Aronia: Potted Fruit Plant
How to Plant
Planting Potted Plants:
- Aronias thrive in a sunny to partially shaded location, in well drained, acidic soil, with a pH of 5.0 to 6.5.
- Prepare the bed by turning the soil under to a depth of 6-12 inches removing any debris, and lightly raking as level as possible.
- The addition of organic matter (leaf mold, compost, well-rotted manure) benefits all gardens and is essential in recently constructed neighborhoods.
- Set plants 10 feet apart.
- Set the plant in the hole so that the root ball is level with the surrounding soil, backfill and press the soil firmly into the hole cavity.
- Water deeply. The water will seal off any air pockets around the root ball.
- Use a stick or marker to indicate where the plant is planted.
- Mulch with 2-3 inches of compost of pine needles to retain moisture and prohibit weed growth.
How to Grow
- Keep weeds under control during the growing season. Weeds compete with plants for water, space and nutrients. Control them by either cultivating often or use a mulch to prevent their seeds from germinating.
- Keep plants well-watered during the growing season, especially during dry spells. Plants need about 1-2 inches of rain per week during the growing season. It's best to water with a drip or trickle system that delivers water at low pressure at the soil level. If you water with overhead sprinklers, water early in the day so the foliage has time to dry off before evening, to minimize disease problems. Keep the soil moist but not saturated.
- Prune all suckers that grow from the roots back to the ground to improve air circulation and help prevent powdery mildew.
- Mulch after the ground freezes in fall to prevent root damage from alternating freezing and thawing.
Harvest and Preserving Tips
- Cover bushes with bird netting as fruit ripens. Netting should not touch fruit.
- Berries are harvested after they are ripe in late August or early September. The berries are pea-sized, about 1/3 inch in diameter. Do not harvest if they show a hint of red, allow them to remain on the plant until they have full color.
- Harvest only when the weather is dry and avoid over handling to preserve the whitish, waxy surface of the berry, which protects it from fruit molds.
- Pick promptly to avoid insects.
- Harvest the berries only.
- Cool fruit promptly after harvesting and store between 32 - 40 degrees F to make it last longer.
- Aronia may also be frozen for later use. Freeze them in a single layer on a cookie sheet, and when they are frozen you can keep them frozen in zip lock bags.
Common Disease Problems
Bacterial Blight: This usually only occurs on young trees in warm weather. Small oozing cankers appear on the branches and buds. Cankers may continue to completely encircle infected branches, eventually killing them. Burpee Recommends: Practice good garden hygiene at the end of the season and discard, do not compost, possibly diseased plants and plant parts. Space plants to allow for adequate air circulation. Prune all infected branches below cankers. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for recommendations.
Powdery Mildew occurs on the top of the leaves in humid weather conditions. The leaves appear to have a whitish or greyish surface and may curl. Burpee Recommends: Avoid powdery mildew by providing good air circulation for the plants by good spacing and pruning. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for fungicide recommendations.
Rust: A number of fungus diseases cause rust colored spots on foliage and stalks. Burpee Recommends: Plant resistant varieties. Practice crop rotation. Remove infected plants. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service for recommendations.
Common Pest and Cultural Problems
Aphids: Greenish, red, black or peach colored sucking insects that can spread disease as they feed on the undersides of leaves. They leave a sticky residue on foliage that attracts ants. Burpee Recommends: Introduce or attract natural predators into your garden such as lady beetles and wasps who feed on aphids. You can also wash them off with a strong spray, or use an insecticidal soap.
Cane Borer: The larva is a pale yellow worm. The female lays eggs on the canes early June. The worm hatches and bores into the cane and feeds all season. Larva overwinters in the infested cane, emerging in the spring as an adult. The first symptom is yellow leaves on individual canes in late spring. The cane will die in summer. Burpee Recommends: Remove and destroy infested canes as early as possible. Contact your County Extension Service for pesticide recommendations.
Deer: Plants may be eaten to the ground. Burpee Recommends: Try a deer repellent or physical barrier for young plants.
Japanese Beetles: Burpee Recommends: Hand pick early in the morning into a bucket of soapy water.
Stink Bugs: These are brown shield-shaped bugs that pierce the surface of seeds, foliage or fruit through their mouthparts and feed on the inner contents. When handled they produce an unpleasant odor that give them their common name. They can be a problem in homes as well as gardens. Burpee Recommends: In the garden you can hand pick and crush them. They will emit an odor, but that serves to warn other stink bugs in the area. There are traps available designed for stink bugs specifically. Contact your local Cooperative Extension Service for recommendations. We have heard that if you hang a damp towel outside your house at night in the morning you will find stink bugs on it. You can vacuum these up or knock them into a bucket of soapy water.
When will I get fruit? You should begin to get berries the second year after planting. If your plants bloom the first year, it is best to remove the flowers to keep the strength in the plant.
Is aronia self-pollinating? Yes, you only need one plant to get fruit.
How can I use aronia berries? Aronia may be eaten fresh but may also be used in muffins, pies and other baked goods. They can be made into juice, wine, jam and jelly. They are also great for attracting birds to your garden.
Is aronia fruit toxic when eaten fresh? No, however, because of the tannin in the fruit, the fruit can have a drying affect in the mouth and may give you a headache.
Do Aronia plants have any fall color? Yes, the leaves become reddish in the fall.