I live in Ohio but I spend some time in the Rocky Mountains in Montana. A lot of growers have struggled to cultivate huckleberries, especially outside of their native range. The huckleberries in Montana are Vaccinium membranaceum, the “Common Huckleberry”, “Black Huckleberry”, or “Mountain Huckleberry.” I have several blueberries in Ohio, also in the Vaccinium family, on my property. Has anybody grafted huckleberries onto another Vaccinium species?
My theory is that I might achieve more success if I take a cutting in Montana and graft onto an established blueberry plant in Ohio, than trying to start a huckleberry from seed or by rooting a cutting in Ohio. I feel that the roots from the blueberry (which isn’t native here but grows near this region) will have better adaptations to this environment that may add vigor to the not adapted huckleberry, along with the fact that this individual blueberry plant is already established in it’s growing spot and healthy.
I haven’t been growing blueberries long enough to know from experience, but I believe that the branches are only healthy and productive for a few years. I don’t think each grafted branch would be productive very long.
If you grafted onto a young blueberry plant, you could try planting it deep with the graft below ground level so that the huckleberry scion would put out roots of its own. I think it might work. You might have to leave the graft above ground a year to let it grow enough to replant it deep. I think it would be an interesting experiment.
Thank you for sharing this idea. I happen to live where both huckleberries and blueberries thrive and have added this to my list of try's. We only have one huckelberry on our small lot but it produces many delicious berries. I'd love to have a hedge of them. As stated the hucks are very hard to grow or transplant even when moved just a bit.
At work we've transplanted quite a few and the only ones that seem to survive were actually just large bowls we dug in clay, filled with 'dirty fines' and plopped small bushes that had been carefully cultivated at a native nursery. If I remember they were about a foot tall when planted. The only attention they've got is annual shavings additions from the woodshop. They are all about 3-4 feet now and fruit and ripen weeks faster than their woodland peers, nice and warm next to the brick of our offices. Yet when we've paid attention and care moving them into same habitat they started they never seem to survive. I lazily tried to root some new growth last year with no success, might put more effort in soon.
Now that I'm writing this it's all coming back to me. With what I now know about woodchip mulch plan to dig up some soil at work where we dump chips. I'd love to see how deep the clay has been impacted in the past decade, since we moved into the clay field. Love that I was part of projects in the past I didn't realize would become great experiments! The more we learn!
“The beautiful thing about learning is that nobody can take it away from you.” – B.B. King
Thank you to those that responded. I did not have any experience that would guide me to answer the question so I flagged it for attention. More questions along this line have come up and I have come to the conclusion with research that grafted or transplanted this family will only thrive in the soil and amount of overstory that the variety is adapted to. For example: "Relationships: There are about 450 species of Vaccinium worldwide, about 40 in North America with about 15 in the Pacific Northwest. The genus Vaccinium includes Blueberries, Huckleberries, Cranberries, Lingonberries, Whortleberries, Bilberries and Cowberries. Other Northwest Vacciniums will be discussed later under the sections on Deciduous Shrubs and Groundcovers." Almost all of the species not native will thrive in my climate but only with the soil and light exposure that matches there species. Most efforts to transplant Evergreen Huckleberry, Vaccinium ovatum that is so prolific here fail because there habitat is so specific that 100 feet from where they came they will die. Even more so "Where do red huckleberries grow?
It grows from southeast Alaska to central California, Oregon, and Washington, It occurs in the lower Cascades to the coast. Habitat: Red huckleberry grows on old decaying stumps or logs in moist coniferous woods, wetlands, or in the transition zone of wetlands. Basically you have to transplant a stump in order to transplant them. I know because I have tried.
So the question is Can you match the habitat the the berries were growing in in Montana? I have come to the conclusion for me: scattered blueberry and huckleberry patches in there niche but blueberry fields forever ? No.