Red Candy LingonberryVaccinium vitis-idaea 'Red Candy' (PP# 22,105)
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Vaccinium vitis-idaea 'Red Candy' (PP# 22,105)
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
The Red Candy Lingonberry is a wonderful and unique berry bush that is hardy even in zone 2. Popular with native and ethnic peoples around the Arctic, it is also a beautiful groundcover shrub resembling a cotoneaster. It has glossy foliage, a low, mounding form, white flowers and beautiful candy-red berries. These make delicious tangy juices, jams and pies. Easy to grow in suitable soil it is perfect for covering banks and slopes, planting among rocks and growing in damp soils.
The Red Candy Lingonberry is hardy in zone 2, preferring areas with cooler, damp summers. It grows best in moist to wet soils that are peaty and acidic, but it can be grown in neutral soils with peat added and regular watering. It doesn’t have any pests or diseases, needs no special pruning or pollination partners, and is very easy to grow in suitable conditions.
There are times when growing fruit seems out of reach for gardeners in cold areas, with so many fruit trees and bushes needing warmer zones. For inspiration we can reach out to ethnic peoples around the poles, and there we will discover a favorite berry – the Lingonberry. Eaten all through Scandinavia and Russia, it is also a popular treat for Native Americans and Canada’s aboriginal peoples. In Alaska, Newfoundland and even above the Arctic Circle, these delicious red berries have been harvested and eaten fresh, frozen and even with fish eggs and seal oil. Widely recognized for its healthy properties, Scandinavians eat it as jam with meats and fish, or as pies and desserts. It is packed with vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamins B1, B2, and B3, as well as potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. The raw berries are tangy and acidic, but with sugar they are delicious and refreshing, and perfect for spicing up your meals. They also make great cordials and fruit drinks.
The wild berries are fine, if you can get them, but for growing in a garden you can’t beat the Red Candy Lingonberry. Its large berries are bright red and packed with juice and delicious flavor. The plant is a great garden shrub too, making a long mound on the soil, and often grown as a groundcover on slopes or among rocks. If this plant is new to you, be ready for an exciting addition to your garden and kitchen that is easy to grow even in the coldest zones.
The Red Candy Lingonberry is a low evergreen shrub that will be about 4 inches high and a foot across within a couple of years, and then growing no more than 8 inches tall when mature, but spreading wider. It grows at a moderate rate, and it has an attractive spreading form that looks great on slopes and around rocks. The slender branches are produced freely, making a very bushy, dense plant. Each side-branch is about 4 inches long, slim and slightly hairy. The leaves are packed tightly along the branches, and they are smooth, glossy, oval and about ¾ of an inch long. They are dark green, sometimes turning dark red in winter. The overall appearance is a bit like a spreading cotoneaster. The flowers are produced anytime from June to late September, with flowers opening slowly over weeks. The flowers are in clusters at the ends of the branches, about 14 blooms in a 4-inch spike. They are white with some pink overtones, and like inch-long hanging bells. They have a faint fragrance, and a plant in bloom is very attractive. After flowering berries develop rapidly, and within about 3 weeks they are ripe and ready to harvest. They are about ½ inch across, glossy and rich, candy red. Each stem produces 20 or 30 berries, and a mature bush can give 1,500 berries in a season. You can harvest them from a single bush and freeze them until you have enough to bake a pie, or grow several bushes and have a bumper harvest.
This is a great dual-purpose shrub, because it is a beautiful groundcover and a great berry-bush. The berries are beautiful, even if you don’t harvest them, and popular with birds and wild mammals. Grow it on slopes, among rocks, on terracing, or in a row in a fruit garden. Use it in the foreground of beds, or planted in the spaces of a paved terrace.
The Red CandyLingonberry is very hardy. So hardy it grows in icy zone 2. Yet it grows in all zones including zone 8, doing best in areas with damp, cooler summers, like the Pacific Northwest. Some winter cold is needed to develop the flowers properly. There is some confusion about hardiness, with some sources giving zone 5. This is because the lingonberry is a unique variety that is much more hardy than the species itself.
The Red Candy Lingonberry grows best in full sun, but it will grow with a little shade too. In full sun the soil must be moist, as it is not drought-resistant. The soil should be damp to wet, and preferably acidic and peaty. It will also grow well in neutral garden soils with plenty of peat moss added to them. Water regularly for best results.
No particular care is needed if the soil is suitable, and there are no pests or diseases of particular concern. Water regularly and remove any dead branches in spring – that’s it, and of course enjoy the bounty of nature it gives you.
The lingonberry, Vaccinium vitis-idaea, is also called cowberry, partridge berry and mountain cranberry. The species as a whole is found all around the Arctic, from Russia and Alaska across Canada and through Scandinavia. The actual lingonberry is a variety – var. minus – that is lower growing and more cold-resistant than the general species. It has been harvested for thousands of years by ethnic people and eaten in Russia and Scandinavia for centuries as a traditional food. It has been a commercial berry crop in the Netherlands since the 1960s, and it was there that the variety Red Candy was created. It is the result of pollination of some seedling plants with the pollen of a commercial variety called `Aalshorst`. This was done in 2004 at the Van Son & Koot Nursery in Kaatsheuvel, the Netherlands. In 2006 a single plant was selected that was more vigorous, more compact, and with more flowers and larger, redder fruit than the parents. It became Red Candy and was registered in the European Union in 2008, and patented in the US in 2011.
It is great to expand your fruit-growing – or branch out into something different and beautiful, even if fruit isn’t your first priority. The beautiful Red Candy is a lovely plant and makes delicious jam – enjoy both, but order now, because something this special is going to sell-out really, really quickly.