Vaccinium ovatum Huckleberries are often overlooked by gardeners. The tidy native shrubs are covered with small deep green leaves throughout the year, a natural landscaping plant. They reward you in late summer with blue-black berries that have a delightful sweet-tart zing.
After unpacking, allow the plant a few days to gradually acclimate to full-sun exposure. Dig a hole approximately 2 1/2 feet around and 1 foot deep. Replace about 1/3-1/2 of the soil from the hole with moistened peat moss and mix well. Lightly roughen the outside of the plant's root ball and position the plant so the root ball is slightly higher than ground level, mounding the soil well. Water thoroughly. Mulch with a 2-4 inch layer of straw, sawdust or wood shavings (not cedar). The mulch helps retain moisture, keeps the roots cool and suppresses weeds. For the first feeding, fertilize lightly once the plants have become established or in late spring. Use an acid fertilizer, our Acid Mix works well, or rhododendron/azalea fertilizer. We recommend removing the first year's blossoms as they appear. This diverts the plant's energy and allows it to establish a strong root system.
Water regularly during the first growing season, but do not allow the soil to become soggy. Fertilize in early spring and once again in late spring. Huckleberries are very sensitive to over-fertilization, so be conservative! Always water well after fertilizing. Organic fertilizers, blood meal and cottonseed meal work well. Avoid using manures. After the leaves have dropped in the fall, prune the huckleberry bushes. Remove any dead wood, blotchy-colored branches and the very low growth at the base. Thin out lateral and small, weak branches until you have removed a total of about 1/3-1/2 of the wood.
Pests & Diseases
Cover plants with Birdblock Protective Netting if birds are a problem, otherwise huckleberries are seldom bothered by pests.
Huckleberries prefer slightly acidic (4.0-5.5 pH), well-draining soil rich in organic matter. Peat moss, sawdust and composted oak leaves are good amendments to add humus and lower the pH of the soil.
Huckleberries thrive in part to full shade.