History of Honeyberries
Fruits of the wild Honeyberry (eatable honeysuckle) have been used for food and many treatments since the early Middle Ages. Famous Russian traveler Vladimir Atlasov, who discovered honeyberries in the end of 17th century in Kamchatka Peninsula, underlined not only the quality of these exotic berries, but also their hardiness. Treasured and loved in Asia for centuries the berry came to Europe and was appreciated in its gardens because of its versatility. The Petersburg Botanical Garden in Russia has had the collection of Honeysuckle ( “zhimolost” in Russian) since the middle of 18 century. They were brought from all over the world and tested for hardiness and longevity. Researches had developed many new species. In 1956 Honeyberry was introduced and recommended for wide spread gardening throughout the Soviet Union.
Almost unheard of here in the United States, Honeyberry is a relative of the Honeysuckle with sweet, succulent, very edible fruit resembling blueberries. A shade and sun tolerate shrub, nicely shaped, being quite unpretentious it bears beautiful cream white flowers in early spring, followed in early summer by some of the juiciest, most delectable berries you will ever taste.Most varieties average about 4 to 8 feet tall, and very easy to grow in regular to poor, moist soil and any shady/sun spot (except in the northernmost portion of its hardiness range, where position in the sun is preferred. The 1 1/2-inch, often oval, prolonged,cylindrical blue fruit ripens about 2 weeks before strawberries in most regions, beginning the first or second year after planting.
Even when not in flower or fruit, however, this Honeyberry is attractive, thanks to velvety grayish-green foliage. In the fall the color changes into yellow shades. Native to eastern Siberia and Far East regions, this hardy deciduous species is not troubled by pests or disease much. Possible to grow organically.
Honeyberries are NOT self-fertile, but will pollinate with another Honeyberry bush, different cultivar so plant at least two-three honeyberry cultivars because both varieties will fruit equally heavily, bearing 5 to 9 pounds of delicious berries in late spring-early summer. Honeyberry has no chill requirement (flowering at 25F), and is quite long-lived (expect 25-50 active fruiting!).No fertilizer is required, but if you decide to use one, a balanced mixture such as 12-6-6 or just 5-5-5 is ideal. Manure can be used too( better to use with water) Mulch is necessary to maintain moisture in the soil and to cover the roots before winter comes.
Ph is from 5.5 to 8.5. But it prefers 6 - 7. 6.2-6.5 is the best.
Zones 2-4, 5-8 is under some risks- irrigation is needed. 9 West Coast.