop to birds, other than a handful. Until then, I guess they didn't know what they were, and left them alone. Last year, the robins figured it out and stripped my 2 bushes in a day. This year, they're getting covered for sure.

A honeyberry pie has become a real tradition in my house already. This year, I think I'm going to try honeyberry and rhubarb as well.

As far as yields, it's less than blueberries, I think, but still pretty good. My 2 bushes are still only about 4 feet tall, and they should get bigger. I got probably 8 quarts off of them 2 years ago. Last year, I would probably have gotten about half that, since they were just about ready to bloom when that hard April record freeze hit, and it did zap the more open flowers. I think the lower yield is more than compensated by the fact they are the first fruit to ripen, even before strawberries.

My opinion is , "Oh, YUM!"

    Bookmark   March 7, 2008 at 7:40AM
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I have 4 plants and have a few more comming this year. I agree with dennimni about them . They are pretty great fruit and make awesome muffins. They come in early spring before everything else and at the same time the Rhubarb is starting to be ready to pick. I will have to try that combo out too. I hang refective flagging tape on everything during or just after flower and that keep the birds out of them. I have had my plants for a few years now and got them on a whim to see what it was like. They thrive in our cold weather up here in NY/VT area. So late winters and frost doesnt really affect them at all. Only thing I have had bother them is jap. beetles. But around here they bother everything. So I just spray them with some Organic Pyola Spay and that usually does the trick. I think you will like your honeyberry bushes once you get them in and going. They are definently puckery if you eat them fresh but if you let them bush ripen to almost falling off they are super sweet. But once you pick them and cook them they sweeten up. So you can pick them anytime they are blue colored.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2008 at 4:41PM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

I love them too!..and the birds!
You can air layer them easaly, see link

Here is a link that might be useful: Honeyberry

    Bookmark   March 8, 2008 at 7:06PM
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chills71(Zone 6b Mi)

denninmi....I hope you're going to take cuttings rather than buy 8-10 more. lol

Have you read anything about the newer varieties of them that have been developed by the Univ of Sask? I swear if they were available here I would have ordered them for this year. I'd even be half tempted to find someone in Alberta (near DNA Gardens) to ship them to me unmarked if they were released to the general public this year.

Seriously though, if we do end up meeting eachother this summer I'm going to try and bum a couple cuttings off of ya!

I'm sure I have something you're not growing....


    Bookmark   March 8, 2008 at 7:57PM
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There are some fascinating articles by the University of Saskatchewan here:

In particular, here's an article about varieties that were just released in 2007:

The varieties 'Borealis' and 'Tundra' sound great, but they need something else to pollinate them. (They're closely related, so they can't pollinate each other.)

They're supposedly much tastier than the varieties previously available, so of course I want to plant them, but it seems that the only nurseries selling them are in Canada and don't ship to the US:

Or, I could try to be patient, as I'm sure even better varieties will be out in a few years. Bob Bors is doing some fascinating breeding work up there in Saskatchewan, and is even hiking through the wilderness looking for new wild plants to incorporate into his breeding program, so who knows what he'll come up with next?

By the way, I would not want to bum a cutting off someone without paying the proper royalty to the plant breeder. If you read about the work they're doing, you'll realize how important it is to keep funding it.

I'd be happy to bum a cutting off someone, and then send the U of S a royalty check.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2008 at 5:07PM
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I just picked my honeyberries today. You have to be quick as the robins like them as much as I do. I planted mine 4 years ago and this year is the first year that there were many berries.My wife who works at a green house came home with two more bushes last year not knowing that I had planted the others. Now have 4 bushes. I'm going to make pie as we use them like blue berries. Now if the grandchildern come they may end up on or in waffles as well.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2010 at 12:44AM
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I hope that more of the folks who have had these berries for a few years can post recent experiences and pictures. I have young Borealis, Aurora, Tundra, Indigo Gem and Kalinka plants growing about 45 miles North of Green Bay, WI. The Borealis are from last year (fall planting) and they and this year's spring Tundra plant are just starting to flower. I found our that deer or rabbits liked the taste of young leaves so I had to build screens for the young plants this year using rabbit fencing and they are growing quite well.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 1:31PM
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Bradybb WA-Zone8

I bought a pair from Dr.Maxine Thompson at the Home Orchard Society's,"All About Fruit" show in Canby,Oregon a few years ago.She had a bowl of jam and some crackers,which sold me.
They are now approaching 4-5 feet tall and getting some berries,but nothing like denni had written about above.
Mine are the Japanese Haskap type.Dr.Thompson said they are better suited for the NW environment than the Russian ones.
I think the flavor improves with age of the plants. Brady

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 2:30PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

You can get 'Borealis' and 'Tundra' here in the USA.
Honeyberries USA I think has both. Plus other good ones.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 4:10PM
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Bradybb WA-Zone8

Yes Drew,they are available.I contacted Honeyberry USA,about the compatibility with mine and was told Borealis or Tundra probably won't make a good match,due to different flowering times.I may get them sometime with an additional pollinator,when I can find room.
They did say they are working with Dr.Thompson in developing varieties. Brady

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 4:37PM
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I bought 3 plants from Honeyberries USA a couple years ago.Tundra,Berryblue,and Borealis.They are blooming for the first time now.The plants are 2-3 feet high and 3 feet across.When will they have to be covered to keep the birds from getting them?

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 8:46PM
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I ordered two combos from stark bros last fall (blue moon/blue velvet and cinderella/borealis, 1 gallon size). $15 each and didn't seem that big at the time. All are doing well in their first spring and I'll have fruit from three of them. Ordered blue mist, blue pacific, kamchakta and hoikkado from One Green World this spring. Some of them might also have fruit this spring.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 10:38PM
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Bradybb WA-Zone8

The birds seem to like ripe fruit.So I'd protect them before they change to their final color.Brady

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 10:41PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Berries unlimited has some unique cultivars also that might be useful in pollination?

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 12:16AM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

With all these new names,..I'll bet, a bunch of nurseries want to cash in on this hot item and make up new names.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 1:02AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

That could be true for Berries Unlimited, All are from Russian cultivars.. They are expensive but use tissue culture to propagate the berries they sell. Always nice to get certified virus free berry plants, especially raspberries.
The honeyberries are from tissue culture and are from the Russian program. As is Tundra and Borealis.. Berries Unlimited sells them too.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 1:55PM
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Have Blue Moon + Blue Velvet. Not flowering yet. Didn't like dry soil last summer (almost died). Wet spring + heavy chip mulch, they're happy this year. Have squirrels, not hopeful of getting fruit. But will pick gallons of serviceberries from local shopping mall parking lots, instead.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 5:54PM
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When do yours ripen? I have 5 varieties from Dr. Thompson and 2 at another location from one of the NW nurseries.

I've found that they are MUCH better weeks later compared to when they first turn blue. But by the time they are at their best I'm also getting raspberries.

I suspect the later blooming varieties, including the haskaps, are also later ripening.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2014 at 1:22AM
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Bradybb WA-Zone8

They are ripening right now,about when the Strawberries do.I've tried a few.Pretty good.I will barely touch them and if they fall off,those are the ones I take.
I have and am presently propagating them.They do so very easily. Brady

    Bookmark   May 28, 2014 at 1:46AM
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The ones we grew here could not take the sun so like pawpaws, currants, and gooseberries they need to be grown in the shade. Clove currants are the exception and love full sun.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2014 at 7:33AM
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Noogy(6 sw mi)

It's my understanding that tundra and borealis are from U of saskachewan. Yes, they use russian stock in their breeding, but also canadian and Japanese.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2014 at 9:25AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Yes, Noogy, but Berries Unlimited cultivars are also from Russian stock, and somehow the Japanese are involved too.
BU plan to release cultivars as they develop them.
BU described Tundra and Borealis as Russian, but your description may be a lot more accurate. BU say released through U of S, nothing about the university developing them.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2014 at 9:37AM
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Noogy(6 sw mi)

I want many more varieties, especially some later ones. BU has some very interesting HB varieties as well as rubrus hybrids. Check out this link

    Bookmark   May 28, 2014 at 1:52PM
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Drew - All of the U of sask haskap are russian japanese and canadian crosses. The link to the Germplasm collected is in the url below

Here is a link that might be useful: germplasm

    Bookmark   May 30, 2014 at 8:42AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Thanks for the info, U of Sask. always does good work for sure. MSU works with them on tart cheries. MSU has released it's own line of tart cherries too. More I suspect in the future.
Speaking if Rubus hybrids. I have a thimbleberry-raspberry cross. It's starting to grow. This is a chance cross from a grower's garden, not an item that is sold.

This post was edited by Drew51 on Sat, Jun 21, 14 at 23:18

    Bookmark   May 30, 2014 at 9:08AM
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A few weeks ago, I got to sample some berries from 3 of the 4 varieties I planted in the fall: (blue moon,blue velvet, cinderella, borealis). This was the first time I've tried honeyberries, so I thought I'd report to others who are wondering about their taste. I really liked them; I think they are better than an average store bought blueberry but not as sweet as the best homegrown blueberries. Also, they were very juicy. I was not disappointed at all. Mine are grown in full sun and I left them on the bush for maybe three days after they turned blue. I held out a few days longer for one, and it was better than the others. I think they were good enough that I'm going to plant a row or two of them this fall.

This post was edited by Ztom on Sat, Jun 21, 14 at 22:51

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 10:46PM
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We are working on plans to begin holding regular open farm gate native plant seminars. I would love any suggestions for plants that other members think might be good choices. We raise pastured meats and dairy, and a few fibercritters on our little homestead. Plants we select must be nontoxic for the livestock or fit into our little orchard plot. If you have honeyberries or any other native shrubs or berry plants you think would work we would be happy to try some of your cuttings or clippings and adding them to our educational programs.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2014 at 10:25AM
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honeyberry isn't native

    Bookmark   October 25, 2014 at 11:00AM
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I'm going to try some more this year in a shady location that gets plenty of water. The 100+ degree days they were not able to handle out in the open.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2014 at 8:31AM
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