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Contemplating a Wonderberry

January 9, 2006

Anyone have experience growing Wonderberry (related to huckleberries) in a Square foot garden? Please share it - I'm thinking about ordering some seeds and am unsure how it would work. I'm also curious if it would work better in a container on its own instead. Thanks in advance!

penguin, zone 5

Comments (11)

  • rain1950

    It's not related to the huckleberry; it's a nightshade family. Only ripe berries are non-poisonous. Generally treated as an annual, but will produce fruit in 2 - 3 months. For SFG, I would space as tomatoes/peppers are spaced. Very small shrub, usually growing to only 12-24". The wonderberry can fruit at just 3-4" high. The plants are exceedingly easy to grow and care is similar to the tomato, except that wonderberries tend to be less picky about temperature and water, and generally fruit much faster.

  • doozerdog

    but are wonderberries tastey at all?

  • jeremyjs

    The internet is your friend.

    "Wonderberries are somewhat sweet, and certainly far better tasting than Garden Huckleberries, with which the berries are often confused. That being said, and the name notwithstanding, the berries still don't taste of much of anything when eaten fresh out of hand, and are consequently best used in preserves and pies."

    Here is a link that might be useful: source

  • Dan _Staley (5b Sunset 2B AHS 7)

    Well, I tell you, these forums are a fount of information. Here is another forum with more interesting history and detail on wonderberry; it sounds similar to the use of crowberry up north - not the best taste but great filler and you eat a lot of them anyway. Solanum family generally doesn't mind containers or root restriction. I wonder if I can spare a container this spring...


  • peppergrae

    I grow wonderberries in a 3-foot kiddie pool. Here's a picture of the wonderberry garden. If you look close, you'll see some fruit. There are also a few huckleberry plants mixed in. I don't have as much luck growing hucks as I do the wonderberries, but would much prefer a bumper crop of huckleberries since it takes less to make a pie. that's all I ever do with them, though as a child I sure loved wonderberry dumplings!

  • rockguy

    I have gardened a LONG time and have tried several of the annual berry plants. Wonderberry is as good as any but in truth the taste is just not much. You will have to use a lot of sugar, maybe some lemon, etc to make a decent pie. They will do you until real blueberry plants start producing, assuming you'll be planting those. Hard to beat the taste of a real blueberry tho.

  • Mokinu

    Wonderberries are excellent. Pick lots of them (only purple ones) and freeze them in gallon freezer bags. Put them on pizza and in frittatas. Use fresh ones in salads, frittatas, and pizza. Don't compare them to blueberries. You'll be happier if you compare them to tomatoes. Trade Winds Fruit sells the kind I use. If anyone in the USA wants seeds, let me know.

    Cooked whole on pizza, they provide more taste and less juice per volume than tomatoes, IMO, and are attractive like olives. They provide great taste to frittatas similarly. They don't add much flavor to salads, but that's part of the appeal (the flavor doesn't distract); they add visual appeal and nutrients.

    The longer you keep them on the vine after they turn purple, the softer and sweeter they'll get (but they also risk going bad later in the season if you do that).

    You can use them in desserts, but when people do that, they usually mix them with other berries.

    I personally like eating them fresh and plain (but I find few people who agree with me.) To me, they taste like sour watermelon, oranges and a bit like huckleberries. Despite my using them like tomatoes, I don't think they taste like tomatoes—but they are related to them, and many people who aren't me think they taste like tomatoes. Cooked on pizza, they have a sweeter, tangier taste than tomatoes tend to have. Cooked whole on pizza, they add a slightly fruity olive-like flavor to me.

    I haven't tried them in lasagna or spaghetti, but they'd probably be good that way. They combine with tomatoes well (including in frittatas and on pizza). They'd probably be good added near the end of a stir fry. I imagine they might be good cooked on grilled cheese sandwiches.

  • Mokinu

    You don't need to grow them in containers, although I'm sure they'll be fine that way as well as in square foot gardening. They're very easy to grow in the ground. They'll need support late in the season if you don't want them to fall over, though, but mine stay upright longer than tomatoes. Harvest regularly for the healthiest plants. I'd say they grow about 2.5 to 5 feet tall in the ground. Some say they only get 2 feet tall. I think it's best to grow only one plant per spot (for more production and easier harvesting), but you'll still get a harvest if you grow several per spot. Grow them in full sun if you don't want aphids. The aphids on plants with a fair amount of shade didn't hurt the plants terribly, but they got all over me while I harvested if I got into the plants. Sit in a chair while you harvest to make things easy. They need about as much room as indeterminate tomatoes, give or take. Uncaged, they take about as much space as semi-determinate tomatoes, but the extra space is to make harvesting nicer, unless you're like me and sometimes enjoy venturing into plants to harvest.

  • Mokinu

    To save seeds, use the same process people use for ground cherries. Put berries in a blender on low for a while. Then let the seeds settle to the bottom and pour the stuff on the top out. I recommend putting them in herbal empty tea bags on brown paper bags to dry. I zap mine in water with a Z4EX after putting them in herbal tea bags, before drying them on brown paper bags (still in the herbal tea bags) in a room with a fan.

    If you want them to volunteer, just put some fruits where you want them to grow next year. They reseed easily.

    The plants seem more frost-tolerant than tomatoes and peppers, but die near the same time. They fruit early and all season.

  • Mokinu

    If black nightshade grows in your area, be careful since wonderberries look like it and can probably hybridize with it. Luther Burbank, who spent 25 years breeding the wonderberry reportedly said they were a cross between two different species. Remember, though, black nightshade isn't the same thing as deadly nightshade.

  • Mokinu

    Speaking of breeding, I'm trying to breed wonderberry varieties that normally get fused fruits, and those that are more attractive to bees. Larger and sweeter berries, too. But, I'm just starting out. If anyone's interested in helping (who doesn't live in an area with black nightshade or similar), let me know!

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