Transplant the huckleberry seedlings into 6-inch pots filled with standard potting soil. Continue to grow the seedlings in a sheltered area for their first summer. Water them whenever their top 1 inch of soil dries.
Collect huckleberry seeds in late summer after the fruits ripen to a solid purplish-blue color. Gather the ripe fruits in a bucket. Crush the fruits gently against the bottom of the bucket to break apart their flesh.
Cover the crushed huckleberry fruits with water. Soak them overnight. Stir the water the following day, and then let it sit for another one hour. Skim off and throw away all of the floating fruit flesh and floating seeds. Collect the seeds that sunk to the bottom.
Fill 4-inch pots with a moistened mixture of five parts sand and one part milled peat moss to create a soil. Sprinkle four or five huckleberry seeds onto the soil in each pot. Press the seeds gently onto the soil surface to anchor them. Do not cover the seeds with soil.
Valued for their fragrant fruit and attractive foliage, huckleberries (Vaccinium ovatum) are widely grown in home gardens within U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 6 to 10. Although they are most commonly propagated from cuttings, huckleberries also grow from fresh seeds. The seeds require no special pretreatment and germinate reliably when provided with a warm, moist environment. Huckleberry seeds require light for germination, however, and must be exposed to bright, indirect sunlight for at least six hours each day to sprout successfully.
Remove all huckleberry seedlings except the strongest, most vigorous seedling from each pot once the seedlings grow to 1/2 inch in height. Keep the pots in the warm, bright spot until the seedlings reach 2 inches in height, and then move them outdoors to a sheltered area that has light shade and protection from strong wind.
Acclimate the huckleberry seedlings to direct sunlight for two weeks in early autumn. Transplant them into a lightly shaded garden bed with moist, acidic soil in mid-autumn after that time period’s first rainfall.
Cover each 4-inch pot with a sheet of plastic wrap. Place the pots on a warming mat near a source of bright sunlight, such as indoors near a lightly shaded window or outdoors in a partly shaded cold frame. Use a location that receives at least six hours of natural sunlight each day.
Set the temperature on the warming mat to 70 degrees Fahrenheit during each day. Lower the temperature to 60 degrees Fahrenheit each night. Monitor the moisture level in each pot’s soil, and use a spray bottle to mist the soil with water whenever it feels dry to the touch.
Unlike wonderberries or blueberries, the easy-to-grow huckleberry will need cooking, as they are bitter when raw and unsweetened,although some people do eat them when they are ripe and soft. But a real culinary miracle occurs when you cook and sweeten this variety of garden huckleberries! In America they are traditionally used to make delicious pies and jams but for some reason, elsewhere in the world they have never really caught on. Please don't forget, do NOT eat when unripe, as with many fruits, they can give you severe tummy-ache even in small quantities.
Seeds are surface-sown or covered only slightly. Do not allow the soil to dry out. Containers are held in warm conditions until sprouts appear, which may take anywhere from 3-10 days. Move sprouting plantings immediately to bright light conditions, such as a south-facing window. Support with cane or wires.
Some references confusingly list “wonderberry” as a synonym for this plant, but wonderberry is a hybridized variant. The common name Garden Huckleberry is also applied in some references to Solanum scabrum, a related plant grown as a leaf crop. Our Garden Huckleberry is native to Africa, and is not a true huckleberry, nor is it a ground cherry.
Solanum melanocerasum. Garden Huckleberry seeds are started indoors around the same time as tomato seeds. Transplant out in mid-May to June, with your tomato seedlings. The small, 1cm (1/2″) fruits begin to set early, turning from bright green to jet black. These hold on the plant, even if they appear early in the season. We recommend waiting until after the first frost to harvest all at once the fruits that have turned black. It’s a fruit for cooking and sweetening, with a flavour reminiscent of blueberries and Concorde grapes. These work well in pies and preserves, but require the same kind of help with sweetening that rhubarb does. Like tomatoes and eggplants, this is a member of the nightshade family, so care should be taken not to eat unripened or uncooked fruits Do not eat fruits with any green skin showing, as they are slightly toxic. The compact annual bushes grow with a height and spread around 60cm (24″) each. The tiny seeds are easy to save for planting the following year.
Matures 80 days from transplant. (Open-pollinated seeds)