- Lingonberry — What it is and how to use this great berry
- It’s time to dig deeper than usual into a single ingredient. This time that ingredient is the Lingonberry. This delicious red berry is a staple in some parts of the world and for good reason. Let’s learn everything about it, including how to use it.
- What is a Lingonberry?
- How Does Lingonberries Grow?
- How Do Lingonberry Taste
- Nutrition and Health Benefits of Lingonberry
- Lingonberry Cultivation
- Foraging Lingonberries
- The Lingonberry come with many names
- How To Use Lingonberries
- How to make Lingonberry Jam
- Rårörda Lingonberries
- Lingonberry Products
- Lingonberry Cocktail With Gin
- The Mighty Lingonberry
- Lingonberry Plant
- Cold Hardy Ground Cover With Delicious Berries
- Planting & Care
- Lingonberries: Quick Care Guide
- All About Lingonberries
- Caring For Lingonberry Plants
- Harvesting & Storing Your Fruit
- Troubleshooting Lingonberry Plants
- Frequently Asked Questions
- New Farm Lingonberry
- Lingonberry: An Attractive Landscape Plant and a Unique Small Fruit
- Site and Soil
- Planting and Culture
- Partial List of Nurseries Selling Lingonberry
- Learn About Lingonberries
- Growing Lingonberries – How to Grow Lingonberries
- Further Information on Lingonberries
- Growing Lingonberries
- Koralle Lingonberry
- Red Pearl Lingonberry
Lingonberry — What it is and how to use this great berry
Fred SkebergFollow Aug 2, 2017 · 8 min read
08/02/2017 • INGREDIENTS •
It’s time to dig deeper than usual into a single ingredient. This time that ingredient is the Lingonberry. This delicious red berry is a staple in some parts of the world and for good reason. Let’s learn everything about it, including how to use it.
The Lingonberry is a staple in Sweden where I come from. I’m sure that if you open a fridge in most homes in Sweden you will find a jar of lingonberry jam. But what is this berry, how is it grown and how can you use it, let’s find out.
What is a Lingonberry?
The lingonberry is a red berry about 5–10 mm / 0.2–0.4 inches in diameter. The Latin name for the berry is Vaccinium Vitis-idaea. Before the berry comes small bell shaped white to pink flowers. The plant is part of the same family as the bilberry and cranberry.
How Does Lingonberries Grow?
Lingonberries grow on low dark evergreen shrubs and it spreads by underground stems. The leaves are 5–30 mm / 0.2–1.2 inches long and dark green. The plant is similar to the bilberries but with darker and shinier leaves. If you’ve neither seen bilberry plants or lingonberry you could describe it like thyme but with thicker stems and bigger leaves.
Lingonberries grow throughout the Russian boreal forests, Scandinavia, Alaska, USA, and Canada. Altogether the lingonberry can be found in over twenty countries. The plant can withstand temperatures down below -35°C.
However, the berries and flowers will not withstand such low temperatures so it does have a negative effect on the harvest. Lingonberry requires moist preferably acidic soil and grows best in partial shade. When too hot the plant will not produce much of the sought after lingonberries.
How Do Lingonberry Taste
Freshly picked lingonberries are very sour and quite tart but with a little bit of sweetness. The flavor is very similar to cranberries. Most people don’t like them raw so they are almost always sweetened in one way or the other. Further down in this article I’ll go through how you can use lingonberries.
Nutrition and Health Benefits of Lingonberry
Lingonberries contain flavonoids and lignans which both are said to prevent cancer. The berries also contain high levels of magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C and a fairly high level of fiber. It naturally contains benzoic acid which is commonly added as a preservative to many other fruit and berry products.
Therefore many products like lingonberry jam will naturally have a long shelf life. Benzoic acid is added to prevent the growth of mold. So it’s nice that the lingonberry is a healthy berry but to me, the flavor is the reason for eating it.
In Europe, the lingonberry is rarely cultivated, most likely because the financial incentive is not good enough. It’s just cheaper to hire pickers for the wild lingonberries instead of cultivating them. In Canada and the Northern parts of the US, there is cultivated production of lingonberries but it’s not a major industry.
Just as with the bilberry and other wild growing berries and mushrooms lingonberries are free to pick in Sweden under The Right of Public Access. Foraging lingonberries and other berries are popular all over Scandinavia and Russia.
The downside is that it is very time consuming and after bending over the low lingonberry shrubs for a day your back will be sore. To make the picking easier a special tool is used. You can see it in the image below.
The comb on the tool separate the berries from the shrubs with little or no damage to the plant or berries. Since the lingonberries are quite hard they can withstand the process. The same type of picking tool can be used for other berries like the bilberry as well but since those berries are softer they are easier damaged.
The Lingonberry come with many names
The name lingonberry comes from the Swedish word for the berry which is simply lingon. The berry comes with plenty of other names as well. Here’s what they are called in some parts of the world.
Lingon, puolukka, alpine cranberry, mirtillo rosso, foxberry, dry-ground cranberry, partridgeberry, airelle rouge, graines rouges, moss cranberry, mountain cranberry.
How To Use Lingonberries
Now let’s start with the important stuff. How do you use this berry? Luckily there is no shortage of ways you can use it. In Sweden where I live lingonberry is consumed almost only as jam.
It is commonly served with traditional foods like Sunday steak, the famous Swedish meatballs, reindeer but also for other parts of the day like topping a bowl of porridge.
To make it easier you can say that you can use lingonberries in any recipe where you normally use cranberries. The flavor and texture are close enough so most recipes work great. So pies, lemonade, jams, drinks all work great. I even served lingonberries with a beef carpaccio once so it works for plenty of things.
With that said I’m, like most Swedes are a traditionalist when it comes to lingonberries. I would say that I consume at least 90% of the lingonberries I eat with meatballs. If you want to learn all there is about the Swedish meatballs you can head over here. To learn how to make lingonberry jam and a few other things with lingonberries just keep reading.
How to make Lingonberry Jam
Making lingonberry jam is easy. Here’s how to make it.
2.2 lb / 1kg lingonberries
1 cup / 2.3 dl water
2.1 cups / 5 dl sugar
Rinse the lingonberries so there are no leaves or twigs left. Add the lingonberries and water to a pot and bring to a boil. Remove any of the foam which can build up on top. Add the sugar and stir and then let the jam simmer for about 5–10 minutes. Pour into clean glass jars and seal.
To make sure it will last you can add preservatives but the lingonberry jam usually keeps for a long time without anything added thanks to the sugar and its natural benzoate acid. Especially if stored cold.
Another and in my opinion even better way of making lingonberry jam is to make Rårörda lingon. This translates to raw stirred lingonberries and is exactly what it sounds like.
All you have to do is to add fresh or frozen lingonberries to a bowl. Add sugar and stir. It is best to let the berries and sugar stand in the fridge overnight to make sure all the sugar has dissolved. It is super easy and very delicious.
The ratio of the berries and the sugar depends on how sweet you like it. I prefer to use about 2 parts lingonberries to 1 part sugar by volume. With this ratio you’ll still get a bit of the tart and sour flavor, making it delicious. As a bonus there will be some juice left that you can use for something else, maybe the lingonberry cocktail that is coming up.
The raw stirred lingonberries will keep at least for a week in kept cold and covered. If you want a great recipe to use them for I recommend my own recipe for Wallenbergare which is sort of a luxurious meatball that is commonly served in restaurants in Sweden. Instead of pork and beef veal is used and it’s served with butter, mashed potatoes, green peas, and lingonberries. Get the full recipe with all the details here.
Like I already mentioned the most common product is lingonberry jam. Walk into a grocery store in Sweden and you’ll find more than you thought ever existed. There are also frozen raw berries, lingonberry bread and lingonberry lemonade.
If you’ll find yourself in the female hygiene section you might also find a product called “Lingonvecka”. This is not food but a brand of sanitary towels and tampons. The name Lingonvecka translates to lingonberry week and is slang for the menstruation period. The brand Renee Voltaire got the genius idea to name their product after this slang word.
With that, I think I covered most of the things you need to know about the lingonberry, as a bonus I’ll treat you to this Lingonberry Cocktail with Gin. Because you’re worth it. Enjoy!
Lingonberry Cocktail With Gin
This one is easy to make. All you’ll need is gin, ice, raw stirred lingonberries and a dash of Campari. Thanks to the fact that I’m using the liquid from the raw stirred lingonberries the balance between tart, sweet and sour gets really nice. If gin is not your favorite you can switch it for vodka. Enjoy and as always, drink responsibly.
2 oz / 6 cl gin
1 oz / 3 cl Campari
2 oz / 6 cl Lingonberry liquid from the raw stirred lingonberries
2 tbsp lingonberries
1 tbsp lingonberries, for serving
Add all ingredients to a shaker and stir for about 30 seconds. Strain into a martini glass and add the spoonful of lingonberries for decoration.
For more drinks check out my full drink coverage here.
The Mighty Lingonberry
If you live in the North and are searching for a new and unusual crop or landscape plant, consider lingonberries. These plants thrive in moist, acidic soils from Massachusetts to Alaska, producing an abundance of healthful, cranberry-like fruits.
The lingonberry is a 12- to 18-inch-high evergreen shrub native to northern temperate, boreal and arctic regions of Europe and North America. In addition to inherent cold-hardiness, once covered with insulating snow, it survives northern winters from New England to Minnesota. In fact, it’s one of the few fruits that gardeners can grow successfully in those cold climates. In warmer climates, such as USDA Hardiness Zones 9 and 10, lingonberry neither grows well nor reliably survives summer.
Lingonberry plants spread by underground runners to three feet. The glossy, dark green leaves are 1/8- to 1/2-inch long and usually tinged red when new. This shrub is handsome enough for ornamental use — as a small-scale ground cover or informal edging around larger acid-soil plantings, for example. It is also attractive in containers.
The wild North American species of lingonberry, Vaccinium vitis-idaea var. minus (also called the mountain cranberry) is a low-growing plant that blooms only in the spring; the European and Asian native, V. v. var. majus, is a slightly taller shrub with larger leaves and flowers. It blooms twice each season. Also called cowberry or foxberry, it’s the type more commonly found at nurseries. Dan Hartmann, of Hartmann’s Plantation in Grand Rapids, Michigan, notes that this potential for a double crop is part of what makes these plants attractive.
Small, pinkish white, lily-of-the-valley-like blossoms open in tight clusters near the tips of one-year-old shoots and make an attractive display in border plantings. The May bloom produces fruits that ripen in midsummer (July and August here in northern Maine). The summer bloom, which occurs when fruits from the first bloom are ripening, produces fruits that ripen in late September and October.
Open flowers are only hardy to about 30°, meaning the first bloom is usually nipped by a late frost. The second crop is usually the largest and often the only one of the season. This is not as bad as it sounds, however. In my experience, fruits that ripen in the cooler temperatures of fall generally have the best color and flavor.
Lingonberries are self-pollinating, but cross-pollination will produce larger fruits that ripen earlier. Besides, mixing fruit of several varieties will tickle your palate with all the fine, tart nuances of lingonberry flavor.
Bumblebees are the best natural lingonberry pollinators. Plants need two to three years to begin bearing good crops, according to Diana MacKentley of St. Lawrence Nurseries in Potsdam, New York. But when the time comes — usually just in time for Thanksgiving — better have your recipes ready.
Lingonberries are slightly smaller than cranberries but otherwise look and are cooked the same. Flavor, however, is distinct. Pick the firm, deep red fruits and refrigerate immediately; sound fruit will keep for up to three weeks. Or wash, drain and freeze them for use later in the season.
These fruits are tart. Make them into jam for a superb roast goose and venison topping. Pancakes covered with lingonberry syrup are a Swedish tradition. Use them in any recipe that calls for cranberries. Lingonberries are very rich in vitamin C — Scandinavians and native tribes of northern Canada use the fruit as a cold remedy. The simplest preparation is lingonberry sauce: 3 cups washed fruits, 1 1/4 cups sugar and 1 cup water. Boil 10 minutes; skim and cool.
Planting and Care
Locate your planting in a sunny spot on land with good air circulation and soil drainage. My lingonberry garden has a southeastern exposure. It receives sun most of the day and yet is protected from the brutal northwest winds of winter by a thick blanket of drifted snow. The plants grow well in the acid soils of our region. The ideal is soil of pH 5 that is also high in organic matter.
According to research by Dr. Elden Stang, professor of horticulture at the University of Wisconsin, plants grow best when up to about seven pounds of peat moss is incorporated into each 100 square feet of row. Adding more does not increase plant growth substantially. Dr. Stang’s research plots were located on a loamy sand soil. In your garden, work in the peat moss or compost and adjust the pH during the fall prior to spring planting.
Order your plants early from a reputable nursery. Start with plants in either two-inch or one-gallon pots. Set them out after danger of severe spring cold has passed and the soil has dried sufficiently to be worked. In my garden, on the border of zones 4a and 3b, that’s late May.
Make the planting hole wide enough to accommodate all the roots without bending and set the plants as deeply as they grew in the pots, about 12 inches apart in rows spaced about 36 inches apart. Water them thoroughly to settle the soil about the roots.
By the second season, the plants will begin to spread, sending up shoots increasingly distant from the crown. In this respect, their growth habit resembles that of another cousin, the lowbush blueberry. The aim is to establish a hedgerow of plants about 18 inches in width.
According to MacKentley, weeds are the single biggest pest of small lingonberry plants. The best prevention is a two- to three-inch-deep mulch of sawdust, pine needles, chopped straw or peat moss that smothers young weeds. Otherwise, there is little the home gardener can do but pull them by hand and risk injuring the shallow roots of the new plants.
Mulched plants produce stronger growth and up to quadruple the yields of unmulched plants. Peat moss is far superior to sawdust or chopped straw, probably because it simulates the lingonberry’s natural soil environment. Place it a couple of inches deep around the young plants right after planting, and increase the thickness of this layer each year as the plants grow in height. Several inches of damp peat moss make a wonderful mulch for mature plants, and the plants’ rhizomes will actually spread through its lower layers.
Lingonberries require little fertilizer. In fact, excessive nitrogen will overstimulate vegetative growth and decrease fruitfulness. It may also interfere with hardening and increase winterkill.
How much is enough? If shoot growth seems vigorous and new shoots grow several inches and remain erect and rigid, fertility is about right. If growth is soft and rampant, with large dark green leaves, you have overfertilized. If shoots are short and the foliage is pale yellow or red during the growing season, plants need some fertilizer. In the North, I make it a rule to apply no fertilizer to fruit plants after the Fourth of July. Most woody plants have completed shoot growth by then, so the fertilizer will do little good. It could, however, stimulate excessive late growth that may not harden in time for winter.
Generally, a small handful of a complete fertilizer, such as 5-10-10, applied in a circle around a mature plant in the early spring, will be sufficient. Use smaller amounts for plants up to about three years old. Fish meal or dried blood are good organic nitrogen sources, but be sure to apply them very early in the spring. Precise amounts depend upon the site and vigor of the plants. If you pay enough attention to them, the plants will always tell you what to do.
Lingonberry, like its cousins, is sensitive to chlorides. Keep de-icing salt, water from chlorinated pools and fertilizers containing potassium chloride away from them.
Propagate plants in spring by splitting and separating a crown and transplanting clumps. It helps older plantings that have become crowded and unproductive. Plunge your spade deep, severing the plant’s root system and rhizomes. Lift the plant portion gently and transplant it to another area. That’s all there is to it. The only trick is to be sure that you leave part of the rhizome attached to the clump. Without it, the plant will not spread rapidly.
Except for the occasional removal of dead and damaged shoots every spring, lingonberries require no pruning.
Varieties of Lingonberry
Introduced in 1981, this is a very vigorous grower producing exceptional crops of large, light red fruits. It’s mild-flavored, in contrast to tart and tangy Koralle.
This Dutch variety is the most popular and provides most European commercial production. Attractive plants are upright and vigorous. The small to medium-sized fruits are highly flavored but somewhat tart. Often fruits of Koralle are blended with those of a more productive but mild-flavored variety such as Sussi.
This recently introduced (1983) Dutch variety produces large, mild-flavored fruits and appears to have resistance to Phytophthora root rot. Fruits ripen one to two weeks earlier than Koralle.
Selected by Dr. Elden Stang from seed collected in Finland, Regal is noted for its superior fruit size and early bearing.
This new Norwegian introduction produces some fruit but is mostly noted for producing abundant pollen, which makes it a valuable pollinator.
This Swedish variety is slow to establish but ultimately produces large red fruits abundantly.
Up in Fairbanks, out towards the Chena Hot Springs, my friend and I pulled over and went for a walk. Her passion is birding and her gaze was skyward. In contrast, I was looking down at what plants we were walking by, amazed by the huge amounts of lingonberries. Suddenly, it occurred to both of us that we were in perfect moose habitat and that looking mid-range every once in a while was a good idea.
We didn’t run into a moose or a bear, but I still think of that hike. I’ve never been in such a prolific lingonberry spot since then. I’ve found patches of them, like a nice area on Admiralty near Oliver’s Inlet where I almost picked enough. But, usually, I find a patch with just enough to get a taste and to wish for more.
Unlike cranberries, which are connected by a narrow vine with small leaves that are often faded and camouflaged, lingonberries are noticeable. The plant grows upright with eight to ten oval leaves that grow symmetrically up the stem. The leaves and berries create a stark contrast against the boggy areas where I’ve found them, usually near stumps. Just as holly berries stand out against the leaves, lingonberries provide the Christmas red to the evergreen leaves.
The berries grow in clusters, making them easy to harvest. They’re typically smaller and more oval than the low bush cranberries that grow in Southeast. Both of these berries are tart, though the lingonberries are less so than the cranberries. I’ve used them interchangeably, often mixing them together in recipes when I didn’t have enough of either of them to fulfill the measurement need.
If you find one lingonberry stem, you’ll often find more as they grow in clusters, spreading out from underground stems. Although they can grow as tall as 16 inches, I think of them as a four to six inch plant. As I said, I’ve been most successful locating them in boggy areas alongside trails here in Southeast. However, lingon is an old Norse name for heather, so also look for them in the alpine and in dense forest areas.
I’ve used lingonberries in orange cranberry muffins. I also make a lowbush cranberry sauce that I like to put on sweet potatoes instead of butter. However, my favorite way to use them is in a fall galette recipe that I modified from Sunset Magazine. A galette is like a pie, with a single crust that folds over along the sides, capturing the fruit and juices. With a small layer of aged cheddar or smoked gouda and layers of pears and lingonberries, the galette is baked with or without a caramelized topping.
A few weeks back I wrote an article about the different types of vaccinium. I need to modify my accounting because lingonberry, or the other common names it goes by, is actually vaccinium vitis-idaea. So, Southeast Alaska has not seven, but eight types of vaccinium. I hope that you find a patch that will give you more than just a taste but remember to look up occasionally to see what’s around you.
• Corinne Conlon is a freelance writer based out of Juneau. She can be reached at [email protected]
Cold Hardy Ground Cover With Delicious Berries
Lingonberries are favored all over the world for their aesthetic appeal as a beautiful ground cover plant perfect for framing gardens. Also, the berries are delectable and sweet, yet tart.
Often described as the American Cranberry’s sweeter and juicier cousin, Lingonberries have a rich berry flavor similar to raspberries and cranberries with an irresistible sour zing. In other countries Lingonberries greatly outweigh the use of cranberries during traditional holiday meals.
They’re extremely popular to use in jams, muffins and scones, because people can’t get enough of their unique berry flavor. By snacking on them fresh or adding them to cereal or yogurt you’ll be adding an irresistible sweet and sour berry flavor to your favorite recipes, as well as tons of nutrients.
Each Lingonberry is packed with Vitamin A, Vitamin C, B vitamins, Calcium, Potassium and more to give your immune system a boost, and to fill you with energy. A handful of berries are all it takes to fill your favorite recipes with flavor and nutrition.
You will never run out of Lingonberries because they have two harvests, one in the midsummer and a second in the early fall. Simply step outside and pick the vibrant red berries from your attractive ground cover plant
Ice, snow, poor soil, droughts and more can’t stop the tough and low maintenance Lingonberry from pumping out fruit and beauty. It will grow almost anywhere in the country and can survive freezing temperatures down to -40 degrees.
By only growing about 1 to 2 feet tall, and 1 to 2 feet wide Lingonberries are perfect for framing porches and flowerbeds. They accent your yard without taking over. Their dark glossy leaves serve as a lush backdrop for brightly colored flowers to pop against.
Lingonberries even have vibrant whitish-pink bell shaped blossoms that pop against their dark foliage. Once you see the beautiful flowers you will be filled with awe from their beauty, and excitement because soon bright red berries will be on their way.
Planting & Care
Lingonberries (Vaccinium vitis-idaea) are related to the blueberry and cranberry family. They’re typically grown in cooler, northern climates and can thrive in coastal areas with mild summers. These fantastic, edible, evergreen ground-covers produce delicious cranberry-like fruit great for sauces, jellies and cooking. Beloved by Scandinavians, lingonberries are attractive, easy to grow plants with bright red berries equal to the size of a small blueberry. Lingonberry bushes are self pollinating but you will have a far better fruit yield by having them planted in pairs.
Choosing a location: Although lingonberries do well in partial shade, try to plant them in a full sun location with a well draining soil. Lingonberries can withstand arctic temperatures but in very severe climates, they can be covered with peat or sawdust in the winter. They do not care for an alkaline soil so try to do a soil test and be sure that it’s a pH of 5.8 or lower. USDA Zones 3-8 are the optimal lingonberry growing locations, but these plants can be potted as well.
Planting Directions (in ground): One of the best times to plant a new lingonberry is right after the spring cold has passed and the soil has sufficiently dried.
1) Make your hole twice the width of the root ball and just as deep in a nice, sunny location.
2) Amend compost into the soil for a boost in nutrients and to improve the drainage of the spot.
3) Leave a couple inches of the compost on the soil’s surface. Using a gardening fork (or tiller), mix it into the soil.
4) Water the planting site thoroughly to settle the soil and then apply 2-3 inches of mulch to conserve moisture.
Planting directions (potted):
1) Select a potting soil that has a high content of peat moss. Lingonberries love a pH of about 5.0 for their soil. The high content of peat moss will be perfect for them.
2) Use a 3 inch layer of sawdust as mulch to help conserve moisture. These prefer a constantly moist soil so be sure to water frequently.
3) Put next to a South facing window for a full sun exposure, they do best in full sun.
4) Container grown lingonberries should produce twice yearly. Spring will provide a small fruit yield and there should be a larger yield in the summer season.
Watering: Avoid letting the soil dry completely between waterings. A consistent watering schedule will produce the best results for the bush regardless of the season. For the first year you will want to water with just under an inch of water per week (1 inch of rainfall is equal to about one gallon of water). After the berry bush gets settled/established, it will only require about a half inch (1/2 gallon) of water per week. Consistency is KEY to the best results with your lingonberry bush.
*Tip* Adding mulch around the base of the bush helps conserve moisture as well as combat the lingonberries biggest enemy, competing weeds.
Pruning: Lingonberry bushes are very easy to maintain in terms for pruning. For the first few years the bush will require little to no attention other than the removal of dried out, dead limbs. Cut back about 6-8 vigorous canes around mid June to late July after the bush begins bearing regularly.
Fertilizing: Once the plants are in the ground, they will not require much fertilizing. Too much nitrogen boosts growth in the late fall, followed by plant dieback, leaving you a reduced crop. If the plants are growing several inches of new growth each year, avoid fertilizing them. If they lack growth, feed them with a low nitrogen organic fertilizer such as a 5-10-10 formula or compost. Potted berry bushes will require little to no fertilizing.
Harvesting: Color is what will best determine the time for harvesting the lingonberries. Unripened fruit will have a very bitter taste to them. The ripened berries will have an acidic, yet tart taste, quite similar to a cranberry. The fruit will last roughly three weeks if kept refrigerated. It can also be dried, frozen or canned.
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Anyone who’s been to a certain Swedish furniture store is likely to know the lingonberry. These small red berries show up in every meal at their in-store restaurant. Skip the oddly-named jam and grow lingonberry plants at home to make your own!
Rich in antioxidants, the lingon falls into the category of superfoods. Studies are showing that it may aid in digestive health, weight control, and heart health. Blood sugar management may be easier with this bright red fruit. And there’s other possible benefits, too!
Today, we’re teaming up with Kellogg Garden Products to talk berries. It’s possible to grow this diminutive plant in most of the northern United States. Even those in warmer climates may have a shot at shade-growing it in the right soil blend!
Prepared Soil & Fertilizer For Growing Lingonberry Plants:
- G&B Acid Planting Mix
- Kellogg Garden Organics Shade Mix For Acid Loving Plants
- G&B Organics Rhododendron, Azalea & Camellia Fertilizer
Pest And Disease Control Products For This Plant:
- Safer Brand Yard & Garden Spray
- Monterey Garden Insect Spray
- Garden Safe Neem Oil Concentrate
- Safer Brand Garden Dust Insect Killer
- Monterey BT Biological Insecticide
- Serenade Garden Disease Control
- Monterey Liqui-Cop Liquid Copper Fungicide
Lingonberries: Quick Care Guide
Lingonberry plants are compact and look great in gardens. Source: jkymis72
|Scientific Name(s):||Vaccinium viitis-idaea subsp. minus or majus|
|Common Name(s):||Lingonberries plus an extensive list of other colorful names|
|Light:||Full sun to partial shade|
|Water:||Evenly-moist soil, between 2.5-4.5 gallons per week per cubic yard|
|Temperature:||Tolerant of low temps, thrives between 40-80 degrees|
|Soil:||Acid mix, such as G&B Organics Acid Planting Mix|
|Fertilizer:||Annual feeding of low-strength acid fertilizer|
|Pests:||Cucumber beetle, lingonberry fruitworm, armyworm, and others|
|Diseases:||Leaf spots, botrytis blossom blight, phytophthora root rot|
All About Lingonberries
These bell-shaped flowers can be white, pink, or a mix of both. Source: Derek P.
The majority of the annual worldwide crop of Vaccinium vitis-idaea is actually wild-grown in cooler climates. In recent years, farming of the plant is becoming a bit more common, especially with rising demand.
Its origins are widespread. Much of the northmost portions of the northern hemisphere have wild lingonberry plants. In the United States and Canada, a dwarf form grows wild. In Europe, the plant grows a bit larger but still hugs the ground.
Tiny leaves, no more than a half-inch in length at their largest, grow from tendril-like stems. Over time the base of the plant becomes woody, but it produces fresh growth each year. Small berries form on year-old growth.
The delicate bell-shaped flowers are a source of much delight. These tiny white or pink blossoms are only a fraction of an inch in size. They flower throughout the spring and early summer, then shift to fruiting.
Tolerant of sandy, poor soil conditions, the lingon also survives through extreme cold. It’s a bit sensitive to hot climates, but can still be grown as an understory plant or shade plant in warmer locales. The dwarf form may even serve as a ground cover plant.
Rhizomatic roots spread out beneath the soil’s surface and enable the plant to spread in size. The runner plants are easily divisible to be replanted elsewhere.
Acidity is key for this vaccinium, much like with all other vaccinium species. Without acidic soil, it just won’t thrive. It also can be a bit finicky to get started. Once it’s established, it stubbornly clings to life!
Two Subspecies, One Fruit
Clusters of bell-shaped flowers form from spring through summer. Source: Ole Husby
There are two forms which the plant takes: a dwarf form, and its full-size counterpart.
Most plants throughout Europe and eastward are the full-size version, Vaccinium vitis-idaea subsp. majus. These grow to a height of 12-18″, with a spread of roughly 24″. They can form a short hedgerow once they’ve densely populated their bed.
The majus subspecies is often seen growing in rocky, difficult environments. Poor soil nutrition isn’t a problem for them. Most plants will survive cold down to -40, although they may lose buds or berries in frozen conditions.
In the Americas, a dwarf variation is more common. Vaccinium vitis-idaea subsp. minus is often called American lingonberry. It grows to be only 4-6″ in height, and plants spread to roughly 12″ across.
This understory plant is most commonly found in peaty, cool environments. It also thrives in the cold months, and is quite common in Canada and the northern US.
Both varieties can be grown in warmer climates as well, although they may not fruit as heavily. Most lingonberry species need to have at least 300-400 hours of cold conditions in the winter. Some need as much as 800 hours of cold.
A Plant With Many Names
One of the interesting things about this plant is its diversity of names. As it is found in many different locations, the common names are extensive!
For vaccinium vitis-idaea subsp. minus, those names include:
Dwarf lingonberry, American lingonberry, mossberry, partridgeberry, mountain cranberry, groundberry, or kimminnait.
Vaccinium vitis-idaea subsp. majus has even more names! Their list includes:
Regardless of whether you want to call it a lingonberry plant or a whimberry, you’ve got plenty of common names to choose from!
Unripened berries have a green to yellow color. Source: jiihaa
For vaccinium vitis-idaea subsp. minus, there’s only one variety. It has not been widely cultivated for commercial growing as of yet. Because of this, they all tend to have white to very slightly pink flowers and an identical growth habit.
With vaccinium vitis-idaea subsp. majus, there’s at least 16 varieties, with more being developed as time goes on. Let’s discuss some of the most popular choices by region!
In the Americas, one of the most popular varieties is Erntesegen. Cultivated in Europe, it tolerates the widest range of growing conditions. Erntesegen is also one of the most tolerant of hotter conditions as well as bitter chills.
Other American or Canadian varieties include Koralle (known for its heavy production), Scarlett (known for crayon-red berries), Ida (which often produces two harvests per year), Balsgard (a European cultivar which has gained popularity in the US), and Red Pearl (an excellent pollenizer).
In Europe and northern Asia, most of those varieties are available excepting Scarlett, which seems to be unique to the US and Canada. Other cultivars there are Regal, Splendor, Erntedank, and Ammerland. These four varieties are heavy farm producers and are often referred to in research on the plant.
No matter which cultivar you choose, the berries will tend to be similar in size. The plant’s size will vary between varieties, but the fruit will be very similar in flavor profile.
For good pollination purposes, having plants of more than one cultivar is recommended. While lingon berries are somewhat self-fruitful, cross-pollination can increase harvest size dramatically.
A young lingonberry plant, about to be planted in G&B Acid Planting Mix.
Mossberry plants like a very specific set of growing conditions. This doesn’t mean they can’t adapt to other conditions over time, though! They may be finicky until well-established, so take time to plan in advance. They’ll be tender at first, but will gradually harden off to your garden conditions.
When To Plant
Cool-season planting is best for your foxberry plants. I recommend early spring for cooler climates, or mid-to-late fall for warmer ones. This gives their tender roots time to get established before weather changes hit.
Where To Plant
Planting locations will depend on your climate conditions.
In cooler climates (zones 4-6), full sun conditions are perfect. The direct sunlight aids in fruit production as well. As they are rhizomatic plants, they will spread, so pick a location where they have some space.
In zones 7-8, full sun is usually fine, but partial shade in the afternoon will also work. The goal is to try to keep your plants from having intense heat during the peak of summer.
It’s possible to grow partridgeberry in zone 9. Partial shade is absolutely required for your plants in this hotter climate. Pick a sheltered area that will get early to mid-morning sun. Use shade cloth in the hotter months to prevent sun damage to the foliage. They will be more finicky in this environment, so keep a watchful eye on your plants.
Raised beds are perfect for growing your plants in. As long as they’re 6-8″ deep, you’ll have plenty of space in which they can grow. The sides of the bed will prevent excess runner spread.
How To Plant
Plant your berries at the same depth they were in the pot. Water in well.
When planting, you must provide an acidic environment. Before you plant, ensure your soil is acidic, and that it has plenty of organic material to help keep the soil moist. The roots only go down a few inches, but prepare the soil to 8″ deep.
I’ll go deeper into soil composition and make some recommendations in the soil section below. There are options available that are almost custom-built for your plant’s needs.
With gentle hands, remove your plant from its nursery pot. Be careful not to break up the soil around the tender root system. The roots will spread out on their own once planted.
Set the plant in the soil at the same planting depth it was in its nursery pot. Fill in around the plant with your acidic potting mix, barely covering its nursery soil. Water it in, then add 2-3″ of peat moss mulch on the soil’s surface as a mulch. Work it in around the plant’s base.
Full-sized plants should be spaced 12″-18″ apart, as they can grow to a width of 18″-24″ to form a solid hedge. Dwarf plants should be spaced 8″-12″ apart, and will create a low-lying ground cover over time.
Can Lingonberries Be Grown From Seed?
Yes, but it’s difficult and slow. Most people find it easier to start with live plants.
With lingonberries, you will need to start with over-ripe berries. As they ripen, the tiny seeds develop inside. The older the berry, the more formed the seeds within.
Gently crush the berries in a cup of water and allow them to ferment. They will need to ferment without drying out for at least two weeks and up to a month.
During this time, the remaining berry pulp and bad seeds will float up to the surface. Good seeds will sink to the bottom. You can skim off the gunk that forms on the top once at least two weeks have passed.
Once fermentation has ended, skim off any remaining gunk and drain off most of the water into a container. Be sure to do this carefully so you don’t lose the tiny lingonberry seeds. You can then pour the seeds and the remaining water through a coffee filter to catch the seeds.
The day you strain out your seeds is the day you’ll need to plant them. Do not let them dry out post-fermentation. Use a mix of 2 parts moistened peat moss to one part perlite as a starter mix.
Plant up to 10 seeds per container, placing them on the soil’s surface. Do not cover them with soil. Instead, place a clear greenhouse cover on top to keep humidity in. Keep them in a cool, but bright location as light’s required for your plants to germinate.
Keep the soil moist. The covers should remain on top of your plants until they’re starting to push up against the plastic. At that point, gradually introduce more air until they acclimate to less humidity. Take your time, as they will need to adapt to their new conditions.
Young plants will be extremely fragile and delicate. They bruise easily and are very susceptible to changes in temperature and lighting.
Your plants should remain indoors in a bright, but cool environment for their first year. If they begin to become crowded in their pot, you can transplant them into a larger one using the same soil mix. Harden them off slowly to outdoor conditions before transplanting them outside.
Caring For Lingonberry Plants
Ready for picking, these berries are just about ripe. Source: abejorro34
If you live in the right place, lingonberries are incredibly easy to grow.
Unfortunately, the right place tends to be where the plants are native. For the rest of us, we need to provide the right conditions for plant success ourselves.
Here’s my best recommendations to keep your groundberry lushly green and fruiting well!
Sun & Temperature
Sun is both a blessing and a curse depending on your area of the world. In northern climates, full sun is perfect! But the farther south you go, the more the sun becomes a liability.
Much of the issue is due to the sun’s intensity. Hot sunlight can cause scorching, especially on newer leaves.
For good fruiting, the more “safe” light you can provide, the better. Full sun conditions prompt flowering, which results in berries! But if you’re in zones 7-8, opt for a little afternoon sun. In zone 9, shade cloth may be required to reduce UV rays and provide heat relief.
Young plants are more fragile and may be at risk from temperature changes. Even then, the whimberry is more in danger of heat than cold. If you can maintain the conditions for your plant at 80 degrees or less, it’s most likely to survive and thrive.
On the cold spectrum, established plants can survive even through extreme cold. Mulch with at least 3″ of peat moss before winter to add extra warmth for the roots. Frosts and freezes may cause flowers to drop off. The plant itself will survive negative temperatures, some varieties even as low as -30!
A snow blanket may form on top of your plants in the winter. That’s okay – the snow provides a layer of insulation from wind chill.
Water & Humidity
Consistent, even soil moisture is best for your cowberries. While will accept brief periods of boggy conditions, they prefer not to have wet feet.
Established plants need around 2.5-4.5 gallons of water per square yard each week. Newly-transplanted plants may need slightly higher amounts of water to assist with growth.
Drip or soaker irrigation is best, as it keeps the leaves dry. If you do top-water, be sure to water early in the day to allow the plants time to dry out.
Mulching helps to prevent the soil from drying out rapidly. It’s especially needed in the heat of summer when the ground is prone to drying out.
Humidity is not a major issue for lingonberries. In fact, they seem to like slightly-damp air as long as there’s good airflow around the plants. Seeds must have high humidity conditions to get started. Established plants will expand via runners under the soil’s surface.
G&B Acid Planting Mix is a great choice for growing your berries! It provides the perfect acidity level, and retains moisture without getting muddy. Kellogg Garden Organics Shade Mix is another great choice.
Much like blueberries and cranberries, the lingonberry requires acidic soil to thrive. A pH level of 4.3 to 5.5 is preferred for fruiting, but they can survive in levels nearing the low end of neutral. Anything above 6 isn’t good for this plant.
The acidity helps the plant to produce better fruit. And, as many people grow their berries in containers or raised beds, starting with the right acid blend is essential. I highly recommend G&B Organics Acid Planting Mix.
Formulated specifically for acid-loving, shade-dwelling plants, this mix is almost custom-built for your berries. Recycled forest products, bark fines, and peat moss ensure good moisture retention. Fine sand guarantees that it drains excess liquid off with ease. And it’s been amended with worm castings, kelp meal, bat guano, and kapok seed meal as fertilizers.
Lingonberries, blueberries, cranberries and currants all produce high quality fruit in this mix. Some citrus trees also produce sweeter fruit in it. Flowering plants like azalea, gardenia and hydrangea will burst with color and thrive.
If you cannot find G&B Organics Acid Planting Mix near you, don’t fret: there’s another option for you!
Kellogg Garden Organics Shade Mix will also provide the right environment. It utilizes sphagnum peat moss and bark fines as a well-draining but moisture-retaining base. For fertilization, it uses hydrolyzed feather meal and dehydrated poultry manure.
Starting out with one of these premade acid mixes is a recipe for success with your plants. And, since lingonberries can be a bit finicky to get started, this makes it easier to begin!
This isn’t to say that you can’t blend your own soil blend. Testing your soil pH is an important first step in that process. You’ll also need to know your soil type. Heavy clay soil can be difficult to acidify, and may need elemental sulfur to remedy.
Whatever soil blend you opt for, you want it to hold a decent amount of moisture while draining off any excess. It should have lots of organic material, allowing for good aeration, and should be loose instead of clay-like. And, of course, it’s essential that it’s in the acidic range.
After watering in your plants, build a 2-3″ peat moss mulch layer around them. This simulates their natural environment.
I consider mulching to be an absolute necessity for lingonberry plants. They’re too much at risk from weed invasion. But you’ll need an acidic mulch for them.
Peat moss mimics the natural soil conditions in areas where the plant grows wild. In so doing, it helps the plants to thrive through many imperfect growing conditions.
It provides a dense, acidic topper which will prevent most weed growth. As the root system of your lingons is within a couple inches of the soil’s surface, weeds can crowd out your plants. 2″-3″ of peat moss will prevent most weed germination.
Moisture-retention in the soil is also improved. This is doubly important if you’re in a climate which is on the warmer side of the lingen range. Keeping the moisture from evaporating away is important.
Finally, it decomposes into the soil, maintaining the acidity of your soil blend. Topping your mulch up regularly will keep your plants happy and healthy.
Fertilizing this mountain cranberry plant can be tricky as well. Lingonberry plants aren’t able to take in the nitrate forms of nitrogen. They prefer the acidifying ammonium form.
Because of this, it’s important to use a fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants. Fertilizers meant for blueberries are perfect, as they already use a form of nitrogen your plants can uptake.
You can also use G&B Organics Rhododendron, Azalea, & Camellia Fertilizer, which is formulated for acid-loving plants. It’s a living fertilizer containing beneficial microbes and mycorrhizae to enhance your soil and strengthen your plants. OMRI-listed, it includes only organic materials: a blend of alfalfa meal, kelp meal, feather meal, bone meal, dehydrated manure, humic acid, elemental sulfur, and sulfate of potash.
You should be fertilizing in the early spring before the plant begins to put out new growth. Go on the low end of the range suggested by your fertilizer manufacturer. Your plants won’t need much!
You can easily tell if you’ve provided too much or too little fertilizer. Too much fertilizer will result in fast growth, large dark green leaves, and little fruit. Too little, and your plant’s leaves may turn yellow or red during the growing season and lack vigor.
These berries form rhizomatous runners underground to spread.
Propagation is done via seed, cuttings, or division. The plant also naturally spreads on its own via its rhizomes, or runners.
I described the complex seed process in the planting section above. But let’s talk about the others in more detail.
Select a potential healthy stem for your stem cutting that’s at least 4″ in length. You’ll want one that looks vigorous and that is new growth on the plant. Avoid any which are woody or are from the prior year’s growth.
Cut it at the base of the stem, then strip off all but the top inch of leaves. Dip the bottom of the stem in water, then into a powdered rooting hormone. Use a pencil to make a hole in a prepared soil mix, then insert your cutting. Gently tuck the soil around the stem to hold it in place. I like to use a blend of 2 parts peat moss to 1 part perlite for these cuttings.
Keep your cutting in a humid environment with bright, but indirect lighting. The temperature should remain cool. Ensure the potting mix remains moist, and within a month it should begin to form roots.
Treat it as you would a lingonberry seedling. Be careful not to change its conditions too rapidly!
The easiest way to propagate is via root division. Select a large and healthy plant, and use a clean, sharpened shovel to cut down the center of the plant. Gently remove the plant and its rhizomes and replant it elsewhere. Keep it in the same conditions as the parent plant was in.
Most lingonberries are very self-regulating in size. Pruning is often unnecessary. You can remove any dead stems, or do cosmetic trimming, but the plant won’t need more than that!
Dwarf lingonberries seldom get more than 6 inches at their maximum height. Others can grow 12-18″ tall. Their width is usually around double their max height.
If your plant has reached its full size and is starting to get a bit leggy, you can do light trimming. Keep it around its normal preferred height and width. But even then, removing dead stems is usually the most you’ll need to do for maintenance.
These tart little berry plants are great companions for larger acid-loving berries. They make a great understory plant for highbush blueberries, for example. Dwarf varieties look beautiful underneath currant hedges, too.
One thing to be aware of is that they do not compete well with weeds or shallow-rooted flowers. Their spreading roots and runners are only a couple inches below the surface. Other surface-dwelling plants will compete with the berries for nutrition.
Don’t forget that there’s many types of these berry plants. You can make a tiered bed by growing taller species behind dwarf plants. They’re great companions for themselves!
These young plants are prepared for success! Peat moss mulch over G&B Acid Planting Mix gives them the perfect start.
Harvesting & Storing Your Fruit
So you’ve managed to get berries to develop on your plants! That’s great! But now, you’ll need to know when and how to harvest and store your berries. Let’s discuss that.
For the first year after planting, don’t harvest your lingons. The berries will be a bit small, and the harvest will not be good. It’s best to let those berries drop into your mulch. They may produce new plants there!
Starting with the second year, watch your plants. When the berries are firm and completely red in color, you can pick them. They may ripen all at once, or slowly over a few weeks’ time in the late summer, depending on cultivar. Typically, this will happen in September.
In warmer regions, the plant may produce two harvests. If it does, one will be mid-summer, and the other will be in the late fall. You’ll see plants flowering again in the summer if your plant is going to produce more!
To harvest only ripe fruit, it’s best to pick by hand. If you’re trying to do a large harvest all at once, you can use a berry rake to harvest all the berries, ripe and unripe. Those which are unripe will ripen even after being picked.
Lingonberry plants vary on the quantity of berries widely by cultivar. The conditions they’re grown in also impact the harvest. However, a good rule of thumb is that if they’re producing well, there will be 1/2 to 1 pound of berries per plant per year. If your plants produce a second harvest, this may slightly increase. Hot climates may see smaller harvests or none at all if the plant became heat-stressed.
With a name like mountain cranberry, one expects them to act similarly. And as far as storage goes, they do. Much like cranberries, store your lingons in a plastic bag with ventilation holes. They can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a month, but taste better when fresh.
The partridgeberry resembles its cousin in another way as well. These are typically tart berries. While one can eat them fresh, they are often used to cook with or make sauces or syrups. Once they have been cooked, try to use the open containers within a week’s time.
Freezing is the most common way to preserve these, as it maintains the shape of the berry. They freeze extremely well.
Drying through either dehydration or freeze-drying is also common. The fruits can be rehydrated later, or can be powdered for use in other foodstuff.
Canned lingonberry in jams, jellies, and syrup is quite popular, too. This is how many people in the United States were first introduced to this less-common fruit!
Troubleshooting Lingonberry Plants
Many lingonberry problems are solved by having the right soil blend.
Very few pests are likely to cause damage to your plants themselves, but there are diseases to watch for. And of course, there’s a variety of random growing problems which might happen. Here’s how to handle them when they arise.
Foliage which yellows or reddens in the spring or summer months is not uncommon. It’s sometimes accompanied with slow growth. Generally, this is caused by too little fertilization. A yearly application of a light fertilizer in early spring should remedy this.
If your plant’s leaves are larger than normal and it’s experiencing rapid growth, it may be a sign of too much fertilizer. This is generally a sign of too much nitrogen. A high-nitrogen environment can also cause low fruiting. Reduce the amount of nitrogen in your fertilizer to stop this problem.
Heat stress can also result in low fruiting, as can lack of pollination or cross-pollination. Make your beds attractive to pollinators, and ensure they’re cool. In hotter environments, provide shade for the plants. Planting more than one variety of lingons can improve pollination.
In the fall and winter, it’s not uncommon to see leaves turning purplish in color. This is usually a sign of the plant using the chlorophyll that it’d stored in its leaves. It’s not going to cause any harm, and isn’t a danger to the plant.
Generally, lingonberries are relatively pest-free. But the few which may be attracted can be a real pain!
Cucumber beetles may be a problem. The Western spotted cucumber beetle and striped cucumber beetles are found in Oregon fields. These need immediate response before they can lay eggs, as the larvae attack the roots. Adults feed on lingon foliage. Pyrethrin sprays and spinosad sprays are both useful for these pests.
Some sucking insects, such as aphids, mealybugs, or whiteflies, have been observed. They don’t seem to do much damage, but may be at risk of spreading diseases. Pyrethrins will help on these as well, but neem oil is a good second choice.
Lingonberry fruitworm is common in Canada and other areas abroad. These larvae of a small moth species will burrow into the fruit. They don’t cause damage to the plant itself. Still, they are hard to detect, and may cause damage to your fruit. You probably won’t know you have them until you find them in your harvest.
Armyworms may also be a problem. You can easily tell you have them as your plant’s leaves begin to get munched on! They can rapidly defoliate your plants.
For both lingonberry fruitworms and armyworms, use a powdered form of bacillus thurigiensis. This bacteria, often abbreviated to BT, will kill off these larvae. You will need to re-dust your plants after rain. Liquid versions of BT may also be effective.
Don’t expect all of your pests to be of the insect variety. Deer, elk, and moose will browse on lingonberry plants. Rodents such as mice, rats, or squirrels will raid the bed as well. And birds can be a real pain when the berries are ripe.
Bacterial leaf spot is the most common disease issue for most lingen plants. An application of a product that contains bacillus subtilis can be used. This provides an organic solution for most leaf spot diseases. Copper-based fungicides may also be effective.
Fungal leaf spots are particularly problematic as well. They can be treated almost identically to bacterial ones.
Botrytis blossom blight is another problem. More common in humid environments or when top-watering plants, it is fungal in origin. It will cause a greyish mold to form on the flowers and fruit. It’s also treatable with bacillus subtilis or copper fungicides.
What’s not as easily treated is phytophthora root rot. Caused when the soil does not drain well, this fungal root rot can be fatal to your plants. Yellowing or browning leaves may appear, and the plant’s growth slows or stops. Over time, continued rot will cause plant failure. Ensure you’ve got well-draining soil to prevent this issue!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Should I avoid any particular things around my lingonberry plants?
A: Yes! Avoid nitrate-based nitrogen fertilizers as the plant cannot take up nitrates well. Also, your berries are sensitive to chlorides. Avoid using fertilizers which have potassium chloride in them. Also keep chloride-based ice melts away from your beds. Don’t plant your berries near swimming pools or other sources of chlorinated water.
In the end, growing your own lingonberry plants is enjoyable. They’re a perennial evergreen which can have red berries well into the winter months. They’re tasty, too! If you’re trying to develop an edible garden, this long-lived plant can be a worthy addition.
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If you are looking for an easy to grow berry plant that is low maintenance and cold hardy, try the lingonberry. The lingonberry bush is an attractive plant that is most often grown for its tart- flavored, healthful berries.
The berries are packed with Vitamin C making them a newer addition to the list of amazing superfoods to grow. With a little bit of preparation, lingonberries make delicious jellies and sauces to accompany your breakfast, lunch, or dinner entrees.
The lingonberry plant is more than just a great edible choice. This low growing evergreen plant is good looking. It blooms in the spring with very dainty bell shaped flowers in white or pink. It spreads over the ground and crawls underground via runners, too. It is an independent plant that prefers to be left alone to flourish. As it develops as a groundcover, it will keep weeds at bay.
Lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea) is best suited for growing in U.S. Department of Agriculture Hardiness Zones 2 through 6. It is native to the cold climates of the North, from the northern states in the U.S. and up into Canada, stretching east to Iceland, then over the river and through the woods to the Scandinavian countries. They are found throughout parts Northern Asia all the way around to Japan. Lingonberry continues to be an immensely popular food staple in many of its native areas. It is a currently rising trend in other areas.
How to Grow and Care for Lingonberry
A lingonberry plant can be acquired at a local nursery. While lingonberry bushes are self pollinating, selecting two varieties that can cross pollinate will produce a higher yield and increase the size of your berries.
Lingonberries, like their relative blueberry and cranberry bushes, love acidic soil. Even if you have acidic soil, add a little extra for good measure. Amend peat moss or pine bark mulch to your soil to prepare it for planting.
Your lingonberry bush will love a sunny location. Place your plant’s root ball into a hole you have dug that is two times the width of the roots. Use peat moss to fill in the hole, and water well.
For the first year, your plant will require just less than an inch of water every week. Your plant should not be allowed to dry between watering. Consistent moisture will produce the best result. Once your plant is established, its water needs will decrease to about a half an inch every week. Again, consistency is vital.
You will need to wait 4 or 5 years for your plant to mature and producing berries at its peak. When they appear, wait to harvest them after the first hard frost. You might have to compete with your local wildlife for your lingonberries. You might have to get creative and devise a method to ensure that you get to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Over the winter, your lingonberry bush will take comfort from the cold under a blanket of snow. However, if you live in an area where it is often 10 degrees or below and your plant does not receive consistent protection by snow, provide a mulch covering for your plant to safeguard it from freezing.
Every spring, feed your growing lingonberry plant some acidic fertilizer. Incorporate a couple of inches of organic matter or peat moss into the top several inches of soil around the bush.
Lingonberry Pests and Problems
The lingonberry bush is a hardy, disease free plant. It is susceptible to a few “pests”- birds, raccoons, and foxes to name a few. Also, since it is a low growing bush, be sure to keep weeds away from the plants so they are not choked out and competing for soil nutrients. Be careful weeding around the lingonberries to protect their roots and runners.
Lingonberry Varieties to Consider
‘Balsgard’ is a high yielding, vigorous variety. It is slow growing, so it ripens later than other plants, but its berries are large and worth the wait- in flavor.
‘Koralle’ is another high yielding variety that is grown as an ornamental edible in the U.S. The berries are tangy in flavor and average to large in size.
To learn more about growing and using lingonberries, visit:
The Lowdown on Lingonberries from Cornell University Cooperative Extension
Lowbush Cranberries or Lingonberries from University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service
New Farm Lingonberry
New Farm Lingonberry
- Plant height is 12 to 15 inches at maturity.
- A small flower set occurs in July with an abundant flowering occurring in September. The plants are medium to high yields.
- Fruits are medium to large and deep to light red.
- Foliage is healthy and has shown no disease symptoms.
Lingonberries are close relatives to the blueberry and cranberry. The plants are native in some areas of North America, and are most abundantly found in the Scandinavian countries of Europe. The small red fruits are known to be very high in anti-oxidants with documented research that shows fruits contain an extreme abundance of nutrients. The fruits have a fresh aroma and the flavor is mostly tart with a slight sweetness. Fruits have a firm skin and can be stored for several month at cold temperatures.
Latin Name: Vaccinium vitis-idea
Site and Soil: New Farm Lingonberry likes 1/2 day to full with filtered shade in hot region and moist acidic, well-drained soil
Pollination Requirements: New Farm Lingonberry is self-fertile but plant with Red Pearl or any other Lingonberry for cross pollination and better crops.
Hardiness: hardy to -45° F.
Bearing Age: Our plants are of bearing age at time of sale
Size at Maturity: 12″ tall and forms a great ground-cover
Bloom Time: summer and throughout fall
Ripening Time: Fall
Yield: 10 lbs of fruit per square yard of row
Pests & Diseases: Lingonberry is not bothered by pest or disease.
USDA Zone: 2-7
Lingonberry: An Attractive Landscape Plant and a Unique Small Fruit
Frequently home owners seek native plants that are attractive, interesting, unusual and easy to care for that also can fit into their landscape. Lingonberry is such a plant. It also produces fruit that are strikingly similar in taste and appearance to it’s close relative, the cranberry. It grows 12 to 18 inch high. It is an evergreen shrub that is native to the northern regions of North America and Europe. Plants spread by underground rhizomes, thus making lingonberry a very good candidate as a ground cover or continuous border. It is also known as cowberry or foxberry.
There are two types of lingonberries available. The North American type, Vaccinium vitis-idaea variety minus is low growing and blooms only in the spring. The European and Asian type, Vaccinium vitis variety majorus is slightly taller, has larger leaves and flowers and blooms twice each year. This is the type that is most commonly found for sale at nurseries, and is the one that this article will focus on.
Lingonberry flowers are small pinkish flowers that appear in clusters at the tips of 1-year-old wood. The May bloom produces fruit that ripens in July. Flowers are quite frost sensitive so the first crop is often small due to frost. The second crop, which ripens in October, is generally larger and the fruit are of much higher quality because they ripen at a cooler time of year. Fruit are deep red and similar to, but slightly smaller than, a cranberry. Once harvested, fruit should be refrigerated immediately or frozen for later use. Culinarily, they are used in a similar manner to cranberry.
Site and Soil
Lingonberries should be planted in a sunny location. Partial shade is acceptable, but less desirable. Soil should be well drained and have a pH near 5.0. Often the pH of garden soils is much higher so the pH must be lowered. Experts suggest incorporating 7 to 10 pounds per 100 square feet of peat moss into the soil and lowering the pH to 5.0 with elemental sulfur, that is available at most garden centers. Soil preparation and pH adjustment should be done in the fall if planting in the spring is anticipated.
Planting and Culture
Purchase potted plants since their survival rate is much higher. Lingonberries are self pollinating but you will get larger fruit, and it will ripen earlier, if more than one variety is selected. Plant in the spring as soon as the soil has dried out enough to be worked without compacting the soil. Plants should be spaced about 12 inches apart in rows spaced 3 to 4 feet apart. Plants should be mulched after planting to help control weeds, aid in maintaining an acidic soil, and to provide a favorable environment for the plants to grow in. Lingonberries increase in size by rhizome growth and this is encouraged by a soil environment that is high in organic matter. Peat moss, partially decomposed sawdust or bark mulch are the most desirable types of mulch. Mulches that are treated with preservative to prevent decomposition are poor choices for lingonberries. Mulch should be renewed yearly in the spring by applying at least a 2 inch layer around and between plants. During dry periods, plants should be watered. Plant growth is generally slow during the first year when the root system is being established. Plants will start to produce fruit in 2 to 3 years.
Lingonberries require little fertilizer. It is advisable to apply a liquid fertilizer 2 to 3 weeks after planting. If the mulch that is used is not partially decomposed, it is advisable to apply additional liquid nitrogen periodically to prevent nitrogen deficiency the first year. In subsequent years a small amount of complete fertilizer (eg. 5-10-10) may be placed around each plant at bloom and again about 1 month later. If available, ammonium sulfate would be a more appropriate choice as a nitrogen source, since the sulfur in this fertilizer will help keep the pH low. In the early years, little or no pruning is required. As plants fill their space, it may be appropriate to cut plants down to about 2 to 3 inches above the mulch very early in the spring. This will stimulate plant growth and improve fruit size and production.
Insect and disease problems are not well defined for New England. Phytophora can be a major disease on wet sites. The best solution is to avoid planting in wet sites or use varieties that are less susceptible to this disease. Lingonberry is related to lowbush blueberry and the cranberry, so many of the insects and diseases that afflict these plants may also affect lingonberry.
Partial List of Nurseries Selling Lingonberry
Edible Forest Nursery, Box 260165, Madison, WI 53726, 608-663-0840
Fall Creek Farm & Nursery, 39318 Jasper-Lowell Road, Lowell, OR 97452
Hartmann’s Plant Company, Box 100, Lacota, MI
Indiana Berry & Plant Company, 5218 West 500 South, Huntington, IN 45742
Saint Lawrence Nurseries, 325 State Highway 345, Potsdam, NY 13676
Learn About Lingonberries
Bacterial Leaf Spot: First signs are small translucent spots with a broad yellowish edge that slowly enlarge and become angular or irregularly circular with a reddish center. It thrives in cooler temperatures. The disease may also affect and disfigure flower heads. Burpee Recommends: Remove infected plants. Avoid overhead watering. Do not work around plants when they are wet.
Botrytis: This fungus causes a grey mold on flowers, leaves, stems and buds. It thrives in cool wet weather conditions. Burpee Recommends: Remove affected plant parts, avoid watering at night and getting water on the plant when watering. Make sure plants have good air circulation. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for fungicide recommendations.
Common Pest and Cultural Problems
Aphids: Greenish, red, black or peach colored sucking insects that can spread disease as they feed on the undersides of leaves. They leave a sticky residue on foliage that attracts ants. Burpee Recommends: Introduce or attract natural predators into your garden such as lady beetles and wasps who feed on aphids. You can also wash them off with a strong spray, or use an insecticidal soap.
Armyworm: Holes in leaves can be singular or clumped together. Leaves can become skeletonized. Egg clusters may be evident on foliage with a cottony or fuzzy appearance. Young larvae are pale green and adults are darker with a light line along the side and pink underside. Burpee Recommends: Introduce natural enemies to the area.
Mealybugs: Mealybugs are 1/8 to ¼ inch long flat wingless insects that secrete a white powder that forms a waxy shell that protects them. They form cottony looking masses on stems, branches and leaves. They suck the juices from leaves and stems and cause weak growth. They also attract ants with the honeydew they excrete, and the honeydew can grow a black sooty mold on it as well. Burpee Recommends: Wash affected plant parts and try to rub the bugs off. They may also be controlled by predator insects such as lacewings, ladybugs and parasitic wasps. Check with your Cooperative Extension Service for pesticide recommendations.
Whitefly: These are small white flying insects that often rise up in a cloud when plants are disturbed or brushed against. Burpee Recommends: They are difficult to control without chemicals. Try hot pepper wax or insecticidal soap. Check with your Cooperative Extension Service for pesticide recommendations.
Growing Lingonberries – How to Grow Lingonberries
Lingonberries are very similar to cranberries and thrive in acid soil and semi-shade.Pot grown lingonberries are available from nurseries and seed merchants. Like cranberries, they do well in containers.
- Cultivate as for cranberries
- Plant in late autumn or early winter.
- Ready to harvest in early autumn the following year.
- Usually grown from cuttings rather than seeds
- Plants need a few years to establish before berry production begins
- Planting in ground, allow approximately two square feet per 1 yr old plant to spread. Remove soil to a depth of six to eight inches and clear all weed roots. Lingonberries do not compete well with weeds. If your soil tends to be dry, the dug area can be lined with polythene with some drainage holes punched in the bottom to hold moisture.
- Fill the area with either ericaceous soil or peat moss, some sharp sand, and add about a pound of blood meal and a half pound of bone meal. Add some high nitrogen fertilizer. Mix. Water, but do not over saturate.
- Plant cuttings two inches deep and about one to two feet apart (1-1.5m) 3 yr old plants need 3 ft (1m) spacings
- Water regularly so soil stays moist to the touch for the first year while cranberries establish themselves. Mulch is recommended.
- Feed the first year or two with some high nitrogen fertilizer to encourage upright shoots then stop
- About every 3 years during production, cut out any dead wood, never the uprights, and trim new runners to revigorate berry production
- Ground growth works best for cranberries but they will grow in wide pots filled with ericaceous soil mix as above. Trim runners that escape the pot but leave others to grow fruiting upright stems. Keep well watered.
Further Information on Lingonberries
Recipes Using Lingonberries or Cranberries
- Lingonberries from the Allotment Shop
March 1, 2017 OGW Growing Guides
If you are looking for a new berry to add to your landscape this Fall, you should really consider Lingonberries. They are known by many names across their native range, including Mountain Cranberry, Cowberry, and Foxberry to name a few.
The majority of Lingonberries are wild harvested, not cultivated. In fact, only about 71 acres worldwide are dedicated to lingonberry cultivation however, we imagine that number is increasing rapidly as more and more people discover this wonderful plant. They are extremely popular in Finland, where they are known as Puolukka and eaten whole in yogurt. This pairing has led Finland to become a large importer of the berries from other countries in Northern Europe.
The plants themselves are perennial, woody shrubs that grow only 12-16 inches high. They spread readily by underground stems or rhizomes and will spread up to 9 inches over the first few years after they are planted. They are very well suited to colder climates and have been known to survive temperatures down to -50ºF! Lingonberries will flower and produce fruit in more temperate growing regions. One study shows that lingonberries require 800 Chill Hours to produce fruit. If you don’t know how many chill hours your area gets, Getchill has an excellent calculator that used local information from Wunderground’s Wundermap.
Lingonberries produce fruit on one year old wood. The berries are red, edible, and of various sizes. The plants flower and produce fruit twice per year: once in mid August and once in mid October. The October harvest boasts higher yields and larger berries. It is best to wait 1-2 weeks after the appearance of the first deep red berry to start harvesting. Underripe berries are very bitter, but will ripen further off the vine as long as they are fully red. They can be harvested by hand or with a Swedish picking rake, which allows pickers to harvest 22-45 pounds per hours. They store well, lasting 6-8 weeks in the refrigerator or up to 2 years frozen. The berries are very high in flavonoids and phenolic acids, which play an important role in the control of cancers and other diseases. They contain four times the antioxidants of their cousin, the blueberry. They also contain arbutin, which is a medical compound helpful in combating many infections including UTI.
Like blueberries, lingonberries prefer well drained soils with 2-6% organic matter and pH 4.3-5.5. If your soil is not well drained, they can be planted in 4-8” raised beds. They should be planted 8-18 inches apart and will spread into a thick mat over time. Roots should be 2-3” deep, and 4-6” of organic mulch placed around the base of the plant and replenished every 3-6 years or as needed. Similar to blueberries, Lingonberries require around 20-40 lbs/acre of Ammonium Nitrogen annually. They are unable to take up the Nitrate form of Nitrogen, so be sure to check the nitrogen form on your fertilizer. In the Pacific Northwest, many growers fertilize in mid March and in late May. Do not over apply fertilizer to lingonberries or apply fertilizer after mid July. Excess Sodium, Chloride and Calcium can cause problems for Lingonberries.
Lingonberries require very little water. They are best irrigated with driplines at a rate of 2.3-4.5 gallons of water per square yard weekly. Very easy to care for, lingonberries require no pruning for the first 4-5 years. It is best to mow alternate rows every 3-6 years to rejuvenate plants and keep yields high. They also have very few pest issues as their roots let out a chemical that keeps many weed seeds from germinating nearby.
Lingonberries are pollinated by honey bees, flies, bumblebees, butterflies, beetles and other flying insects. They benefit from cross pollination. It is best to have one pollenizer out of every ten plants. Both our varieties Red Pearl and Koralle grow well together and will cross pollinate
Lingonberries are interesting plants that are very easy to care for. Take a look at those bare places in your garden and imagine a wonderful evergreen groundcover of Lingonberries and start scouring for good Scandinavian recipes!
was developed in Germany and first released in Holland. It’s small, glossy, evergreen leaves take on a mahogany hue during the winter months. Near white to pink flowers bloom spring to fall, followed by bright red, edible berries. Originally developed as an ornamental ground cover, then later cultivated for it’s fruit. Now a popular Dutch cultivar making up almost all of European Production.
Red Pearl Lingonberry
Another Dutch cultivar, Red Pearl Lingonberry is a fast growing, wide, bushy, upright plant that gets to be about 13″ tall. Dark red, round fruit larger (1/3″ diameter) and more mildly flavored than Koralle. Most tolerant of less than ideal soil conditions.