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.
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.
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.
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.