What: Vaccinium ovatum, or evergreen huckleberry, is one of the most versatile and underused native plants of the Pacific Northwest. It provides a regional feel to our gardens and helps define the Northwest landscape. Typically thought of as a woodland plant, it performs equally well in full sun. In spring its small, leathery leaves have tones of copper and bronze, and they mature to shiny dark green. Small, urn-shaped white flowers hang under the foliage in spring, transforming to succulent blue-black berries by late summer. These make delicious jam or jelly. The small leaves of this shrub create a fine texture, but its slightly irregular growth habit keeps it interesting.
Where: Evergreen huckleberry is an adaptable plant which grows well full sun to dappled shade. It does equally well in deep shade, but may not flower or fruit. Provide plants with a well-drained or sandy soil. If the drainage is adequate it will tolerate clay. It works well with plants with larger leaves, such as rhododendrons. Use evergreen huckleberry in informal groupings or as a natural low screen. Surprisingly it will also shear into a dense formal hedge.
Size: Grows to 6 feet tall by 4 feet wide in 10 years.
Care: Once established evergreen huckleberry is drought tolerant, but flowering and fruiting is better with occasional watering during dry weather. Little pruning is needed to maintain a nice looking shrub.