[NAFEX] Notes on Vaccinium in the NE

Ginda Fisher ginda at concentric.net
Sun Nov 3 16:47:02 EST 2002

Mostly this is a report on my experience with vaccinium ovatum (I 
think) or evergreen huckleberries that I am trying to grow, but I just 
can't leave out how gorgeous my Rubel blueberry is today in its fall 

Two years ago I planted a number of small evergreen huckleberries here 
in eastern Massachusetts.  They are native to the Pacific northwest.  I 
wanted a shade tolerant small fruit, and these seemed to fit the bill.  
They are marginally hardy here (zone 6, but protected) but I believe in 
getting a jump on global warming.  And I enjoy pretty much all 
vaccinium fruits I've met, so I figured they were worth a try.

I bought one from Raintree, and was also given several by a generous 
Nafexer.  (Sam Franc)  I planted them in the spring of 2001, in varying 
conditions.  All but 4 died shortly thereafter.  The survivors included 
three of the smallest gifts, (all single stem plants of less than 6 
inches) and the potted purchased plant.  A search of the internet 
indicated that they don't transplant well bareroot, and I seem to have 
confirmed this.  The ones that got supplemental peat were the first to 
die - perhaps the peat wasn't wet enough when I tranplanted, or maybe 
they don't like peat.  At any rate, the ones that survived were the 
ones that I just dropped into the ground with minimal preparation.

Two more died in the fall, after an extended drought.  (Including the 
potted one.)  Curiously, one of the survivors had almost no irrigation, 
because I can't quite reach it with my hose.  Because the weather had 
been so harsh, I bought another two (from Forest Farm, tiny potted 
plants) this spring (2002.)

Of the four I had this spring, three remain.  The other might still be 
alive, but has disappeared.  (It is close to the mulch pile and may 
have ended up under some brush.)  Both of Sam's died down from the 
combination of drought and winter, but sent up new shoots.  One is at 
least as large as when I put it in.  This one is currently bright red.  
The other one has a couple of 2 inch shoots (it is green).  The 
remaining Forest Farm seedling looks about the same as when I planted 
it in the spring.

In short, it is too early to tell if these will prosper.  It is 
possible that once they are established, they will increase in size, 
but they may also just fade away,  Given the difficulty moving larger 
plants, I don't expect they will ever be popular around here, or 
indeed, anywhere beyond their natural range.  Still, I am hoping for 
the best.  They are very handsome all year, and a woodland huckleberry 
would be a great treat.

I'll try to give an update in a couple of years.

Ginda Fisher

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