PNW Landscape Plant Guide

brought to you by the plant geeks at Calendula Farm

Evergreen Huckleberries (Vaccinium ovatum)

First – YUM!

Second – We are talking about lowland huckleberries, not the mountain hucks. Lowland Evergreen Huckleberries the ubiquitous, native, shrubby plants you see at forest edges along roadsides especially as you travel through the Kitsap, Key, and Olympic peninsulas. They are found all over west of the Cascades but are especially thick in these parts.

Despite their extensive and pervasive growth in the wild, they are difficult to propagate and rarely survive transplant from the wild. This is why you don’t find them often at many nurseries. That just makes us more motivated to grow more and keep them in stock.

They make a great urban ornamental shrub with small evergreen leaves that turn purplish bronze in the colder months. New growth emerges rusty red, then ages to green. In full sun Evergreen Huckleberry will stay shorter (2-4 ft.) and more dense & compact. In full shade it will grow taller and leggier as it reaches for the sun. Individual plants will fruit at various times of the year, but on average you can expect to pick them around late summer. The berries are small but they are densely clustered all over the plant. Berries are sweet and intensely flavorful. It is, essentially, a wild blueberry. Huckleberry, Blueberry, Lingonberry, and Cranberry are all brothers and sisters in the same family.

When moving any Blueberry/Huckleberry relative from a pot into the ground, do not be tempted to loosen or disturb the roots. They hate that and will spend energy repairing the fine, dense root system instead of growing and fruiting. Hucks & relatives are very sensitive to going dry for the first summer or two while they are establishing. Baby them with water at first, but once established, they are basically care free!