The best berries to grow in the garden
Here is a list of the best types of raspberries, blackberries, currants, blueberries, gooseberries, cranberries and lingonberries to grow in the garden.
For many gardeners, berry bushes are their favourite plants to grow. Even though raspberries and blackberries sometimes take up a lot of space, garden owners are often more than willing to provide the plants with that space because of the harvest of a plenty of delicious fruits. Not all types of berries require copious amount of space, though: blueberry bushes are ideal for smaller gardens. On hills, cranberries or blueberries are an excellent alternative to the popular ground cover plants with an added benefit of bearing the healthy fruit.
In this article, we introduce you to the best varieties of the berries already mentioned, as well as of currants, gooseberries and lingonberries. In our selection of varieties, taste often played the most important role, but we have also taken great care not to recommend any varieties that are particularly susceptible to disease or frost. And if they do, we have noted any sensitivities. So, without further ado, these are the best berry varieties:
When purchasing a raspberry plant, there is a choice to be made between the summer and autumn varieties. There are some differences between summer and autumn raspberries, which should be considered. One of them is the taste and, in our opinion, the summer varieties definitely exceed in this category. For this reason, with one exception – the yellow autumn raspberry ‘Golden Everest’ – almost all of the raspberries mentioned in our list are summer raspberries. However, autumn raspberry varieties are less susceptible to disease. Therefore, if you have experienced problems with your raspberry plants before, it might be wiser to compromise a little and choose an autumn raspberry variety.
- ‘Himboqueen’: Very high-yielding raspberry with very large, very tasty, sweetish fruits; strong vigour; only recommended for large gardens; very sensitive to root death and viruses.
- ‘Meeker’: Very aromatic variety; medium-sized, beautiful fruit with good shelf life; strong young shoot growth; resistant to disease; frequently cultivated variety with high susceptibility to frost and dehydration; only recommended in sheltered locations.
- ‘Rubaca’: Good, sweet-aromatic taste and high yield; medium sized, rather soft, medium juicy fruits; very robust and frost hardy; resistant to root diseases.
- ‘Himbostar’: A variety with low susceptibility to disease; good yield with sufficient rainfall or irrigation; bright red, medium-sized berries with plenty of juice; sweet, very aromatic taste; slightly susceptible to grey mould.
- ‘Golden Queen’: Yellow summer raspberry with medium-size, round, very tasty fruits; abundant yield with exceptionally long period of harvest; relatively robust, healthy plant.
- ‘Golden Everest’: Medium early ripening yellow autumn raspberry with large berries; sweet and very aromatic; frost hardy and otherwise resistant.
In the case of blackberries, the more popular varieties are often the spikeless ones, or those that are sometimes falsely called thornless. Because these varieties were bred for their lack of thorns rather than taste, some of them are rather inferior in their taste. However, there are some thornless varieties (e.g. ‘Waldo’, ‘Loch Ness’, ‘Navaho’) which are just as exceptional in their deliciousness as the ordinary thorny varieties.
- ‘Silvan’: Very early, slow-growing variety; very large and delicious berries; high frost resistance, but very susceptible to tendril disease.
- ‘Waldo’: high-yielding, extremely precocious variety with a long harvest period; large, very tasty fruits with very small seeds; prickly; medium-strong, compact-growing, can therefore be planted a little narrower.
- ‘Loch Ness’ or ‘Nessy’: Maturing from early/mid-July; medium-strength, thornless rods; very large, firm berries; aromatic, sweet-sour taste.
- ‘Theodor Reimers’: An heirloom and abundantly yielding variety; ripening from the end of July; prickly, very long, frost-sensitive tendrils; very sweet, aromatic and juicy, albeit somewhat smaller berries; no specific soil requirements.
- ‘Navaho’: Also a late ripening variety; large, firm fruits with a very aromatic, sweet-sour taste; perhaps the most aromatic of the thornless blackberries; very upright, long rods; robust variety.
While raspberries, currants and others have been growing in people’s home gardens for quite some time, blueberries have been harvested in the forests for the most part. However, cultivating blueberries at home is growing in popularity. Although the home-grown blueberries are not quite as aromatic as the wild varieties, their size and crispness make them just as wonderful.
- ‘Duke’: Very rich bearing, early ripening (from the beginning of July) variety; large, firm fruits with very good, aromatic taste; dense growth; very frost hardy.
- ‘Denise Blue’: A gorgeous plant bearing large, firm, very tasty and aromatic fruits; medium yield.
- ‘Legacy’: Medium yielding variety; medium sized, firm, very tasty fruits; resistant to grey mould and anthracnose rot.
- ‘Darrow’: very good, late ripening (from about mid-August) flavour; very large, firm fruits; slightly acidic taste; large-growing.
While red currants have a higher fruit acid content than white and black currants and therefore taste more sour, white currants are somewhat milder and sweeter. Black currants, which by the way belong to another plant species, are rather harsh. They are therefore rarely eaten fresh and more frequently enjoyed in the form of jelly, juices or liqueur. This is actually a pity because black currants are, in fact, five times richer in vitamin C than red or white currants.
- ‘Jonkheer van Tets’: An heirloom, early ripening (from mid-June), red currant variety; vigorous and richly fruiting; juicy, aromatic, large berries; possibly the fruit with the best taste among the red currants; demanding in terms of location; not recommended for regions with high precipitation, otherwise the risk of disease increases; suitable for hedge training; sensitive to frost.
- ‘Rolan’: Robust and resilient variety with large, light red, firm berries; acidic-aromatic taste; medium vigorous growth; ‘Rolan’ tends to grow weakly if it is not pruned sufficiently; well suited for locations with more rain; susceptible to coulure.
Note: Coulure is a physiological disorder in which some flowers do not produce berries due to various causes. However, this is only of visual importance, as some berries are missing from the grape. Coulure has no influence on taste and quality.
- ‘Red’: Medium late variety with red berries; acidic, very aromatic taste; high yields; very vigorous growth; somewhat frost-prone due to early flowering, otherwise robust and not susceptible to coulure; resistant to blight.
- ‘Vit Jätte’: Rich white currant with large yellow berries; mildly sweet, excellent taste; medium vigorous growth; somewhat susceptible to mildew.
- ‘Primus’: White, slow-growing currant; medium to late ripening; small, white-yellowish fruits; many seeds in the fruits; sweet, very aromatic taste; bountiful yields.
- ‘Bona’: early ripening blackcurrant with large fruits; excellent taste; very short grape; medium vigorous growth; tolerant to mildew.
- ‘Ometa’: Also black, medium-late to late currant variety; large, aromatic and extremely tasty fruits; strong, upright growth; abundantly bearing; relatively robust plant.
Gooseberries have never really attracted much attention in commercial cultivation and are therefore not that present in the supermarkets. This makes it all the more important for gooseberry enthusiasts to grow the sour fruits in their own gardens. These two are our favourite gooseberry varieties:
- ‘Hönings Früheste’: Very early ripening, green gooseberry; vigorous growth; medium sized, soft fruits; excellent taste.
- ‘Rolonda’: Late ripening, red gooseberry with small, dark, very good tasting berries; medium vigorous growth; resistant to mildew.
Cranberries come from North America and form tendrils with a height of 25 cm. The cranberry plants are gorgeous and are therefore ideal as ground covers.
- ‘Early Black’: Early ripening variety with medium sized, dark red to slightly black berries; very aromatic fruits; very frost hardy.
- ‘Bergman’: Abundantly bearing variety with medium sized, dark red fruits; grows flat and forms a lot of foliage; ideal as ground cover.
- ‘Stevens’: This variety is recommended for drier soils and harsher climates; grows quickly and is very productive.
Many people only know lingonberries as jams found on the supermarket shelves. These berries are striking not just because of their deliciousness; they are also stunning visually. The bright red berries are vibrant eye-catchers next to the small dark green leaves. In a similar way to cranberries, lingonberries can be cultivated like ground covering plants. To those who would like to cook with their own lingonberries, we recommend the following varieties:
- ‘Coral’: Round, medium red berries; shoots are strongly branched and reach a height of approx. 30 cm; well suited for plant troughs.
- ‘Sussi’: Grows about 15 to 25 cm tall; large, round, dark red berries.