Scarification: Soak in water, let stand in water for 24 hours
Stratification: cold stratify for 60 days
Germination: sow seed 1/4 deep, keep moist, tamp the soil
The Lonicera caerulea, commonly known as honeyberry, haskap berry, blue-berried honeysuckle, or sweetberry honeysuckle, is a deciduous shrub native to countries such as Canada, Japan, Russia, and Poland. It thrives in cool temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Growing up to 1.5–2 m tall, the honeyberry features oval leaves with a slightly waxy texture in a greyish-green shade. The flowers are yellowish-white, with five equal lobes, and are produced in pairs on the shoots. The fruit is a delicious, edible blue berry that weighs between 1.3 to 2.2 grams and is approximately 1 cm in diameter.
The honeyberry is highly versatile and can be found in various natural habitats, including wetlands of boreal forests, heavy peat soils, high-calcium soils, mountainous regions, and coastal areas of northeastern Asia and northwestern North America. This robust plant is known for its exceptional winter hardiness and its ability to withstand temperatures as low as below minus 47 degrees Celsius.
Cultivating the honeyberry has become increasingly popular due to its various benefits. Different varieties of the plant have been bred to enhance productivity and flavor. These varieties differ in terms of berry size, taste, and bush dimensions, allowing growers to select the most suitable option for their needs. Most honeyberry cultivars grow to be 1.5 to 2 meters tall and wide, exhibiting a high tolerance for wet conditions. They thrive in well-drained soils with a pH range of 3.9-7.7, although the optimum pH is 5.5-6.5. Adequate sunlight is essential to achieve optimum productivity.
The honeyberry produces berries that contain approximately 20 seeds, which are similar in size and shape to tomato seeds but are not noticeable during consumption. While this fruit is generally disease-resistant, it may be susceptible to powdery mildew, which commonly appears after fruit maturity in mid- to late-summer. Harvesting the honeyberry typically occurs in late spring or early summer, approximately two weeks before strawberries. The anthocyanin-rich berries are ready to be harvested when the inner layer turns dark purple or blue, while the outer layer takes on a dark blue appearance.
The honeyberry is not only valued for fresh consumption but also for its wide range of culinary uses. It can be used in various processed products such as pastries, jams, juices, ice cream, yogurt, sauces, candies, and even as a base for wine production. In addition to its excellent flavor, Lonicera caerulea is known for its phytochemical composition, including cyanidin 3-glucoside, cyanidin 3-rutinoside, peonidin 3-glucoside, proanthocyanidins, organic acids, and a high content of citric acid. These compounds contribute to the fruit's vibrant blue pigmentation and offer potential health benefits.
Throughout East Asian countries, Lonicera caerulea has long been associated with traditional medicine and its supposed therapeutic applications. Today, honeyberry enthusiasts and health-conscious consumers are increasingly recognizing the unique qualities and benefits of this wonderful fruit. With its exceptional hardiness, versatility, and nutritional properties, the honeyberry has become a valuable addition to gardens and agricultural landscapes worldwide. Whether enjoyed fresh or transformed into a variety of delicious products, the honeyberry is an exceptional fruit that continues to captivate and delight.