How to Grow the Best Berries

This winter, plan to nestle a few berry plants so you can enjoy your own nutritious produce next year.

Credit: Terry Guscott

This winter, plan to nestle a few berry plants or shrubs into your garden so you can enjoy your own nutritious produce next year.

Even the smallest gardens can produce strawberries in containers or hanging baskets. And if your whole garden is shaded, consider the wild berries that thrive and fruit in low light.

Sheena’s Best Berries

Blackberries (Rubus fruticosus)

‘Brazos’: Upright bush with thorns produces early, large, firm, deep-black berries. Considered the sweetest of all blackberries, suitable for fresh use or for pies, juice or jams. Drought tolerant. Zones 5 to 10. ‘Waldo’: A compact thornless bush with large sweet berries. Beautiful pink blossoms ripen in July, earlier than most. Tolerant of summer rains, suitable for small gardens and does not require support. Zones 6 to 10.

Blueberries, Northern Highbush (Vaccinium corymbosum)

While blueberries are technically self-fertile, they produce a better crop when grown with a different cultivar of the same type of blueberry.

Learn More

Find out which berry varieties grow best in local conditions. Top berry expert, Hugh Daubeny, offers more tips and information.

‘Blueray’: Early midseason. Small, tight clusters of large, medium-blue fruit are crack resistant and have a sweet, slightly tart, aromatic flavour. Vigorous and very productive. 1.2 to 3 m (4 to 6 ft.) tall at maturity. Zone 4. ‘Jersey’: Reliable, easy-to-grow, heavy-producing, late-season variety. This bush grows quite large, often reaching 2.1 m (7 ft.) at maturity. The small to medium, dark-blue fruit is very sweet and great for baking. Zone 4. ‘Reka’: A vigorous early-season producer with deep-blue, large, firm fruit. Adapts to most soils and will tolerate damp locations. Will grow to 1.5 m (5 ft.). Zone 4.

Boysenberry (Rubus)

‘Boysen’: This raspberry-blackberry cross produces very large fruit; skin dark-red to purplish-black; flesh soft; aroma distinct. For milder locations; in colder zones, plant in a container and protect in winter. Zone 6.

Currants (Ribes)

‘Red Lake’: An excellent drought-tolerant, red currant (R. rubrum) variety with late-ripening, glossy red fruit. Excellent for jelly. Blue-green leaves. Zone 5. ‘White Imperial’: Late-ripening, medium-large, clear-white currant (R. sativum). High quality, heavy bearer. Zone 5. ‘Willoughby’: Introduced from Saskatchewan in 1953, this black currant is resistant to white pine blister rust and mildew. Hardier than most, it will take cold winters and full sun in summer. Spreading growth habit. Zone 3.

Red Huckleberry (Vaccinium parvifolium)

Tart, small, round red berries are great for pies, juice and wine. Thrives in acidic soil, forming an attractive deciduous shrub reaching 2 m (6½ ft.) high, 1 m (3 ft.) wide. Prefers part to full shade and moist soil. Zone 5.

Jostaberry (Ribes × culverwellii)

This cross has the black-currant colour and gooseberry shape. Disease resistant and thornless, with a vigorous growth habit. Tastes like kiwi blended with grape and blueberry. Enjoy fresh or in jam, juice or pies. Zone 4.

Loganberry (Rubus × loganobaccus)

Cross between a raspberry and blackberry. Thornless shrub with large maroon berries useful for syrup, pies or eating fresh. Ready in July. Zone 5.

Marionberry (Rubus)

‘Marion’: This blackberry-raspberry cross has trailing canes that bear fruit similar to a blackberry, but larger, tastier and more fragrant. Higher yields over a longer period than boysenberry. Ready in July. Zone 5.

Mulberry (Morus ‘Geraldi Dwarf’)

Similar to a blackberry. Great fresh or for baking and preserves. Also used as a natural dye, so site shrubs carefully to avoid staining walkways and buildings. Zone 5.

Raspberries (Rubus idaeus)

‘Fall Gold’: Ripening in August, this is a yellow raspberry with soft-pink tones, with the bush reaching 1.8 m (6 ft.). Flavourful, slightly tart berries are long and dark. A gourmet raspberry for lovers of the exotic. Zone 5. ‘Heritage’: An everbearing raspberry producing fruit from June through to frost. Firm, sweet, juicy, bright-red berries. Sturdy, requiring little support. Mould resistant. Zone 3. ‘Meeker’: Bred for a firm berry that resists typical “squish” at harvest and serving time. Produces medium-sized, deep-red, tasty berries in summer. Zone 4.

Salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis)

A shade-tolerant shrub with deep-pink flowers in early spring followed by yellow fruits that ripen to orange, then red in May and June. The berries are juicy, seedy and refreshing when little else is ripe. The berry resembles a cluster of salmon eggs. Zones 3 to 9.

Saskatoon berry (Amelanchier alnifolia)

Easy-to-grow shrubs produce deep-blue round berries, with a taste resembling a nutty blueberry. Used fresh or dried in trail mixes, granola or cereal. A heritage berry used for preserves, wines, and jams. Zone 2.

Strawberries (Fragaria)

‘Kent’: June-bearing plant with large, firm, red berries. Very productive and high quality. Serve fresh, freeze or use in preserves. Easily propagated. Zone 3 (2 if mulched). ‘Tristar’: Day-neutral strawberry (produces fruit through summer and into fall) with medium-sized, juicy, firm red berries. Limited runner production makes it suited to container or balcony planting. Zone 3 (2 if mulched).