Vaccinium ovatum 'Thunderbird'

Loretta NJ Z6October 27, 2004

I picked up a few of these very cheaply as I like broadleaf evergreens. They are marked cranberries but on research, seem to be huckleberries. Anybody grow these? I know they need acid soil and are better in the Northwest. I may not have enough acidity for them. What kind of habit do they have?

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Loretta NJ Z6

So no one here tried huckleberries in NJ?
I did find references for this plant - "Native to the Northwest, this is an excellent plant to naturalize in cool, moist, well draining areas. Withstands summer drought once established
Outstanding with its intense red-bronze new spring growth and profusion of pink streaked bright white flowers and tasty berries. Growth habit is upright to 6Â"

But can it take humidity! I suspect these will bite the dust.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2004 at 12:12AM
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jnarvaez(z6 NJ)

Well, I have tried black huckleberry (Gaylussacia baccata), and it is a dainty, pretty little shrub, but extremely slow growing--for me, anyway. Your Vaccinium ovatum sounds like an even tougher bet. Maybe if you have very sandy soil, but I suspect this is greenhouse material in these parts.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2004 at 10:35PM
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Loretta NJ Z6

Well, I did meet someone who specializes in fruit trees and such and he says yes to huckleberries in NJ. So we will see.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2005 at 11:30PM
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pontesmanny(z6/7 S NJ)

Hi Loretta

That is a plant I want to grow. They should be hardy to your area. Keep me posted.


    Bookmark   January 6, 2005 at 8:28PM
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robertbirder(z6b/7a DC)


It's even hotter and more humid here in DC, but the three Vaccinium ovatum huckleberries I bought 3 years ago have survived, and are indeed pretty in early spring with reddish growth. never seen a flower or berry though; they are in enough shade so they won't fry in summer, but maybe prevents flowering?

    Bookmark   February 21, 2005 at 12:19AM
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Loretta NJ Z6

Thanks for the input. If you don't mind me asking a few questions.... How old are your shrubs? How do you find their growth habit? Seems like they might be upright and narrow?
This site describes it as 3'x3' in sun but 8-10'h x 1-1.5' w in shade. That is a bit of difference.

Here is a link that might be useful: Vaccinium ovatum 'Thunderbird'

    Bookmark   February 22, 2005 at 9:59AM
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robertbirder(z6b/7a DC)


These shrubs are going into their fourth year here. they are slow-growing so it is hard to tell how upright they will be if they survive. They receive about 4 hrs/day of sun, perhaps not enough for flowers. They are not the "Thunderbird" cultivar, but ordinary species plants. as they are evergreen, I suspect that winter is more of a threat to them than summer.

How are yours doing?

    Bookmark   April 30, 2005 at 10:47PM
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Loretta NJ Z6

Hi robertbirder,
Out of three, one died off for unknown reasons before the winter started, one died way back but is growing from the base and another, the closest to the house, is leafing out halfway up the stems. Most if not all leaves winterburned. It was a fall planting so next year will be a better indicator. I haven't formed an opinion of them yet.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2005 at 1:39PM
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I was glad to see your posting on the vaccinum ovatum. I recently bought four of the evergreen type to replace four berberis thunbergii, that non-native, invasive "bad boy." I thought that the burgundy cast to the new-growth leaves coupled with the fact that it is evergreen could make it a promising substitute for the berberis. Since blueberries have done fairly well on my property, I remain hopeful about the huckleberries. Keep me posted.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2005 at 11:16AM
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