Haskap Care Guide
Haskaps are extremely hardy shrubs and can thrive in zones as low as zone two. Although they can survive at higher altitudes and colder zones, these areas can be too short a growing season for optimal berry ripening. If you are planning to grow them in zones 3 or lower, consider the ‘early harvest varieties in order to maximize your success for ripe, sweet berries.
Plants reach an average of four to five feet in height and width, so space them about that wide apart on centre to allow for air circulation and easier harvests. To establish a deep root system, position the transplants slightly lower in the soil than they were growing in their nursery containers. Dig the hole twice the size of the root ball, line with good compost, and fill with loose, loamy top soil. ‘Heal in’ the plant by gently pushing down the soil around the plant to form a slight indentation. This ensures the roots have good contact with the soil, lessens the chance of ‘root rot’ and the indentation creates a place for water to collect and soak into the soil better.
The berries will look ripe one to two weeks before they are ready to be eaten. If the berries are green inside, they are not ready. They’ll turn a deep purple-red inside when they are truly ripened and ready for harvesting. Be patient! It is well worth the wait!
Haskaps, like many other woody shrubs, benefit from pruning. Unpruned haskaps reach maturity in about five years and will be at their peak productivity until about 10 years old when productivity declines if they have been left unpruned. As the branches age, they become less productive so pruning is an effective way to increase fruit production and also increases the ease of picking the fruit, keeps the plant healthy, and can extend the life of the plant indefinitely. Pruning is minimal in the first 3 years of growth, however this is a good time to shape the shrub for the future. Fruit is produced on 2nd year growth and older. The overall goal is to create a goblet shaped plant. Pruning is best done before the plant comes out of dormancy in the spring or after fruit harvest in late summer/autumn.
The following steps are a practical guide:
- First prune away all dead, broken or damaged branches
- Next prune away any branches that are in conflict/rubbing with another
- This choice is arbitrary, generally self apparent
- Thirdly, look for any branches that are crossing over the middle and will become an issue in the future
- Next, prune away any branches growing down, along or touching the ground
- Ideally, there should be at least 5” from the ground to the first branch, unless the shoot is going straight up and conforms to the ‘goblet’ shape’
- Ideally, never prune more than 1⁄3 of the plant at one time, although we have had to do so with very overgrown individuals that have come back better and stronger for having done so
- Once the shrub has reached maturity, pruning the above will be minimal. At that time, it is advisable to prune 1⁄3 of the oldest wood away each year to encourage new growth and in effect have a new shrub every three years or so.
Haskaps, like all plants, will benefit from healthy soil and as such, we recommend using fish fertilizer as per instructions on the bottle in spring, just as they are coming into flower and again 1⁄2 the amount in fall after harvest before they go into dormancy. We also recommend dressing them in the fall with well composted mulch or manure.
We wish you the best for years of enjoying haskaps!
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About Meadow Brae
Located in Salmon Arm, B.C., Meadow Brae is a family endeavor founded in 2020. Working with Nature, we strive to ensure the highest quality using sustainable practices in everything we do. We are passionate about our plants whether they are for food, health or simply for their natural beauty.
At Meadow Brae, we have a garden centre, haskap farm, offer hanging baskets and provide an incredibly pictureesque venue for private events.