Fresh honeyberries! They look a bit like elongated blueberries, but they ripen quite a bit early than blueberries and have a more tangy flavor.
A not yet mature (2 ft tall) honeyberry plant growing in April, getting ready to start putting on fruit. Plants usually grow to about 3-6 ft tall.
Honeyberries (Lonicera caerulea), also known as haskaps, are edible honeysuckle plants native to Siberia and northern Japan. Unlike other non-native honeysuckles, honeyberries are non-invasive and pose no threat to native species. Extremely cold hardy and resistant to most pests and diseases, honeyberries are a great no-spray berry choice for our area. Berries are about a half inch to an inch in size and ripen fairly early in the year, starting at the same time as strawberries. The flavor of the berries varies from tart to sweet, depending on the cultivar. The taste is a little reminiscent of blueberries, but with more zing (and more antioxidants as well).
Due to their sub-arctic provenance, they benefit from partial shade in our climate, especially during the heat of the summer. In full sun, honeyberries will go into early dormancy in late summer, losing their leaves early.
Plants tolerate a wide range of soil conditions, including clay and heavy soil. Plants grow to a height of 3-8 ft depending on the cultivar. Space plants 3-5 ft apart and make sure to plant at least two cultivars for pollination. Plants are not self-fertile.
Plants are somewhat deer resistant, but only when established. Deer will often browse the tender leaves of young plants, so they may need deer protection while getting established. Birds do love the berries, though, so make sure to plant plenty of them so there are enough berries for everyone!
'Aurora' Honeyberry - Lonicera caerulea 'Aurora'
A University of Saskatchewan release from 2012, Aurora produces somewhat pear-shaped berries that have low acidity and therefore taste quite sweet. Plants have an upright and spreading habit. Ripens mid-season but blooms fairly late, making it a good pollenizer for the Boreal series.
'Boreal Beast' Honeyberry - Lonicera caerulea 'Boreal Beast'
A relatively new cultivar released from the University of Saskatchewan, Boreal Beast is one the best tasting honeyberries around, highly rated for both aroma and aftertaste. Ripens fairly late, after Boreal Blizzard and Aurora but before Boreal Beauty. Strong upright growth habit similar to Boreal Beauty.
'Boreal Beauty' Honeyberry - Lonicera caerulea 'Boreal Beauty'
Another relatively new cultivar from the University of Saskatchewan, Boreal Beauty ripens later than most honeyberry cultivars, extending the season of the crop. Bushes have a strong upright growth habit and produce heavy crops of large berries with excellent flavor. Makes a great pollenizer for Boreal Beauty, Boreal Beast, and Aurora.
'Czech 17' Honeyberry - Lonicera caerulea 'Czech 17'
A honeyberry cultivar known for its exceptional vigor, Czech 17 can grow up to 8 feet tall (although 6 ft is more common) and 3.5 feet wide. It produces a large amount of flowers over a long period of time, making it an excellent pollenizer for almost any other honeyberry cultivar. The berries it produces have good flavor but are smaller than most other cultivars.