Huckleberry is the term given to a group of shrubs in the Ericaceae family. Also in this family are cranberries and blueberries. Black huckleberries grow wild in the eastern part of North America while blue huckleberries are found along Atlantic Coastal Plain. It is best to buy high quality, open-pollinated seeds and start them indoors 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost, or purchase established bushes and plant in early spring or fall. Huckleberry bushes do well in USDA Cold Hardiness Zones 5 through 8.
TIP: Our expert gardening advisor, Susan Patterson adds, "Wild huckleberry bushes grow from rhizomes and do not transplant into the home garden well. Always purchase high-quality nursery stock."
Prepare the Soil
Test your soil in early spring, before planting. Huckleberries thrive in fairly acidic soil (4.0 to 6.0 pH). You can incorporate sulfur into the soil to bring levels down if they are too high. Huckleberries prefer well-drained sandy or loamy soil. Adding plenty of organic matter to your soil will help provide necessary nutrients for your bush.
Dig a hole, in a sunny or partly sunny location, that is twice as wide as the rootball and just as deep. Place the bush into the soil and backfill the hole. Tamp the dirt down and water the bush thoroughly. If you are transplanting young plants from indoors be sure to allow them a week outside to harden before you plant.
Caring for Your Bush
Water young bushes regularly and do not allow the soil to completely dry out in between waterings. Always water in the morning and be very careful not to get foliage wet. Fertilize with a 20-20-20 water-soluble fertilizer during the growing period according to package instructions.
Huckleberry bushes bloom between May and July. Harvest fruit when it is dark purple in color.
TIP: Susan advises, "Do not eat huckleberry fruit raw, it is best in jams, jellies or baked goods."