Bush Fruit

Bush Fruit:


Various kinds of raspberries can be cultivated from hardiness zones 3 to 9. Raspberries can be planted in the winter as dormant canes, although planting of tender, plug plants or seedling has become much more common and can be found generally in a one gallon size in the greenhouse. Plants are typically planted in fertile, well drained soil; raspberries should be  planted in raised beds/ridges, if there is any question about root rot problems.

The flowers can be a major nectar source for honeybees and other pollinators.

Raspberries are very vigorous and can be locally invasive. They propagate using basal shoots (also known as suckers), extended underground shoots that develop roots and individual plants. They can sucker new canes some distance from the main plant. For this reason, raspberries spread well, and can take over gardens if left unchecked.

The fruit is harvested when it comes off the torus/receptacle easily and has turned a deep color (red, black, purple, or golden yellow, depending on the species and cultivar). This is when the fruits are ripest and sweetest. Excess fruit can be made into raspberry jam or frozen.

There are numerous raspberry cultivars, but only two main types of raspberry. The summer-bearing type produces an abundance of fruit on second-year canes (floricanes) within a relatively short period in midsummer. The double or "everbearing" plants bear fruit on first-year canes (primocanes) in the late summer and fall, as well as a summer crop on second-year canes.

Here are the most popular varieties that do well in the Calgary area.
Boyne raspberries are the hardiest:

Boyne Red


5/5 ft. 152/152 cm.

Full sun

Hardy, heavy producer of sweet red berries

Black Jewel

Dark purple

5/5 ft. 152/152 cm.

Full sun

Hardy, heavy producer of purple, juicy fruit

Heritage Red


5/5 ft. 152/152 cm.

Full sun

Everbearing producer in September



5/5 ft. 152/152 cm.

Full sun

Cross between blackberry and raspberry

Yellow-Fall Gold


5/5 ft. 152/152 cm.

Full sun

Everbearing variety with unique gold fruit


Blueberries are perennial flowering plants with indigo-colored berries from the section Cyanococcus within the genus Vaccinium (a genus that also includes cranberries and bilberries). 

Species in the section Cyanococcus are the most common fruits sold as "blueberries" and are native to North America. Blueberries are usually erect. Prostrate shrubs can vary in size from 10 centimeters (3.9 in) to 4 meters (13 ft) in height. The smaller species are known as "low-bush blueberries", while the larger species are known as "high-bush blueberries".

The leaves can be either deciduous or evergreen, the flowers are bell-shaped, white, pale pink or red, sometimes tinged greenish. The fruit is a berry 5–16 millimeters (0.20–0.63 in) in diameter with a flared crown at the end; they are pale greenish at first, then reddish-purple, and finally dark purple when ripe.

Blueberries at harvest should be plump and fresh looking. Berries of low quality are soft and watery or have a shriveled appearance. Color, which may be blue, black, bluish-black or purple is the key to ripeness. Look for berries that have a uniform color. Blueberries usually have a grayish waxy deposit on the skin, which is called bloom. The amount of bloom present depends on the variety of the berry.

The bloom on the berry is a protective coating; therefore, blueberries should not be washed until just before they are going to be used. Blueberries will spoil quickly if left at room temperature. They can, however, be stored for several days in the refrigerator. Canning or freezing blueberries will extend shelf life and provide your family with blueberries throughout the year. They have a sweet taste with variable acidity when mature. Blueberry bushes typically bear fruit in the middle of the growing season. Fruiting times are affected by local conditions such as altitude and latitude, so the height of the crop can vary from May to August depending upon these conditions.

There are many varieties of blueberries, but in the Calgary area try the Blueberries Northland Series they are proven to be hardy here. These berry bushes were developed so branches will not break under heavy snow load. Good quality with a wild berry flavour. These high bush blueberries will yield an abundance of huge tasty berries, ideal for fresh eating. These bushes will grow to about 3-4 feet tall and have very attractive red foliage in the fall. Begins producing fruit in third year.



Dark blue

3/3 ft. 91/91 cm.

Sun to part shade

Dark blue, sweet flavored fruit


Sky blue

3/3 ft. 91/91 cm.

Sun to part shade

Mild, sweet, sky blue fruit


Dark blue

4/4 ft. 122/12 cm.

Sun to part shade

Wild berry tasting, dark blue fruit


Sky blue

2/2 ft. 61/61cm.

Sun to part shade

Hardiest blueberry with sweet, sky blue fruit


Gooseberries and some currants are native to Canada. They are hardy in Alberta and are grown both for their fruits and also for their ornamental value. Bush fruits are great for small yards and provide a great fruit substitute. These berries are high in vitamin C and are used fresh and preserved. 

Plant gooseberries and currants in well-drained cool moist soil. Amend with a good compost or peat. Mulching can conserve moisture and maintain a cool soil temperature. 

Upon planting, fertilize with a high middle number, fertilizing around the base of each plant. This will help the new plants develop strong root systems. Once established you can use a fertilizer with higher first two numbers; this will help the growth of the plants coming out of the ground.
Red, white and Albol currants bear most of their fruit on 2 and 3 year old wood spurs. Spurs are shortened branches with a cluster of buds and leaves growing laterally on main branches. Gooseberries fruit along the sides of 1 year old shoots and also on the spurs of 2 and 3-year old wood. After the first year, remove weaker shoots. Leave no more than six of the strongest first-year shoots. In the third spring, leave six shoots, with three 2-year shoots and three 1-year shoots. In the fourth year,leave about nine shoots: three 1-year, three 2-year and three 3-year shoots. The aim of pruning this way is to have vigorous young shoots always coming on to take the place of wood more than three years old. After this time, the wood generally becomes less productive. In subsequent years, remove the wood that is older than three years. 

Black currants bear most of their fruit on last year's wood. Do this by pruning after planting in spring for form and to limit the number of main branches to six or eight. Prune for eight canes each season. The tips of black currant branches should not be cut back as this pruning will reduce fruit production. 

Currants and gooseberries are self-fertile, or insect pollinated. There is no need for planting different varieties for cross pollination.

In the fourth season, gooseberries will bear the most fruit; expect smaller harvests until then. Harvest berries for jelly making when the fruit is slightly green, but when preserving, pick ripe fruit. The berries often ripen arbitrarily; planning for two or three pickings will be necessary. Remember to do this as they ripen as they fall quickly afterwards. Harvest red and white currants as soon as they are clear in color. Pick the whole cluster to avoid injuring the delicate fruit. Pick black currants selectively as they ripen, before they shrivel and fall.

Red currants

Red lake: Upright bush, good quality mild-flavored, glossy, bright-red berries, borne on long clusters, ripens mid-season. The plant is subject to mildew. 


Red cross: Large, vigorous productive bushes, short to medium clusters of round, glossy bright, light red berries ripening mid-season. 


Perfection: Plants tend to spread, large, well-flavored berries, ripens mid-season. 

Black Currants:

black currants

Ben nevis: Resistant to mildew, medium size fruit 

Willoughby: Medium sized, upright bush, heavy bearer of mild-flavored fruit. The plant is very resistant to mildew. 

Magnus: Early ripening, fair productivity of medium clusters, firm medium to medium-large berries, even ripening. Cool spring weather can cause premature fruit drop. 

White currants

White grape: Medium-sized bush. Large amber-colored, mild-flavored fruit. 

White imperial: High yielding plant, fruit makes excellent jam and jelly. 



Pixwell: Moderately vigorous, good producer, very hardy, rounded bush. The fruit is medium sized, pinkish-red, good-quality and is good for jelly, preserves and sauce. 

Welcome: Large, bright red, tart berries on nearly thornless branches. 

Pembina pride: Vigorous, upright bush, berries large, green fruit at maturity. The fruit is good for processing and matures early. 

Invicta: mid-season, large green fruit 

Albol Currant:

The albol currant is grown as an ornamental, so its value as a fruiting shrub is sometimes overlooked. Albol is also commonly known as the Missouri, Colorado, California, Golden Flowering Clove or Cross Currant. They reach a height of 1 to 2.5 m. It's fruit is good for canning, pies, jam and wine. Crandall and Black Giant are common varieties that do well in Calgary. Albol currants also tolerate hot, dry weather and are well-adapted to Calgary conditions. 


The jostaberry is a cross between a black currant and a gooseberry. This thornless bush produces large clusters of berries that are dark black in color. High in vitamin C they are well-suited for making jam, jelly, juice and wine. Grow and care for them as if they were black currants.



5/5 ft. 152/152 cm.

Sun to part shade

Ornamental shrub for mass planting.



3/3 ft. 91/91 cm.

Sun to part shade

Abundant black fruit for preserves.



5/5 ft. 152/152 cm.

Sun to part shade

Ornamental golden fragrant flowers.


Dark red

6/3 ft. 183/94.cm

Sun to part shade

Cross between Black Currant and Gooseberry.


Goji berry plants are easy to grow and maintain. Although the Goji berry plant can grow in just about any soil type from sandy to clay it will do best, as you would imagine, in better quality soil. Heaping in some good compost at the time of planting will help it get established and thrive; therefore have better flowering and fruit production. Do note however, that the Goji will not do well in wet soil or boggy areas of your yard so keep them in a place where water drains away from them. Goji plants have an aggressive root system and are quite drought tolerant after they are established. 

For maximum production look for a sunny location. Although it can stand some shade know that it does best in a full sun scenario. 

Perfect for the prairies Goji berry plants can survive winter temperatures as low as -40C and summer temperatures as high as 38C and are suited for zones 2-7.

The Goji berry is a large shrub reaching heights of 2-3 meters with vines that can reach a meter plus. Pruning of the main stem and branches will keep the plant shorter, thicker and help with increased flowering and fruit production. The Goji plant grows numerous small trumpet shaped flowers in early summer. In later summer these flowers develop into bright red berries. The plant continues to flower and fruit until the first heavy frost. The Goji plant begins flowering in the second year with maximum fruit production in the 4th or 5th year.

Sea buckthorn

Sea buckthorn is a large deciduous shrub growing to a mature height of 4 to 6 m (13 to 20 ft), a spread of 3.5 m (15 ft), and an annual growth of 10 to 20 cm (4 to 8 in.). The flowers are inconspicuous and yellow, appearing before leaves. 

The silvery leaves provide great contrast in the garden throughout the summer with particularly attractive berries which are very showy orange-yellow berries persisting through winter.  It's irregular in shape with spiny branches. Male and female flowers occur on different plants. The six-year-old and older wood should be removed to promote vigorous growth of the shrub. Sea buckthorn prefers sandy soil, is intolerant to shade, but can survive drought conditions and also extreme winter conditions. The sea buckthorn plant can also tolerate alkaline soils so it's great for the Calgary Area. It can be a heavy suckering plant, so some control might be needed over time.  Removal of older stems will keep the plants vigorous.

It is more suitable along roadsides or out of the way plantings because of its formidable thorns. Sea buckthorn can be pruned to form a short tree or left to grow naturally to form a round bush. In a shelterbelt planting it will form and impenitrable barrier. The sea buckthorn has suckering habits and a male and female plant are needed to produce fruit. It prefers full sun and dry alkali soils. The fruit contains the highest known concentration of Vitamin C and are widely known to have medicinal properties.


June-bearing strawberries typically produce the largest fruit over a few weeks. These are further divided into early season, midseason, and late season; so, it's possible to have strawberries for more than a month.

Tips for success: Water your plants well and cover them in the winter with mulch, leaves, or straw to help them survive our temperatures.

• Honeoye
Ever-bearing strawberries usually produce two harvests a year; one in spring and one in late summer. In general, ever-bearing strawberries put out fewer runners than the June-bearing varieties so they're a good choice if space is limited. Day-neutral strawberries are now classified in this category.

• Albion
• Berri Basket Pink
• Eversweet
• Fort Laramie
• Fern
• Merlan
• Mignonette - heirloom variety
• Ozark Beauty
• Quinalt
• Seascape
• Tribute
• Tristar

Tips for success: Water your plants well and cover your plants in the winter with mulch, leaves, or straw will help them survive our temperatures.

Highbush Cranberry:

Native to Alberta, the highbush cranberry is generally planted as an ornamental plant rather than a berry producer.

However, it produces fruit which makes good jelly - it is too seedy for jams. Highbush cranberry can grow up to 3m tall. It grows in shady, moist, wooded areas, in the wild. The highbush cranberry does well in exposed locations which makes it great for landscaping here in Alberta. Stock is available at many Alberta nurseries. Plant approximately 3m apart, water in well, and cut back 1/3 of the height to promote dense bushy plants.  


Many people believe that grapes cannot be grown in Alberta, but there are a few varieties that can.

For example, the Kay Grey pictured here. This vine fruit is not the easiest plant to get growing, but if you take the time and find the right location, these plants can actually thrive here in Calgary. Many grapes prefer sunny locations and sandy soil.  

To be successful, find a location of maximum exposure to the south, such as planting on the south side of a building wall or on the south slope of a hill. It just so happens, that south sloping hills generally have warmer nighttime temperatures and are well drained; therefore, they are less likely to freeze in the spring which is the issue with growing grapes in Calgary. Plant in a soil with good texture, sand for drainage, and air flow. Light soils promote earlier ripening and a sweeter fruit. Sandy soil will dry quickly, so amending the soil with a good quality compost or peat moss to retain some water during hot periods is necessary and should be introduced at the time of planting. Plant vines where they can be trained in an east-west orientation, perpendicular to the sun path. After planting, cut back the vines to two or three strong buds. This helps prevent plant desiccation and forces growth into the lower shoots.

Grapes are not great competitors for nutrients and water, so give them their own space. It would be a good idea to make a bed that can be mulched to keep weeds to a minimum and aid in soil temperature fluctuations. When weeding, take care not to disturb the root system.  

After planting, prune the plants back to two or three buds. In the second spring, cut back the vines produced over the previous growing season to four or five strong buds. Prune grapes in late winter or early spring, however, late spring pruning may result in some `bleeding' but it does little harm to the plant. In following years, prune back all previous year's vines, leaving no more than 30 buds on each plant. Remove suckers, as they produce little to any fruit.  

Grapes are self-fertile, so one plant will produce fruit. Thinning the fruit increases berry size and hastens maturity. The best time to thin fruit is at blossom time when whole clusters of flowers can be removed. Generally, a plant with one cluster per shoot may ripen two weeks before an over-cropped plant. Also prune any shoots that cause shade to the fruit cluster this will help promote ripening and maturity quicker than left as is. 

Grapes are especially sensitive to drought. Keep them well watered. Water well until late August, then allow them to harden off for winter. Once grapes are picked, the ripening process stops. If frost is expected, then cover with a sheet or frost cloth in a manner where the sheet is not touching the plant itself. Harvest grapes for table use and for wine when both the color and flavor peak. Grapes used for jelly should be picked before they are fully ripe, when they will contain higher amounts of pectin. 

In late October before freeze-up, water the plants well. Carefully detach your vines, lay them down; then cover with 15 cm of soil followed by a layer of straw or leaves. In late spring, before the buds break, slowly remove the mulch and soil over a period of a week to 10 days. Watch the weather and don't be too hasty. Complete removal of your mulch and soil in a short period of time may, in fact, kill the grape vine. Once the vines have been uncovered, tie them and prune. Cover the plants with a sheet or frost blanket if there is a risk of frost. Keep an eye out until the risk of frost has passed.

Varieties worthy of trial are Marquette Wine Grape, Frontenac Noir Wine Grape, Frontinac Gris Wine Grape, La Crescent Wine Grape and Kay Grey.

Choke Cherry:

Choke cherries are native plants that have become a popular ornamental staple and are often used as a shelterbelt.

They sucker easily forming a dense hedge row. When planting a shelterbelt, plant the trees 2 m apart. Choke cherries also provide shelter and food for birds and small animals. Schubert choke cherry is often used as a specimen tree because of its deep wine-colored leaves. Around the home, plant choke cherries like any other ornamental tree. The fruit makes excellent jams and syrup.  

Nanking Cherry:

Nanking cherries are bright red and sweet.

These berries can be used in jelly and wine making, but because they are small and not firm, they are not considered good for canning. Nanking cherries must be cross pollinated in order to bear fruit; so, more than one plant is required.  

Mongolian Cherry:

The Mongolian cherry (Prunus fruitcosa) is native to Eastern Asia and grows well in Alberta gardens.

The medium to dark red fruit is excellent for jelly, wine, syrup and preserves. Due to its spreading form and shiny leaves, the plant has ornamental value. Cultural requirements for the Mongolian cherry are similar to that of the Nanking cherry, with one exception - Mongolians need larger row spacing because of their suckering habit. Plant them at least 2.5 m apart. 

Western Sandcherry:

For the Western sandcherry to produce fruit, it will need to be planted with a partner to facilitate cross pollination.

They will also pollinate a wide range of (Prunus)plants including late blooming plums such as Brookred and Pembina; in turn, the plums will pollinate the sandcherry. Sandcherries are hardy here in Calgary and are a very good fruit producer. Selections are pleasant to eat out of hand, as well as being good for jam and canning. Named selections of sandcherries include Mando, Manmoor and Brooks.

Romance Series Cherry:

Try these if you are looking for a sweeter cherry that does well on the prairies and is a good producer of fruit.

In 2004, the Romance series of dwarf sour cherries was released. These include 'Juliet', 'Romeo', 'Cupid', 'Valentine', and 'Crimson Passion'.

'JULIET' - (7-21-31.0):

  • Dark Red
  • Fresh eating type: excellent quality
  • Also good for processing
  • One of the best for fresh eating flavor
  • Most productive cultivar in 2009
  • Moderate vigour
  • Few suckers
  • 5.0g fruit
  • High sugar content (up to 20 brix)
  • Pits are large enough for old fashioned crank pitters

'CRIMSON PASSION' - (7-21-16.3):

  • Dark Red
  • Fresh eating type: excellent quality
  • Also good for processing
  • Low vigour, smaller yields
  • No suckers
  • 6.0g fruit
  • Highest sugar content (up to 22brix)
  • Pits are large enough for old fashioned crank pitters
  • Some dieback in 2009

'VALENTINE' - (7-19-27.6):

  • Medium Red Fruit
  • Tart pie cherry: Processing type
  • Some suckering
  • 4.5g fruit
  • This cherry may be best for making pies with no dyes needed.

'ROMEO' - (7-7-5.8):

  • Dark red/black
  • Very similar to Carmine Jewel, but much later
  • Very flavourful. Good for fresh eating and processing
  • One of the best for juice.
  • One of the most productive in 2003
  • Some dieback in 2009
  • 4.0g fruit.

'CUPID' - (7-32-19.1):

  • Black to dark red
  • Most years it is the largest of all sour cherries
  • 6.5g fruit
  • Good balanced flavour for fresh eating
  • Consistent but moderate producer
  • Blooms 1 week later than other varieties earning it the nickname 'Big & Late'
  • Few suckers
  • Pits are large enough for old fashioned crank pitters
  • Fruit too large for standard commercial sour cherry pitters
  • Very different genetically from all other U of Sk sour cherry cultivars