The Aronia Plant
The dark purple Aronia berry grows in heavy umbels on robust shrubs. The plant originally comes from North America and was already highly valued by the native inhabitants there. The berry reached Central Europe and Germany via Russia and Eastern Europe more than 100 years ago. Because the aronia contains so many important vital substances, it is gaining more and more fans as a native fruit.
What does Aronia look like?
The Aronia plant is a deciduous shrub up to 2 metres high with pointed, striking wine-red winter buds. The leaves are 2-8cm long, usually short, pointed, finely serrated with midrib black-red hairs on top. Only quite late – in May – does the aronia flower bloom with white flowers on umbels. This has the advantage that the aronia flowers are often spared during late spring frosts.
Until August, roundish, dark purple, almost black aronia berries 6-13 mm in size develop – about the size of cultivated blueberries. Depending on the variety, up to 30 small berries can hang from an umbel. When the berries are cut open, you can see a similarity to an apple with small seeds arranged symmetrically around the centre. The flesh is intensely red in colour and the darker the flesh, the riper the fruit. The full fruit ripeness is reached at the end of August/beginning of September. In autumn, the aronia shrubs delight with their bright red foliage. In winter, the aronia shrubs lose their leaves and overwinter in snow and frost of up to -35°C.
Aronia Cultivation - at Home and on a Plantation
Anyone can have an Aronia in their own garden. Aronia can also be used as an ornamental in a potted plant for the balcony or terrace. The plant is quite undemanding as far as the soil is concerned though it doesn’t like too loamy or sandy soils. The more sunshine, the more fructose will be formed in the fruit.
Which Aronia Varieties are there?
Through breeding, crossing and selection, various Aronia varieties have been developed, from the wild varieties of black fruited aronia (Aronia melanocarpa), plum-leaved aronia (Aronia prunifolia) and felty aronia (Aronia arbutifolia) for gardening and fruit growing. With their strong green leaves and well-branched shoots, the wild Aronia varieties do not grow as high as some cultivated varieties.
- Nero, Viking, Ahonnen from Finland
- Rubina, Hugin from Sweden
- Fertödi from Hungary
- Aron, Serina und Hakkija from Denmark
- Moravska sladkoploda from Slovakia
- Kashamachi und Mandschurica from Estonia
The cultivar “Aronia Nero”, for example, is equally important for both domestic cultivation and agricultural use. It forms larger corymb clusters and reaches a fruit weight of 1.0 to 1.5 g per berry at a height of up to 2.5 metres.
Cultivation & Care Tips for Aronia Plants
So that you can enjoy your Aronia berry plants to the full, we are happy to help you with some important tips. We have practical cultivation tips for your cultivated Aronia plants and wild plants from us.
The Aronia is generally a very undemanding plant. It is robust and can easily tolerate temperatures down to minus 30 degrees Celsius. Nevertheless, soil quality and the right location are important factors for optimal growth and a high yield. From our many years of experience with the different Aronia varieties, we would therefore like to give you a few helpful tips for cultivation and care. After all, you want to enjoy Aronia berries for a long time.
The best Location
Despite its winter hardiness, your Aronia plant will enjoy light and warmth during the growing season and so a sunny planting place would be ideal. The sunnier the location, the more fruit the plant will bear. The Aronia is also suitable for harsh climates – windy zones and cultivation at altitudes up to 1000 metres above sea level pose no problem at all. It can be planted in a hedge or as a solitary plant to beautify your garden. Bear in mind the intense red colour of the leaves in autumn and choose a place that will make the Aronia plant an ornament in your garden.
The ideal Soil
According to our experience, mixed soils of sand and clay have proven to be ideal. If you want a high yield, it is advisable to enrich the soil with some humus, to aerate it well and to ensure a pH value between 6.0 and 6.5. Pure sandy or clay soils should be avoided. If the soil is too sandy, water and fertiliser will not be retained and you will have to water very often, especially in dry periods. If the soil is too loamy, the water will stay on the surface too long and will hardly reach the roots. Waterlogging should be avoided at all costs! Another disadvantage is that clay soils become rock-hard on hot days. You can test whether your soil is right by putting some of it between your fingers. If you can form a snake from it and get dirty fingers, you have a sandy clay soil. If the soil is too loamy, you can loosen it up with coarse- grained sand and small pebbles. Add some more compost and your Aronia plant will feel really good!
Harvest and Care
The Aronia “Superberry” has no special care requirements. It thrives in almost all soils. Only very calcareous soil hinders the Aronia in its growth. Since Aronia is a very frugal plant, you will not need to fertilize a lot. To rejuvenate the shrub, remove individual shoots. For pruning (1st and 2nd year), remove crossing shoots that are too close together. A vigorous cut will result in a strong budding. Harvest: Aronia is a self-fertile plant and bears from the 2nd year of growth. The ripe Aronia berries can be harvested from the end of August/beginning of September, when the berries are black-red on the inside. The berries should have a very strong colour due to their high anthocyanin content!
Planting Instructions for bare-root Plants
The ideal time for planting your Aronia is from March to May or, as long as there has not been any frost, from September to December. During these periods the Aronia is outside its growth period which allows the plant to acclimatise to the location and take root in peace. The bare-rooted Aronia plant can be planted in winter without any problems as long as there is no ground frost. The potted Aronia plant can also be planted in summer, as it is already very well rooted. You should only water the Aronia planted in summer more often, as the roots are not yet long enough to get enough water.
After you have received the bare-rooted Aronia plant, please protect it immediately! Protect the bare root from sun, drought and frost. Until you have planted the Aronia, temporarily cover the shrubs with soil or store the bare-rooted plant in a wind- protected room and cover the roots with wet bags.
Planting and Cutting Time
Planting time: The planting period is from March to May and from September to November. Pruning time: The Aronia plant should be pruned in late autumn, winter or early spring. However, Aronia very rarely needs pruning.
Before planting, loosen the soil and remove all weeds. If necessary, incorporate organic fertilisers such as horn meal, compost or manure into the soil. Before planting bare-rooted Aronia, cut the root tips, but only cut them back far enough to remove any injuries to the plant. Shorten the shoots to 2/3 of their height, but leave a longer central shoot as the leading shoot.
Planting and Fertilizing
Dig a hole slightly deeper and larger than the root volume. This prevents compaction in the soil and avoids waterlogging. Place the bare-rooted Aronia in the middle of the hole and cover it with soil including the root neck. The area of the planting may be 2 to 3 cm higher than the soil outside the planting hole, as the planting area will usually be lowered slightly by rain. Then water the plant vigorously. Fertilization: Use organic fertiliser such as horn meal, compost or manure for fertilising. Manure contains important minerals and decomposes over 3 years. The straw in the manure stimulates soil life and produces humus. Liming promotes the soil structure and raises the pH value. Bark mulch protects the soil from drying out and can prevent weeds.
Planting Instructions for potted Plants
The Aronia plant usually grows easily in pots because its strong root volume means that it retains practically all its roots when transplanted. It is not necessary to prune the plant before transplanting. Loosen the soil and remove all weeds before planting. If necessary, you should incorporate organic fertilizers such as horn meal, compost or manure into the soil. Before planting the Aronia, water it thoroughly.
Please place the plants offset and not higher or lower than in the growing pot. Add about 2-3 cm of soil. Then press down the soil well without compacting it too much. Then pour water on the Aronia vigorously. Avoid the midday sun and please note that peat substrate dries out faster than the grown garden soil!