How to Grow California Huckleberry

A California huckleberry shrub image by Nick:commons.wikimedia.org

Overview

California huckleberry, known botanically as Vaccinium ovatum, is a flowering and fruiting evergreen sub-shrub that grows to roughly 6 feet in height. It is also grown for its green, bronze and purple foliage and used widely in borders, hedging, beds and as a topiary specimen plant. California huckleberry is adaptable to a wide range of soil conditions and is mildly drought tolerant. Flowers appear in March through May with fruiting following bloom.

Step 1

Select a planting site with filtered sunlight or dappled shade exposure for your California huckleberry. Provide well-drained soil that is nutrient rich and amend your soil with compost if it is in poor condition. Consider the planting site a permanent home, as your huckleberry will not tolerate transplant once mature and established in ground soil.

Step 2

Water your California huckleberry so that the soil remains evenly and lightly moist to the touch, but is not soaking wet. Depending on your climate and time of year this may mean watering every 4 to 10 days. While huckleberry is somewhat drought tolerant when established, never allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings. Mulch the base of the shrub with shredded bark or cocoa hulls to hold moisture to the soil and reduce the frequency of watering.

Step 3

Feed your huckleberry with a good quality water-soluble fertilizer once or twice a year. Make the first application early in the spring and the second in the late summer. A general purpose balanced fertilizer in a fast acting or slow release granular form will work. Be sure to apply in keeping with the label directions. Huckleberry does enjoy acidic soil, so an acid rich fertilizer, such as Miracid, can also be used.

Step 4

Maintenance groom with secateurs to remove and dead, diseased or damaged foliage and branching when you see it throughout the year. Prune your huckleberry in the fall to control size and shape as you desire but pruning is not necessary to induce bloom and fruiting. Shear with hand or electric tools to create hedging planes and topiary shapes.

Things You'll Need

  • Water
  • Secateurs
  • Long blade shears or trimmer
  • Water-soluble fertilizer

References

  • USDA Plant Database Profile
  • Evergreen State University
  • King County Native Plant Guide
Keywords: California huckleberry, Vaccinium ovatum, fruiting flowering evergreen shrub

About this Author

A communications professional, D.C. Winston has more than 17 years of experience writing and editing content for online publications, corporate communications, business clients, industry journals and film/broadcast media. Winston studied political science at the University of California, San Diego.

Photo by: Nick:commons.wikimedia.org