Vaccinium ovatum is one of the most versatile and underused native plants of the Pacific Northwest. It provides a regional feel to our gardens and helps define the Northwest landscape.
Typically thought of as a woodland plant, it performs equally well in full sun. In spring its small, leathery leaves have tones of copper and bronze, and they mature to shiny dark green. Small, urn-shaped white flowers hang under the foliage in spring, transforming to succulent blue-black berries by late summer.
These make delicious jams or jelly. The small leaves of this shrub create a fine texture, but its slightly irregular growth habit keeps it interesting. It contrasts well with plants with larger leaves, such as rhododendrons.
Use evergreen huckleberry in informal groupings or as a natural low screen. Surprisingly it will also shear into a dense formal hedge.
Sow in fall or very early spring in outdoor conditions, in pots or flats. Sow in a mixture of sand and peat moss. If sowing in the fall, expect germination in the spring.
If sowing at other times of the year, a 30 to 90 day period of cold, moist refrigeration (place seeds in plastic bag with moist peat moss and refrigerate) will improve germination rate.
Surface sow, press in, and keep evenly moist until germination, which occurs in 30 days and ongoing. After 6 weeks, transplant to larger pots and grow on for up to 3 years before transplanting to the landscape.