Evergreen Huckleberry-The Edible Hedge Project Continued

Evergreen huckleberry "hedge" at the norh side of my house

I am finally following up to my edible hedge post from last year, specifically a little more about the lovely evergreen huckleberry. Not quite the privacy hedge I had hoped for just yet, it’s not really looking like much of a hedge at all, more like a bunch of plants lined up along the fence at this point. Most of the huckleberry plants have about six inches of new growth this year, some a bit more some a bit less.

Most of my evergreen huckleberry are still only about 18" to 2' tall

I was overjoyed after the prolonged winter and slow to start spring that every single plant has survived, this is after all my second attempt at growing an evergreen huckleberry hedge. The first time I tried this was just unfortunate timing, I planted right before that record breakingly hot dry summer followed by that the record breakingly cold snowy winter(oh yes the coldest on record since the 50’s!). The following spring I found my entire evergreen huckleberry effort had been wiped out. I really had my heart set on a long row of evergreen huckleberry, and wasn’t going to let a little something like record breaking weather stop me! As soon as the ground thawed I went right out and purchased 12 new plants and started all over again.

Colourful new growth

What is here now is evergreen huckleberry hedge round two and so far so good. Every plant is showing new growth and it does look quite stunning this time of year, new leaves come in brick red, to burnt umber to lime green, over a back drop of the older, dark, true green leaves. Not all of my plants are flowering(yet?) last year every plant produced flowers and berries, perhaps there are some late bloomers due to the chilly wet spring this year.

Most of my evergreen huckleberry is blooming

What I have found out so far about growing evergreen huckleberry aside from it being a slow grower. First of all it likes to be in the shade the plants that are in the sunnier spots are doing noticeably less that the plants that are set back in more shade. Second they need quite a bit of water or the leaves start to curl up and drop off, last summer I sprinkled them every day, this is still a newer planting and it is near a huge tree so I am sure that affects the watering requirement, but compared to the cherry laurel that was also recently planted in roughly the same area evergreen huckleberry is much thirstier . Third the tiny berries are quite laborious and messy to pick, the dark purple/blue/black juice quickly stains your finger ever after just harvesting a small bowl, if you don’t get around to picking all the berries, they will fall and make a big stainy mess if there is any kind surface for them to fall on to nearby. For example if you had planted next to a beautiful cedar deck or in my case planted next to my grey paving stone pathway it can get pretty messy.

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7 Responses to Evergreen Huckleberry-The Edible Hedge Project Continued

  1. Pingback: Edible Hedges | My Little City Food Garden

  2. Redondo Bch & Lake Tahoe, CA says:

    Hello, I just read some infomation about growing evergreen Huckleberry in the shade in S.California, I plan on planting bushes in the shade, also states that thay grow well in the local soil here.I will give it a go, sounds too good to be true. I have a shady plot that is hard to find edible fruit and vegetables to grow.I live in Redondo Beach, a mile from the ocean, so a mild climate with very low chill hours.

    • Sounds like a beautiful place to live! i don’t have a lot of shade in my garden my house is placed in the North/East corner of my lot. I was so surprised too, when I found out about this wonderful plant evergreen huckleberry, it has been a slow grower for me, but I think it’sworth the wait:)

  3. Aaron says:

    I have done many evergreen huckleberry plantings in coastal Humboldt County. They are definitely at home here as you can see them on the edge of any forest trail. Two things that may help you are spacing and mulching. Spacing for hedge screens should be planted at 14 to 16 inches. If things get crowded around year three you can always thin out. As for mulch, there is nothing better than shredded redwood bark, but any acid mulch will help. I actually work the mulch into the soil before planting, then spread it on top to conserve moisture, provide acid conditions and also weed control. It is not that much extra work and the huckleberries will be home in the forest products.

    • Hi Aaron, thanks for the tips! I grew up in a very rural part of Vancouver Island but had never heard of evergreen huckleberry until I moved to the city! I think I may have spaced my “hedge” out too far between plants hopefully it fills in some day. My soil is super acidic I have 2 huge evergreen trees(cypress I think?) that drop buckets of brown bits all over the huckleberry I was scarping off as much tree debris as I could but sounds like I would be better off to leave it there.

  4. Megan says:

    I am planning to plant a similar hedge next spring, and I am wondering how well yours is doing. Has it continued to grow and do well? Now that the plants are well established, did they handle the summer drought better than before? What is your soil pH? My planting area is shady and has a pH of roughly 6.5, but I will adjust it down to 5.5 before planting. I think huckleberries prefer 5.0, but I’m not sure if I want all the grass to die.

    My neighbor has 16 inch tall dogs who bark every time they see an animal in my yard, and I am hoping this hedge will quickly grow to that height and block their view. Also, if these huckleberries are as rich in flavor as I hear they are, I bet they will make an amazing pie. Are the berries rich and tart like I’ve heard?

    • Hi Megan, so far my “hedge” is not much of a hedge at all, I am still seeing only a few inches of new growth each year and totally not good for drought. Despite the evergreen huckleberry being there for a few years now I am still having to water every day during the summer or the leaves turn brown and they don’t produce berries, these seem to need wet soil. Not at all a fast growing privacy hedge like I had hoped. The berries are excellent they taste like wild blueberries but do have a lot of seeds, berries are just perfeclty ready to pick now! The thing I do love about this plant is it is a true every green and provides 4 seasons of interest as the leaves do change from light green to red to dark green plus white flowers and the berries. Its a beautiful plant and I am hoping once it get more established will be a beautiful hedge. Elise

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