Growing berries, grapes, and currants
Many small fruits—strawberries, currants, blackberries, grapes, blueberries, and raspberries—are well-suited to Maryland’s growing conditions. Small fruit plants are generally long-lived. If you’re planning to grow them, pay special attention to cultivar selection and site preparation. Cultivars should be adapted to your soil and climatic conditions. If possible, select cultivars with the fewest insect and disease problems.
Buy the best nursery stock available from reputable nurseries that guarantee their plants to be true to name, of high quality, and packed and shipped correctly. Place your order early, specifying the cultivar, size, grade of plants desired, and preferred time of shipment. It is best to have the plants arrive when you are ready to set them out and have the planting site prepared well in advance of planting.
When your order arrives, unpack the bundles and inspect the plants. The roots should be moist and have a bright, fresh appearance. Shriveled roots indicate that the plants have been allowed to freeze or dry-out in storage or transit. Such plants seldom survive. Plant roots must be kept moist and free from freezing temperatures at all times.
If the plants cannot be set out immediately, they should be kept in cold storage by wrapping them loosely in a plastic bag with some holes cut for ventilation and storing them at a temperature just above freezing. Moistened peat moss, sawdust or shredded newspaper can be used to keep roots from drying. Strawberry plants, in small quantities, may be held in the home refrigerator for a few days. If refrigerated storage is not available, remove the plants from the bundle, and carefully plant them in a trench of moist soil in a shaded location (this is called “heeling-in”). Pack the soil firmly around the roots to eliminate all air pockets and to prevent the roots from drying out.
|Strawberry||Fragaria X||N.A./S.A. cross||Yes||June-bearing and day-neutral are best|
|Blueberry*||Vaccinium spp.||7 native MD species||Yes||Northern highbush, Southern highbush, and rabbiteye (Southern MD and Eastern Shore only) will all grow in MD|
|No/Can be Difficult||Many good seedless table grapes available. ‘Concord’ not well-adapted to the warmer sections of MD|
|Blackberry||Rubus ursinus||North America||Yes.....but||Many choices; trailing, thornless cultivars can be difficult to control in a small area|
|Raspberry||Rubus idaeus and Rubus spp.||North America||Yes....but||Many choices; primocane-bearing are easiest to manage|
|Currant*||Ribes spp.||Europe and North America||Yes||Easy, underutilized plants. Red, white, and black cultivars. Plant more than one cultivar with black currant|
|Gooseberry*||Ribes spp.||Europe N.A.||Yes||Need 2 different cultivars, like currants|
|Hardy kiwi*a||Actinidia spp.||Asia||Yes||Rampant grower|
|Elderberry*||Sambucus||North America||Yes||Fairly large plants|
|Beach plum*||Prunus maratima||East Coast, U.S.||Yes?||Wild, native plum; unreliable fruiting. For the adventurous gardener|
|Black chokeberry (Aronia)||Aronia melanocarpa||North America||Yes||Astringent but healthful fruit. Good for juice and jelly. Good wildlife plant|
*These fruits usually require two cultivars (cross-pollination) for the best fruit set.
a-hardy kiwi has the potential to escape cultivation and establish in woods.
Chart: Prepared by Jon Traunfeld, University of Maryland Extension; 2/16