If you want to buy the Aronia Berry or Black Chokeberry (Aronia melancarpa) plant, you will get a deciduous shrub that can grow six feet high and wide. It grows rapidly and becomes an impressive large shrub within a year?s time. It has dark green foliage that turns red in the fall. In May, it becomes covered with little white flowers that turn into little glossy deep purple, almost black berries. Due to its aesthetic beauty, the bush is popular as an ornamental shrub in North America, and is particularly useful in absorbing swampy areas.
An Overview of Aronia Berries
Fresh chokeberries right from the bush are not particularly tasty raw, being 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, & the are least astringent after they have been through a couple of autumn frosts. If harvested they should be used primarily for juice production or pancake syrups, & will need sweetening in the process. Standard steam-method of juice extraction produces two cups of juice per pound of chokeberries. If this is mixed half with a naturally sweet apple juice, no additional sugar will be needed.
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. 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; & fantastically cold hardy. It is very little stressed by transplanting & a young shrub can be planted in any season with equal success.
About the only thing it can’t handle is too much heat. It?s ideal condition is a moist well-draining soil in bright sunshine. In shade it will get lankier but still a nice shrub.
It can be propagated from soft cuttings taken 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 seems to do 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 lists it as a plant for all soil types sand to clay, shade, wet soil. It seems to do alright in near full sun and would give the most fruit.
It does have a suckering, colonizing habit which means it can’t be entirely ignored if one doesn’t want it spreading about.
The plant was introduced to Russia in the late 1800s and subsequently cultivated throughout Central and Eastern European countries. The plant has been widely studied in these countries in state-directed research programs seeking to improve health through the use of natural products for food and medicinal use. It has gained popularity as a healthy food source with its fruits and juice used commercially and 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?
It’s true that the aronia berry plant is 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 wonderful fruit-yielding shrub all by yourself. However, as with any other plants, you will require careful research and planning before planting. Properly acclimating your aronia berry plant is an essential part of this process, so let’s take a look at how you can best do this.
Planting Your Aronia Berry Plant In the Greenhouse
As already 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 you’ve purchased your plants.
- You will need to gradually increase the time they spend outdoors each day, starting from 3-4 hours daily, and to bring them back inside come nighttime.
- Water your plants regularly and make sure that after 2-3 days you start introducing 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 go over 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 at a later date.
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 having to deal with unpleasant issues down the line. The location of your aronia berry plants should also take into consideration cross-pollination, sun and soil conditions, as well as additional space for future planting.
- Although berry plants tend to self-pollinate, it’s ideal that you 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. It’s not recommended that you plant your aronia berry plant in heavy-clay soils, since these plants need proper soil drainage. Most berry plants do well even with poorer soils that don’t offer much in terms of nutrition – you can simply add fertilizer and your plants will flourish.
- It’s very likely that you will 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 ever needed in the future.
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 right, your aronia berry plants won’t be able to thrive.
Soil preparation will be made with the purpose of breaking down any compacted soil, as well as to replenish 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. In order to do this, you can add garden compost, dehydrated cow manure and garden compost into your topsoil pile.
- During spring or fall you can gather all the organic materials your lawn has to offer and that will help your plants develop in a healthier way – shredded leaves and grass clippings – they will feed the soil and help it break down easier.
- In order to improve any kind of soil, you can always add amendments such as lime, manure, peat moss, sand and lime.
In order 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 light-colored large particles they contain – this can easily be seen by the unaided eye. The texture will feel coarse in your hand, regardless if it’s 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 a multitude of very small particles, which make the soil feel sticky when wet. These types of soils are good with 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 feel loose and rich. Moist loam soil will usually form a ball when squeezed into your fist – this will easily crumble when poked with a finger. These types of soils typically absorb water and store moisture quite well – this degree of water absorption and retention 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. For hundreds of years, these berries have been used in making tea, wines, 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, you can add sugar to your aronia berries in order 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 all across the world, so make sure you don’t pass up on the opportunity to enjoy such amazing drinks. The leaves of this plant make excellent ingredients for tea – simply mix with honey and you’re on your way to enjoying an excellent tea.
If you like baking sweets and goodies and are willing to experiment in the kitchen, you can also incorporate aronia berries into your desserts. There are many aronia berry recipes to try, 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 certain to benefit from the wonderful health properties they embody.
Ultimately, the aronia berry plant does not only deserve its merits for the amazing fruits it yields, but also because it’s a versatile plant that manages to thrive in a myriad of soil and weather conditions. If you’re looking to plant it by yourself, make sure you 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: