If you want to buy the Aronia Berry or Black Chokeberry (Aronia melancarpa) plant, you will get a deciduous shrub growing six feet high and wide. It grows rapidly and becomes an impressive large shrub within a year. It has dark green foliage that turns red in the fall.
In May, it becomes covered with little white flowers that turn into glossy deep purple, almost black berries. Due to its aesthetic beauty, the bush is famous as an ornamental shrub in North America. It is particularly useful in absorbing swampy areas.
An Overview of Aronia Berries
Fresh chokeberries right from the bush are not particularly tasty raw. They are so astringent that even the birds leave them for last or eat them as a last resort in late autumn or winter. They are full-sized & still green in early August but ripe & shiny black before August’s end, & they are least astringent after they have been through a couple of autumn frosts. The black fruit tends to hang in clusters of around 30 berries.
If harvested, they should be used primarily for juice production or pancake syrups, & will need sweetening in the process. The standard steam method of juice extraction produces two cups of juice per pound of chokeberries. If mixed half with a naturally sweet apple juice, no additional sugar will be needed.
Description of the Aronia Shrub
The common name chokeberry plants have been used as landscapes since the 1700s. Thanks to its ornamental attributes throughout the seasons, it is a popular upright plant. In spring, it has white flowers, which develop into black fruits in late summer. Then the fall color of the leaves can be an attractive mix of red, yellow, and orange, with a fantastic red/purple color in the Autumn Magic cultivars.
While the berries are often left by birds, the browse of the plant often provides for wild deer and rabbits and has helped with the natural propagation of the plant. The plant’s adaptability and its potential to thrive in swamps, bogs, woodlands, and soils with varying pH levels, also contribute to the hardiness levels of the shrub.
Soil and Weather Conditions Required by the Aronia Plant
They last on the branches until late autumn or even into winter. The aronia berry is a native shrub from Eastern North America, ranging from Florida to Nova Scotia, inland as far as Indiana, & as far off as Greenland. Red chokeberry doesn’t tend to be round in the Midwest, but black chokeberry can be found around Minnesota, and both plants are common in Newfoundland and Ontario, Canada.
It is terribly forgiving of growing conditions, tolerating swamp-like conditions or dryness; acid, neutral, or mildly alkaline soil; full sun or half shade (though it will not have its best appearance in too much shade); are rarely troubled by insects or diseases; & extremely cold hardy. It is very little stressed by transplanting & a young shrub can be planted in any season with equal success. In addition, it can manage short periods of drought.
About the only thing it can’t handle is too much heat. Its ideal condition is moist, well-draining soil in bright sunshine. In the partial shade, it will get lankier but still an excellent shrub.
It can be propagated from soft cuttings in late spring or early summer. Take the cutting a half-inch below a node, cutting at a sharp, smooth angle, touching the raw end with rooting hormone, & start it rooting in a cold frame or covered pot. A third method of propagation is merely to slice off suckers with a spade & transplanting them immediately into the areas new shrubs are wanted.
The species grown for fruit and antioxidants is Aronia Melanocarpa. There is a closely related species, Aronia arbutifolia, a coastal plain species from Newfoundland to Florida and Texas.
Aronia melanocarpa does better in moist soil. It seems to be a tough plant, surviving weed competition on sandy loam soil, though with little growth. The foliage is handsome.
A poster to the North American Fruit Explorers list reported that some strains are eligible for fresh eating and others, harsh for fresh eating, are good juiced. Most suppliers list it as a plant for all soil types – sand to clay soil, shade, and wet soil. It does alright in near full sun and would give the most fruit production.
It has a suckering, colonizing habit, which means it can’t be entirely ignored if one doesn’t want it spreading.
The plant was introduced to Russia in the late 1800s and cultivated throughout Central and Eastern European countries. As a result, the plant has been widely studied in these countries in state-directed research programs seeking to improve health through natural products for food and medicinal use.
It has gained popularity as a healthy food source with its commercially available fruits and juice for home cooking in beverages, jams, fillings, wines, etc. The aronia juice has a unique taste, with a pleasant tartness somewhat similar to cranberry but with sweeter low notes as in blackberry. Its juice and extracts from the berries have also been used medicinally.
Can You Plant Your Own Aronia Berry Plant?
The aronia berry plant is indeed very resistant and adaptable to a wide variety of conditions regarding both soil and weather. And it’s also true that you can plant this excellent fruit-yielding shrub all by yourself.
However, as with other plants, you must carefully research and plan before planting. Properly acclimating your aronia berry plant is an essential part of this process. Let’s look at how you can best do this.
Planting Your Aronia Berry Plant In the Greenhouse
As mentioned before, aronia plants do not deal well when placed in direct heat, so it’s recommended that you place them in a sheltered place or in the shade after purchasing your plants.
- You will need to gradually increase the time they spend outdoors each day, starting from 3-4 hours daily, bringing them back inside come night-time.
- Water your plants regularly and make sure that after 2-3 days, you introduce them daily to sunlight during the morning hours only.
- After about 7 days, your aronia plants will be better acclimatized to outdoor temperatures – granted they do not exceed 50F.
- After 7-10 days, you can securely plant your aronia plant in its permanent location. It’s best if you move them on a cloudier day and make sure you water them sufficiently.
- Once you take this step, it’s important to also observe the leaves of the plants. If you notice any discoloration in the foliage, you can bring your plants back into the sun and attempt this step later.
How Do You Choose the Location for Your Aronia Plants?
When planting your aronia plants, location is everything. If properly chosen, it can prevent you from dealing with unpleasant issues down the line. The location of your aronia berry plants should also consider cross-pollination, sun and soil conditions, and additional space for future planting.
- Although berry plants tend to self-pollinate, it’s better to plant more varieties of aronia berry plants to ensure a larger and richer fruit crop. In most cases, the absence of a pollinator leads to an absence of fruits.
- You will need a sunny place for your aronia plant, with well-drained, fertile soil. Planting your aronia berry plant in heavy clay soils is not recommended since these plants need proper soil drainage. Most berry plants do well even with poorer soils that don’t offer much nutrition – you can add fertilizer, and your plants will flourish.
- You will likely want to expand your little aronia garden in the future, so make sure you find a location for your plants that accommodates extra space if needed.
How Do You Prepare the Soil for Your Aronia Berry Plants?
You may have every other great condition for planting, but if your soil isn’t adequately prepared, your aronia berry plants won’t be able to thrive.
Soil preparation involves separating compacted soil and replenishing it with much-needed vitamins and minerals. It’s recommended that you prepare the soil in moderate weather conditions, whenever the ground is not frozen or too wet.
- Dig a wide enough hole that can accommodate a wide network of roots – it’s the only way to ensure the plant’s healthy growth and development. The topsoil should be kept aside, only to be put back into the bottom of the hole.
- The soil needs to be loosened. Add garden compost, dehydrated cow manure, and garden compost into your topsoil pile.
- You can gather all the organic materials your lawn offers in spring or fall. That will help your plants develop healthier – shredded leaves and grass clippings will feed the soil and help it break down easier.
- To improve soil, you can always add amendments such as lime, manure, peat moss, sand, and lime.
To better recognize the type of soil you have in your backyard, it’s best to take these elements into consideration when you’re doing the assessment for your aronia berry plants:
- Sandy soils are easily recognizable through the large light-colored particles they contain – this can easily be seen by the unaided eye. The texture will feel coarse in your hand, whether dry or wet and will not form a ball in your squeezed fist. Sandy soils are usually loose and will allow moisture to penetrate them, but they can’t retain it for too long.
- Clay and silt soils are the opposite of sandy soils. They contain many tiny particles, making the soil feel sticky when wet. These types of soils are good at holding moisture, but they resist water infiltration. This is why you’ll often see puddles forming on these types of soils that also tend to become compacted.
- Loam soil is a mixture of organic matter, clay, silt, or sand and typically feels loose and rich. Moist loam soil usually forms a ball when squeezed into your fist – this will easily crumble when poked with a finger. These soils typically absorb water and store moisture quite well. This water absorption and retention degree will always depend on the level of sand or clay these soils contain.
What Parts of the Aronia Berry Plant Can You Use?
Berries are the best and most used components of the aronia berry plant. These berries have been used for centuries in making tea, wine, juice, tincture, jams, jellies, and desserts.
Integrate aronia berries in your smoothies by adding other antioxidant fruits,such as bananas and pineapple, to balance out the taste. Similarly, add sugar to your aronia berries to create delicious jams and jellies.
You can add aronia berries to your morning muesli, either in their fresh or dry form – together with granola, seeds, and other fruits, your breakfast will immediately turn into a powerhouse of nutrients ready to sustain your body throughout the day.
Aronia berry teas and wines have also become popular worldwide, so don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy such amazing drinks. This plant’s leaves make excellent tea ingredients – mix with honey, and you’re on your way to enjoying a delicious drink.
Suppose you like baking sweets and goodies and are willing to experiment in the kitchen. In that case, you can incorporate aronia berries into your desserts. There are many aronia berry recipes to try, and you’ll be delighted by the result.
Another popular form to consume aronia berries is widely seen as their powdered form. Many people are thrilled with the health benefits they get when taking powdered aronia supplements.
Regardless of how you choose to integrate these fruits into your diet, you can be sure to benefit from the wonderful health properties they embody.
Ultimately, the aronia berry plant does not only deserve its merits for the unique fruits it yields but also because it’s a versatile plant that thrives in a myriad of soil and weather conditions. If you want to plant it yourself, follow the steps above to ensure your aronia plant will give rich and tasty crops.
The delicious antioxidant fruits the aronia plant gifts us with are some of the best and most nutritious fruits out there, so having such plants in your backyard may just turn things around for your diet and lifestyle.
Learn more about the Aronia Berry, Aronia Plant Description, and the Aronia’s benefits, uses, and availability: