Growing Arctostaphylos (Bearberry)

Latin Name Pronunciation: ark-toe-staf'-il-lohs

Evergreen shrub with small, glossy green leaves. Tubular flowers in May-June are followed by berries in the fall, when the leaves turn bronzy-red. Bearberry spreads into a thick, broad mat 4-6in tall, and from 20in to as much as 15ft wide.

CULTURE: Full sun to part shade. Soil should be lean and sandy, very quick to drain, and acidic (4.5 to 5.5 pH). Never fertilize this plant, as it prefers infertile soils. Space 12-24in apart. Seldom needs any pruning other than removal of dead twigs. Not a good choice for the Southeast or the desert Southwest.

GROWTH: Can be slow growing, but once started an individual plant can spread to infinity.

SUGGESTED USE: Use as a ground cover; excellent at the shore, because it is very salt-tolerant. Known by many common names, including Kinnikinnick, Mealberry, Hog Cranberry, Sandberry, Mountain Box and Bear's Grape. Native to northern areas of North America, Europe and Asia, it occurs as far south as Virginia.

 

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