If you are looking for an easy to grow berry plant that is low maintenance and cold hardy, try the lingonberry. The lingonberry bush is an attractive plant that is most often grown for its tart- flavored, healthful berries.
The berries are packed with Vitamin C making them a newer addition to the list of amazing superfoods to grow. With a little bit of preparation, lingonberries make delicious jellies and sauces to accompany your breakfast, lunch, or dinner entrees.
The lingonberry plant is more than just a great edible choice. This low growing evergreen plant is good looking. It blooms in the spring with very dainty bell shaped flowers in white or pink. It spreads over the ground and crawls underground via runners, too. It is an independent plant that prefers to be left alone to flourish. As it develops as a groundcover, it will keep weeds at bay.
Lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea) is best suited for growing in U.S. Department of Agriculture Hardiness Zones 2 through 6. It is native to the cold climates of the North, from the northern states in the U.S. and up into Canada, stretching east to Iceland, then over the river and through the woods to the Scandinavian countries. They are found throughout parts Northern Asia all the way around to Japan. Lingonberry continues to be an immensely popular food staple in many of its native areas. It is a currently rising trend in other areas.
How to Grow and Care for Lingonberry
A lingonberry plant can be acquired at a local nursery. While lingonberry bushes are self pollinating, selecting two varieties that can cross pollinate will produce a higher yield and increase the size of your berries.
Lingonberries, like their relative blueberry and cranberry bushes, love acidic soil. Even if you have acidic soil, add a little extra for good measure. Amend peat moss or pine bark mulch to your soil to prepare it for planting.
Your lingonberry bush will love a sunny location. Place your plant’s root ball into a hole you have dug that is two times the width of the roots. Use peat moss to fill in the hole, and water well.
For the first year, your plant will require just less than an inch of water every week. Your plant should not be allowed to dry between watering. Consistent moisture will produce the best result. Once your plant is established, its water needs will decrease to about a half an inch every week. Again, consistency is vital.
You will need to wait 4 or 5 years for your plant to mature and producing berries at its peak. When they appear, wait to harvest them after the first hard frost. You might have to compete with your local wildlife for your lingonberries. You might have to get creative and devise a method to ensure that you get to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Over the winter, your lingonberry bush will take comfort from the cold under a blanket of snow. However, if you live in an area where it is often 10 degrees or below and your plant does not receive consistent protection by snow, provide a mulch covering for your plant to safeguard it from freezing.
Every spring, feed your growing lingonberry plant some acidic fertilizer. Incorporate a couple of inches of organic matter or peat moss into the top several inches of soil around the bush.
Lingonberry Pests and Problems
The lingonberry bush is a hardy, disease free plant. It is susceptible to a few “pests”- birds, raccoons, and foxes to name a few. Also, since it is a low growing bush, be sure to keep weeds away from the plants so they are not choked out and competing for soil nutrients. Be careful weeding around the lingonberries to protect their roots and runners.
Lingonberry Varieties to Consider
‘Balsgard’ is a high yielding, vigorous variety. It is slow growing, so it ripens later than other plants, but its berries are large and worth the wait- in flavor.
‘Koralle’ is another high yielding variety that is grown as an ornamental edible in the U.S. The berries are tangy in flavor and average to large in size.
To learn more about growing and using lingonberries, visit:
The Lowdown on Lingonberries from Cornell University Cooperative Extension
Lowbush Cranberries or Lingonberries from University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service
Creative Commons Flickr photo courtesy of Leo-seta