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How to Cultivate Huckleberries

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How to Cultivate Huckleberries

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Overview

Huckleberries grow wild throughout many parts of the United States, most notably the Pacific Northwest. Idaho's state fruit, wild huckleberry stands, are dwindling due to increased demand. Researchers at the University of Idaho began a program in 1994 to protect wild huckleberry populations while developing cultivars for commercial production and home use. As of 2010, only a few nurseries carry huckleberry plants. Growing them from seed or transplanting them from wild plants is not recommended. As research continues, finding and growing huckleberry cultivars will become easier. Also referred to as bilberries, huckleberries resemble large blueberries and are used in pies, jams or for fresh eating.

Step 1

Locate a source for huckleberry plants. Buy one-year-old plants with vigorous stiff canes and many lateral fruiting branches.

Step 2

Select a sunny location for your huckleberry with sandy loam soil. Huckleberries require a fairly acidic soil (pH 4.0 to 5.5). Amend the soil if necessary with granulated sulfur to lower the pH level.

Step 3

Lay 2 inches of compost and 2 inches of moistened peat moss on your intended site. Dig the compost and peat moss into the soil with a shovel at a depth of 6 to 8 inches.

Step 4

Dig a hole in the amended soil with your shovel large enough to accommodate the root system of the huckleberry. Remove the huckleberry from its container and set it in the hole.

Step 5

Back-fill the hole with soil and tamp down gently.

Step 6

Water immediately after planting and as needed to keep the soil evenly moist, but not soggy.

Step 7

Lay a 3-inch layer of wood chip mulch around the plant to add acid to the soil and conserve moisture.

Things You'll Need

  • Peat moss
  • Compost
  • Wood chip mulch

References

  • University of Idaho: Huckleberries and Bilberries
  • University of Idaho: Selecting, Propagating and Growing Huckleberries
  • Outdoor Idaho: Wild Huckleberry NearlyTamed

Who Can Help

  • Outdoor Idaho: Wild Huckleberry NearlyTamed
  • International Wild Huckleberry Association: Where to Buy Huckleberry Plants
Keywords: growing huckleberries, planting huckleberries, huckleberries

About this Author

Julie Christensen has been writing for five years. Her work has appeared in "The Friend" and "Western New York Parent" magazines. Her guide for teachers, "Helping Young Children Cope with Grief" will be published this spring. Christensen studied early childhood education at Ricks College and recently returned to school to complete a degree in communications/English.