Honeyberry: characteristics, care tips & the best varieties


I study agricultural sciences and am obsessed with being in nature. I love to spend my free time out in the fields or horse riding. Or you can find me at my raised bed in the garden, where I like to plant all kinds of crazy new vegetables.

Favourite fruit: apples
Favourite vegetables: courgettes and potatoes

At first glance, a honeyberry could be mistaken for a blueberry. Find out all about honeyberries and what to do with them.

Close-up of honeyberry berries
Haskap berries are notable for the elongated shape of their fruit [Photo: Nagaev/ Shutterstock.com]

Honeyberries are often sold under the names haskap, blue honeysuckle, Kamchatka honeysuckle and Siberian honeyberry. This deciduous berry shrub with blueberry-like fruits is becoming increasingly popular among home gardeners. Haskaps also win gardeners over with their easy-care and robust nature.

Honeyberry origin & characteristics

Honeyberries (Lonicera caerulea var. kamtschatica) belong to the honeysuckle family known as Caprifoliaceae. They originate from the Siberian peninsula Kamchatka, where honeyberry plants grow mainly in mountain forests at higher altitudes. Due to their origin, honeyberry flowers and wood are extremely robust and frost-hardy. The light yellow, paired flowers appear as early as March.

Yellow haskap flowers in bloom
Honeyberry flowers are pale yellow and bell-shaped [Photo: LianeM/ Shutterstock.com]

Honeyberry leaves first emerge after the flowers have finished blooming. The berries that grow from these flowers are typically 1 to 1.5cm long, cylindrical and dark blue. While honeyberries taste similar to blueberries, honeyberry plants have a lower yield. Honeyberry fruits often ripen as early as May, making them one of the first berry fruits of the year. Due to their size, honeyberry shrubs are also suitable for small gardens. They grow up to 1.5m high and like to grow outwards too.

Honeyberry varieties

Honeyberry varieties can be divided into early and late varieties. The best-known honeyberry varieties are:

  • ‘Morena’: this variety is larger and heavier than others. In places with mild weather conditions, the berries ripen by the end of May.
  • Fialka’: this is also a larger and heavier variety. In temperate climates, the berries ripen by the end of May or beginning of June.
  • ‘Maitop’: the honeyberry ‘Maitop®’ is characterised by its aromatic berries and good yield.
  • ‘Amur’: this variety pairs great as a pollinator for the variety ‘Maitop’ and is known for its aromatic taste.
  • ‘Eisbär’: The honeyberry ‘Eisbär®’ is characterised by its large, 3 – 4 cm long fruits and is said to produce a higher yield.

Other notable honeyberry varieties are ‘Berry Blue’, ‘Blue Velvet’ and ‘Myberry Sweet’.

Hands cupping honeyberry fruits
Siberian honeyberry varieties often differ in the size of their fruit [Photo: Dmitry Melnikov/ Shutterstock.com]

How to plant honeyberries

Honeyberry shrubs are robust and undemanding. They do well whether in partial shade or full sun as well as in light to medium soils. This means you can plant them almost anywhere in your garden. However, for an abundant harvest, choose a spot that is sunny and not too devoid of nutrients. Honeyberry shrubs also prefer consistent moisture.

The best time to plant a honeyberry shrub is in spring or autumn. Do not plant a honeyberry shrub when temperatures are below freezing. To begin, dig a hole that is at least one and a half times the size of the honeyberry’s root ball. Loosen the root ball a bit before placing it in the planting hole, and fill in the hole with an all-purpose garden soil. To ensure a good humus supply and an abundant harvest, try out our peat-free Plantura Organic All Purpose Compost. This compost is well-suited to soft fruits and has numerous applications in the garden. After planting, water the shrub sufficiently.

Organic All Purpose Compost, 40L
Organic All Purpose Compost, 40L
  • Perfect for all your house, garden & balcony plants
  • For strong & healthy plants as well as an active soil life
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Tip: Blackcurrants and autumn raspberries are great companion plants for honeyberries. Together, they will have you harvesting berries from the end of May right through until the end of autumn.

Cross-pollinating with different varieties can increase a honeyberry shrub’s yield. That said, honeyberries can also self-pollinate, so a single honeyberry bush in the garden will also bear fruit. If you opt for several honeyberry bushes, ensure a planting distance of at least 1m.

Honeyberry in a planting hole
When planting a blue honeysuckle, be sure to dig a deep enough hole beforehand [Photo: Kletr/ Shutterstock.com]

Honeyberries in pots: Due to its relatively compact size, it is possible to plant a honeyberry shrub in a pot. You can also leave these plants to overwinter outdoors. Just place the pot near the house and cover it with insulating material to protect the plant’s roots from freezing through.

Honeyberry care

Although honeyberry shrubs are easier to care for than blueberries, there are a few points to bear in mind. During prolonged dry spells, give your honeyberry plant additional water to keep the soil evenly moist. You will also need to fertilise it if you want to ensure a rich annual harvest. We recommend fertilising once in spring before budding and again in summer before fruiting. Use compost or an organic fertiliser such as our Plantura All Purpose Plant Food, which is a long-lasting and sustainable option for feeding your honeyberry bushes.

All Purpose Plant Food, 1.5kg
All Purpose Plant Food, 1.5kg
  • Perfect for a variety of plants in the garden & on the balcony
  • Promotes healthy plant growth & an active soil life
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Overwintering honeyberry shrubs is a breeze. With its origin in Siberia, the honeyberry can withstand temperatures as low as -45°C, making any fears of honeyberry frost damage null and void. The shrubs do not need to be brought inside. As mentioned above, just be sure to give potted honeyberries a bit of insulation to protect the roots.

Pruning honeyberry shrubs

The best time to prune honeyberries is after harvesting in June. In the first three years, only remove shoots that are too dense or weak. From the fourth year onwards, prune your honeyberry to encourage rejuvenation. To do this, cut off the oldest shoots close to the ground after the harvest, and leave just the strongest eight to ten fruit-bearing shoots.

Ripe honeyberries on the plant
With the right care, the haskap plant produces tasty honeyberries in spring [Photo: Krasula/ Shutterstock.com]

Troubleshooting barren honeyberries

Honeyberry plants should bear fruit after three to four years. So, if yours is bearing little to no fruit, there are a few possible reasons for this. As mentioned above, honeyberry shrubs do not need a second variety for pollination, but cross-pollination with a second variety will certainly increase the plant’s yield. Other possible explanations for a barren shrub could be a location that is too shady or does not get enough water during long dry periods. If your honeyberry is not producing flowers or if the foliage is showing signs of deficiency, you may need to try fertilising your honeyberry or enriching its soil.

Water droplets on blue honeysuckle
Blue honeysuckle plants need the right care for a rich honeyberry harvest [Photo: Garmasheva Natalia/ Shutterstock.com]

Honeyberry propagation

Honeyberry shrubs are typically propagated by cuttings. In summer, look for young shoots that are about 20cm long and without flowers or fruit. Cut these off using a sharp, clean pair of secateurs and place them in pots with loose soil. Cuttings that are not yet well established need to be overwintered in a cool and bright but frost-free place. In spring, plant the cuttings out in the garden. With sufficient moisture and nutrient-poor soil, such as our Plantura Organic Herb & Seedling Compost, honeyberry cuttings will take root easily. Propagation by layering is even easier. Here too, find a young honeyberry shoot that is about 20cm long and without flowers or fruit. Bend the shoot down, and fix it in the soil. Once the shoot has taken root, you can separate it from the mother plant.

Organic Herb & Seedling Compost, 20L
Organic Herb & Seedling Compost, 20L
  • Perfect for herbs as well as sowing, propagating & transplanting
  • For aromatic herbs & healthy seedlings with strong roots
  • Peat-free & organic soil: CO2-saving composition

Are honeyberries edible?

Yes, honeyberries are edible and can be eaten directly from the bush! These fruits are packed with vitamin C, potassium and antioxidants, qualifying them as a superfood.

Honeyberry harvest typically begins towards the end of May. Although they taste like blueberries, honeyberries have a shorter shelf life. Hence, it is best to eat them straight away. Honeyberries can also be used to make juices, jams and compotes.

Honeyberries in a glass bowl
Freshly harvested honeyberries taste the best [Photo: vladdon/ Shutterstock.com]

Common pests and diseases

Honeyberry shrubs are minimally susceptible to diseases and pests. The most common pest, though still only occasional, is the winter moth. The biggest threat to honeyberry shrubs is plundering birds. Cover your honeyberry shrubs with nets to prevent birds from pillaging the tasty berries before you get a chance to harvest them yourself.

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