Mistakes to Avoid when Growing a Serviceberry

The serviceberry is a small bush-like tree that grows in moist and well-drained soil in most parts of the US. While the serviceberry is an adaptable tree that is not difficult to grow, there are some mistakes which can inhibit the development and growth of the tree to its full potential

The Wrong Soil

The serviceberry tree likes a moist and well-drained soil and requires watering regularly in summer. While the serviceberry can adapt to living in alkaline or neutral soils, it much prefers to be planted in acidic soils. It is under greater stress when living in clay or alkaline soils. Leaving a serviceberry tree without water while it is growing will weaken the plant, or even kill it outright. The tree also does not like a great deal of pollution, and it will wilt in sandy or salty soil.

Shade vs. Sun

Like most of the Rose family, the serviceberry grows best in full sun or mostly sunny sites. It is not well-adapted to constant shade, although other plants may find the serviceberry a good form of shade in itself, as the roots are not intrusive. The best place for a serviceberry is at the edge of a garden or field, set in the hedgerow. The tree can be used as shrub hedgerow themselves.

Birds and Insects

The serviceberry produces a small and honey-flavored fruit that attracts wildlife to the tree, but it is easy for the plant to be picked clean before it has a chance to properly fruit. While this does not affect the latter directly, attracting insects to the leaves and wildlife to the root, can case infestations—pests can strip a serviceberry of its leaves—and also undermine the roots. Bird damage can also cause significant trouble to the fruit; they are very greedy for this plant and twigs and leaves can sometimes be broken.


The serviceberry is vulnerable to a number of diseases, which often occur with heavy rainfall. Diseases such as mummyberry (where the berries shrivel and form hard crusts) and juniper rust are not significant problems, but Witches Broom, which causes branches to produce clumped-together stems resembling broom ends, and can require the plant to be destroyed, and Firebright, which make the fruits leathery and dark brown, and requires all diseased branches to be lopped, are more serious.

Trunk Damage

The serviceberry’s trunk is exceptionally tender and easily damaged by wildlife and birds. It is also easy to damage the bark by mowing too close to the trunk, or by over-enthusiastic gardening nearby. Take care when performing any tasks such as digging, around the base of the tree; and if the trunk does become too damaged to remain, it is best to saw off the main trunk and allow a sucker to take its place, rather than attempting to strengthen the damaged trunk with fencing and stiffening chemicals.