For gardeners who have minimal time but want maximum reward, the red chokeberry shrub (Aronia arbutifolia) is the perfect choice. The shrub requires little maintenance, has pink tinged blooms in spring, shiny green leaves and bright red berries that last all winter. In autumn the chokeberry rivals the burning brush for color turning a brilliant red. Here's how to enjoy this all-season delight.
Things You'll Need
- Red chokeberry shrub
- Knife or garden shears
- Mulch or other organic material
Determine a planting location. For best color and fruit, plant the red chokeberry in full sun. Planting in partial shade results in less berry production. Soil should be moist and well drained, but the shrub has been known to tolerate both wet and dry soil types.
Dig the planting hole 4 times the width of the root ball and to a depth equal to the root ball. The top of the red chokeberry root ball should be even with the ground when placed in the planting hole.
Prepare your shrub for planting by carefully removing it from the container and checking the roots. If they seem to be growing in a circular pattern, gently spread them out before placing the shrub in the hole. If planting a balled-and-burlapped shrub, cut away half of the burlap from the root ball and remove any wire or twine around the bark and branches.
Position the chokeberry in the planting hole. Backfill a small portion of the original soil into the planting hole to secure the shrub, and fill with water. Allow the water to be absorbed, then backfill the remaining soil, and water again deeply.
Spread a layer of mulch 2 to 4 inches deep over the entire planting area. Maintain this layer of mulch throughout the growing season to keep the soil moist, cool and free of weeds.
Tips & Warnings
- The red chokeberry is a deciduous shrub that is ideal for planting in hardiness zones 4 through 8. Check the USDA Hardiness Zone map to verify the shrub's suitability in your area.
- Plant red chokeberry as a specimen plant or as a screen. Mass plantings of this shrub are striking in the winter landscape and combine well with ornamental grasses.
- Maintenance requirements for the red chokeberry are minimal. To encourage growth, apply fertilizer in early November. Keep the shrub well watered and give it a good soaking just before the ground freezes. Chokeberry bushes can become "leggy" with age so prune every 2 to 3 years to encourage a denser growth. Cut between 1/3 to 1/2 of the chokeberry stems to the ground to get more light to the inside of the shrub.
- Red chokeberry bushes keep their brilliant red berries all winter. The berries of the chokeberry are sour so birds tend to leave them to the last, when few other berries are available.
- The red choke berry has a tendency to put out suckers so it is best to give this shrub plenty of room to expand.
How to Grow Aronia
A wide-ranging group of shrubs, the most common aronia varieties include black chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa), red chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia) and purple-fruited chokeberry...