Lingonberry: how to plant and care in open ground

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Lingonberry: how to plant and care in open ground
Lingonberry: how to plant and care in open ground

Description of the lingonberry plant, agricultural technology for growing and planting in a personal plot, how to reproduce, how to deal with diseases and pests, curious notes and applications, varieties.

Lingonberry (Vaccinium) can also be found under the name vitis-idaea. The plant belongs to the genus Vaccinium, which is part of the Ericaceae family, or as it is also called Ericaceae. This representative of the flora is found in all zones of forests and tundra, preferring dry and damp forests of coniferous, mixed and deciduous trees. Also, such plants can grow in shrub thickets, often in peat bogs, lingonberry bushes are not uncommon on loaches and alpine meadows, in the tundra of the mountain and plain areas.

Family name Heather
Growing period Perennial
Vegetation form Shrub
Breeds Seeds, cuttings or dividing the bush
Open ground transplant terms In spring or autumn
Landing rules Leave about 25-30 cm between the plants, and the row spacing is kept 30-40 cm
Priming Light, loose, poor
Soil acidity values, pH 3, 5-5, 5 (acidic soil)
Illumination level Well lit place
Humidity level Preferably drip
Special care rules Do not flood the soil
Height options 15-20 cm
Flowering period From late spring or early summer
Type of inflorescences or flowers Racemose inflorescences
Color of flowers White or pale pink
Fruit type Multi-seeded berry
The timing of fruit ripening From the middle of summer
Decorative period Year-round
Application in landscape design Group planting in flower beds and flower beds, curb formation, alpine slides and rockeries
USDA zone 3–4

Lingonberry got its name thanks to several versions. So, one by one, it is referred to the Latin term "bacca" meaning "berry", but over time it was transformed into "Vaccinium". The first mentions of the plant are found in the works of the ancient Roman poet Virgil (43–37 BC) - Bucolic. The specific name "vitis" does not have a common opinion about the origin. So, according to some scientists, this term originated from the word "vinciris", meaning "to tie" or "knit", indicating the creeping rhizome of lingonberry, which binds a large number of aerial shoots into a single bush.

According to others, the name was used the word "vis", meaning "strength", indicating the ability of the plant to take root quickly. In Russian, the name comes from the word "lamb", translated as "red", which indicates the color of the berries. Sometimes this plant is called lingonberry.

Well, in general, the phrase "vitis-idaea" has a literal translation, as "a vine from Mount Ida", since, according to the Greeks, the goddess of fertility Cybele lived on this highest mountain of Crete, whose head was decorated with a wreath of twigs of berry plants. It was in this wreath that the leading role was assigned to the lingonberry twigs.

The roots of the plant, like many members of the heather family, are densely braided with fungal mycelium. These mushroom filaments absorb mineral solutions from the soil and redirect them to the lingonberry root system. The plant is very similar in shape to the bearberry (Arctostaphylos), also part of this family. The rhizome spreads in a horizontal plane, giving rise to ascending, highly branched shoots. Their height is in the range of 15–20 cm. The color of the stems is greenish, with an admixture of a red tint; when lignified, the shoots become light brown.

Lingonberry foliage grows on twigs in regular order and quite often. The surface of the leaves is leathery and shiny. The leaves are attached to the shoots by means of short petioles. The shape of the leaf plates is obovate or in the form of an ellipse. The edge of the leaves is solid and curved. The length of the leaves reaches 0.5–3 cm with a width of approximately 1.5 cm. The color of the deciduous mass is dark green on top, the reverse side is light greenish, matte, while on the reverse side there are depressions of small dotted outlines. It is in such pits that a club-shaped formation is contained. The cell walls of this formation contain a substance of a mucous consistency, characterized by the ability to absorb moisture. If the top side of the leaf is moistened, then the water, flowing to the back side, saturates the dimples and is absorbed by the plant. The lingonberry foliage is wintering.

It often happens that lingonberry bushes have the ability to grow through rotten stumps, spreading between bark and wood. Then the length of the shoots in this case reaches a meter mark, despite the fact that plants growing nearby on the ground do not exceed 8-15 cm in height of the stems.

Lingonberry bloom occurs at the end of May or begins at the beginning of June and stretches for half a month. Flowers are bisexual. They are attached to shortened pedicels, gathering in racemose drooping inflorescences. The number of buds in the inflorescence reaches 10–20 pieces. Brushes are placed on the tops of the shoots. The length of the flower corolla is 4–6.5 mm. Its color is white or pale pinkish, the petals grow soldered. The shape of the rim is in the form of a bell; it contains two pairs of blades with a slight deviation. The calyx of a lingonberry flower is divided into four parts, the lobes of which take the contours of a triangle, painted in a reddish tone. In the flower, there are four pairs of stamens with extended filaments in the form of hairs. The pistil is the only one, has a column slightly higher in height than the corolla. The ovary is located at the bottom.


To protect the pollen in wet weather, the corolla of the lingonberry flower droops during the flowering period.

The pollen in the anthers is represented by a dense mass, which gradually looses and begins to pour out in parts through the holes located at the ends of the anthers. In the process of flowering, bees fly to the lingonberry flowers, collecting nectar and partly pollen. A pleasant, delicate aroma is heard during flowering.

When the flowers are pollinated, it is time for the fruits to ripen, which become the decoration of the bush. This is because the color of the berries is red, which sharply distinguishes them against the background of the dark green deciduous mass. Since the flowers are collected in racemose inflorescences, bunches resembling grapes are formed from the berries. In nature, birds and animals feed on the fruits of lingonberry. And since the seeds are not digested in the stomachs, this contributes to the spread over rather considerable distances from the mother bushes.

The fruits are polyspermous berries with a shiny surface, the diameter of which reaches 8 mm. The dried calyx of the flower remains on the berries. The taste of lingonberry fruits is sweet and sour. The shape of the seeds inside is slightly crescent. Their color is reddish brown. Ripening begins in late summer or September. However, after the very first frosts, their transportability decreases, since the lingonberry berries acquire wateriness and softness. Such fruits can remain on the shoots all winter until the very spring days, then they fall from any even light touch. Fruiting begins in lingonberries from the age of three.

It is curious that if you grow such a plant in a garden, then its lifespan can be three centuries. At the same time, old bushes will die off very soon.

Agricultural technology for growing lingonberries in the open field, planting and care

Lingonberry bush
Lingonberry bush
  1. Landing place berry shrub should be well lit by sunlight and dry. Therefore, it is not necessary to place the plant in lowlands or near the occurrence of groundwater. They try to choose the surface where the bushes are planted equally. When planted in partial shade, although the plant will not die, there will be no fruiting.
  2. Soil for lingonberry you should pick up loose and with a very acidic reaction. As experiments in cultivation show, it is better that the acidity indicators are in the range of PH 3, 5-5, 5. The main thing is that the soil is not heavy and moist, since if the roots become waterlogged or they lack oxygen, the root system will begin gradually wither away. If the soil on the site is sandy, these are the best conditions for growing lingonberries. Otherwise, it is recommended to add peat chips, sawdust, needles and river coarse sand in equal proportions to the dug soil. The prepared bed must be filled with acidified water. To do this, dissolve 200 grams of apple cider vinegar in 10 liters of water, which is poured over 1 m2, or 3 liters of water with 100 grams of citric acid dissolved in it goes to the same area.
  3. Planting lingonberries can be held in spring or autumn. For planting, 2-3 year old seedlings are used. In this case, about 25-30 cm should be left between the plants, and the row spacing should be kept 30-40 cm. After planting, watering and mulching of the soil is necessary with a not too thick layer of sawdust or needles, you can take sand or tree bark.
  4. Watering when growing lingonberries, it must be drip or irrigated twice a week. It is important to remember that the plant does not tolerate waterlogged soil at all, but drying is also unacceptable, especially when the berries are ripening. Over time, the acid from the soil under the influence of water begins to wash out, and therefore, it is recommended to acidify it every 20 days.
  5. Pruning when caring for lingonberries, it is carried out for anti-aging purposes, usually for 7 years of shrub growth. To do this, leave only 4 cm of the shoot from the surface of the hemp. After a year, fruits will begin to appear on it. It is important to carry out pruning before sap flow begins, namely in the first days of spring or already in late fall, when the crop is harvested.
  6. Wintering when caring for lingonberries, it will not cause difficulties for the gardener, since the plant comes from the northern regions. Therefore, its resistance to frost is noted and even snowless winters will not be terrible. Returning spring frosts, which can occur during the flowering period, only become a problem. To play it safe, it is recommended to cover the lingonberry bushes with non-woven material, for example, spunbond, at night on such days.
  7. Fertilizers when growing lingonberries are practically not used, since nature itself took care of this. This is because the roots of the plant are braided with fungal mycelium, the threads of which pull soil solutions filled with minerals from the soil and redirect them to the roots. If artificially applied fertilizing, it can even harm the berry bushes. Therefore, if such drugs are used, then they are used in a timely manner and with great care. In no case, when caring for lingonberries, chlorine fertilizers are not used, as this will lead to its inevitable death. This time is the build-up of the deciduous mass of lingonberry and its shoots, during the first couple of years of life. Then you should use nitrogen agents (for example, nitroammofosk) in a very low concentration. Or, when the age of the lingonberry bushes reaches five years, fertilize the soil with complex dressings (for example, Kemir) to enrich the soil.
  8. Collecting lingonberries. Since the plant contains a large amount of nutrients in itself, you can collect not only berries, but also foliage. Only early spring is suitable for harvesting foliage, when the snow cover has not yet melted before the buds appear. But also the leaves can be harvested in the middle of autumn. If you break this rule and collect the deciduous mass in the summer, then during drying it will turn black and it will not be possible to use it for medical purposes. Leaves need to be plucked from the shoots without breaking them, so as not to injure the plant. Secondary collection of lingonberry leaves can be performed only after 5-10 years, when the bush is fully restored. Before drying the foliage, take away any broken or black plates. Drying is carried out on a clean cloth in a dark and warm room with good ventilation. The layer with which the leaves are laid should not be thick, otherwise they will dry out. Lingonberry berries are harvested from the last week of July before the start of frost, but this time directly depends on the type of plant that is grown on the site and climatic conditions. The harvested crop can be either dried or frozen, or used to make jam or fruit drinks, often the fruits are wet.
  9. The use of lingonberry in landscape design. If the soil is sandy on the site, then these bushes will feel great and will also serve as a year-round decoration for the garden. Such bushes will look great as a ground cover in rockeries and alpine slides. Since the foliage of this berry plant remains evergreen, it is possible to arrange paths with it or plant it near the entrance to the premises, especially for tall varieties. If you want to create a corner in the garden, decorated in a natural style, then the best neighbors for such bushes are blueberries or dwarf conifers.

See also tips for growing butcher's and home care.

Lingonberry breeding methods

Lingonberry in the ground
Lingonberry in the ground

To grow young bushes of this berry plant, it is recommended to use the seed or vegetative method (cuttings, root cuttings or dividing the bush).

Lingonberry propagation using seeds

Usually, if the plant grows in natural conditions, then the shoots can be seen next to the mother specimen in the last week of June or at the beginning of July. Before sowing, it is recommended to stratify the seed; for this, the seeds should be placed on the lower shelf of the refrigerator, where the heat is 0-5 degrees. The duration of such a stratification will be 4 months.

For sowing, soil with very high acidity (pH 3, 5–4, 5) is poured into the seedling box. An ideal soil mixture for germinating lingonberry seeds will be finely chopped sphagnum moss or litter peat. The optimum temperature for germination should be between 15-20 degrees Celsius. After a couple of weeks of leaving, you can see the first sprouts of lingonberry.

To stimulate germination, an acidic environment is often created artificially, for example, by irrigating the soil with acidified water. If the acidity of the substrate is pH = 4, 5, then this will be a guarantee of increased germination.

After the lingonberry seedlings grow up and get stronger, they are transplanted into a school (growing bed), where they are looked after for a three-year period. Only after this period is it possible to transplant to a permanent place in the garden.

However, such recommendations are suitable for planting a wild "relative", cultivated plants can be propagated using the vegetative methods described below.

Lingonberry propagation by dividing the bush

This method makes it possible to get fruits already two years after planting. So part of the shoots is separated from the mother bush, capturing a little root system. It is recommended to sprinkle all sections with charcoal powder, if there is none, you can use activated pharmacy charcoal. You need to plant the delenki right there on a prepared place in the garden and, which is typical, such bushes will begin to bear fruit the next year.

Lingonberry propagation by cuttings

For this, blanks are cut from both green and lignified shoots. From the first half of May, until the vegetative activity of the shoots begins, cuttings are cut from annual branches. The length of such blanks should be 6-7 cm. Planting is carried out on a bed under a film or in a greenhouse, the soil is preferably fertilized. For example, a mixture of peat chips and river sand in a 3: 1 ratio. The planting depth should not exceed 4–5 cm, while only the ends up to 2–3 cm long should be left above the substrate surface.

For better rooting, cuts of lingonberry cuttings should be treated with any rooting stimulator before planting so that they release the roots faster. After planting, the cuttings should be sprayed with warm water 3-4 times a day so that they develop in high humidity conditions. If you adhere to such conditions, then, as practice shows, up to 80% of planted cuttings take root.

Only when the cuttings of the lingonberry root well enough are they transplanted to the school for growing, or they are not touched from the place until next spring.

Lingonberry propagation by root cuttings

You can also propagate this berry shrub by planting pieces of rhizomes on which there are already buds or shoots of shoots. The best time will be the last week of April or early May. Planting is carried out in open ground or a peat-sand mixture is used. Regular watering is recommended for such seedlings. Weeding and loosening of the soil will also be needed. Usually, if the care requirements are not violated, then about 60% of the planted sections take root. After rooting is completed, the seedlings should be given two years to grow and only after that they are transplanted to a permanent place of growth.

Disease and pest control when growing lingonberries in the garden

Lingonberry leaves
Lingonberry leaves

This shrub with incredibly healthy berries can suffer from the following diseases, triggered by high soil moisture and are of fungal origin:

  1. Sclerotinia, in which shrinking and mummification of lingonberry fruits occurs. At the same time, it is recommended that three times (with a break a week) be applied with fungicides (Bordeaux liquid or Topsin) after the entire unaffected crop has been harvested. For preventive purposes, in early March (before the buds swell), bushes that have a growth disorder should be dug up and burned, after which it is required to mulch the soil under healthy plants with a layer of 1.5 cm with river sand, peat and sawdust.
  2. Mycospereliosis, manifested by the formation of spots on the leaves of a dirty red color, while the foliage is deformed, and its size grows. It is recommended to perform treatment with Fundazol or Topsin. The same funds will be needed in case of illness. moniliosis.
  3. Exobasidiosis expressed by the fact that the lingonberry foliage becomes white or pinkish. Here spraying with Bordeaux liquid is needed, which is also used when it appears rust (the symptoms are a bit similar).
  4. Melampsor, a disease in which the leaf plates are so reduced that they take the form of scales, and the shoots are greatly lengthened. Treatment is treatment 2-3 times with fungicides. Before the buds are formed, it can be performed as a prophylaxis for spraying with vitriol.

In general, before the buds swell on the lingonberry bushes, treatment with Azophos should be carried out, which prevents fungal diseases, and not wait for them to manifest themselves. The first spraying is carried out before flowering, the second is when the bud formation process is nearing completion, and after 7-14 days, a third spraying is carried out to completely guarantee the elimination of problems associated with fungal infections, after 1-2 weeks, the last 4th spraying is done.

Also, lingonberry plantations can suffer from the following garden pests:

  1. Yellow-brown butterfly, whose wingspan reaches 18-22 cm. It is this that gives rise to caterpillars-leaf rollers of gray-green or yellow-green color, causing damage not only to lingonberry bushes, but also to other garden plants, damaging the buds. To fight, you should use insecticides (for example, Decis, Karate and the like), spraying them in early May. At the same time, the plantings are sprayed with Medex (diluting 100 grams of the product in a 10 liter bucket of non-chlorinated water), Bordeaux liquid and Horus (of which 4 grams are used in the same volume of water), as well as Skor (the concentration is the same). Spraying with such preparations will protect lingonberries from gray mold.
  2. Aphid, winged or wingless manifests itself by sucking nutrient juices from the plant and can be a carrier of viral diseases for which there is no cure. A sign of the appearance of a pest is twisted leaves, the formation of a pad (sticky plaque), and the cessation of shoot growth. To destroy aphids, spraying should be carried out in early spring with Rogor and Aktellik. You can also plant beds with dill, garlic, carrots and coriander next to berry bushes, the aroma of these plants will repel this pest.
  3. Shield, also feeds on lingonberry cell juice. A sign of its appearance is the formation of a dark spot on the foliage of plants. For treatment, drugs such as Aktara, Mospilan, Karbofos and Tanrek are used.
  4. Other insects, such as suckers, leaf beetles, which fight with the aforementioned chemicals or infusions based on onion peels, tobacco, garlic gruel and other odorous plants.
  5. Vole mice, undermining the root system when laying passages, as well as thoroughly harming bumblebees (earth bees) that fly to pollinate the bushes. The usual mouse poison will help here, and high-quality plowing of the soil around the lingonberry plantations.

See also pest and disease control methods for growing pernettia.

Curious notes about lingonberries

Flowering lingonberry
Flowering lingonberry

For the first time, attempts were made to grow the bushes of this berry plant in 1745, by order of Empress Elizabeth Petrovna (1709-1762). It was required to find methods for starting the cultivation of lingonberries near St. Petersburg. But only in the second half of the last century, due to an increase in the level of mechanization, it became possible to plant massively plantations from lingonberry plantations in Russia and Germany, in Finland, Sweden and Holland, in Belarus and Poland and even in the USA. Harvesting on such plantations through the use of mechanization increases by 20-30 times when compared with natural plantations of berry bushes.

In Russian literature, the first mentions of lingonberry date back to the 16th century, namely in the writings of Yuri the Blessed there is information that the plant causes irreparable harm to the body of a young man. Until the beginning of the 20th century on the territory of Russia this lingonberry fruit was called "Molodor Yagoda".

A thin and creeping rhizome of a lingonberry plant under the surface of the soil stretches for several meters and only then it seems to "emerge" from the soil, becoming a source of formation of new shoots that form a bush.

The use of lingonberry

Lingonberry berries
Lingonberry berries

The most valuable thing for this plant is, of course, berries. Scientists have found in them not only vitamins A, C and E, but also organic acids, tannins, pectin and carotene. Since berries contain up to 15% sugar, this makes lingonberries even sweeter than cranberries. In addition, the presence of benzoic acid allows the berries to be preserved during conservation, even without special processing.

For a long time, people have noticed the healing properties of lingonberry berries, which are not only tasty, but also help strengthen the immune system, as they are enriched with vitamins and microelements. At the same time, sugar in lingonberry fruits contains up to 10%, organic acids up to 2%, which also includes malic and citric, oxalic and acetic, as well as glyoxylic, pyruvic and hydroxypyruvic, β-ketoglutaric.

But the lingonberry foliage is also characterized by useful properties, on its basis decoctions are prepared that help with arthritis or in the treatment of urolithiasis, often this drug is used because of the astringent, diuretic and disinfecting effect. This is because the leaves contain such acids as gallic and ellagic, as well as cinchona, tartaric and ursolic.

At the same time, the hardwood mass is filled with arbutin in 9% concentration, which is an antiseptic of the urinary tract. Usually, for disorders of the urinary system, it is customary to use an extract from dried leaves. However, exceeding the dosage of this substance can cause poisoning. The seeds contained in lingonberry fruits are saturated with up to 30% fatty oils, which are composed of glycerides and acids (linoleic and linolenic).

Lingonberry fruits have also been used in cooking, on their basis they prepare delicious jams, preserves and fruit drinks, as well as sauces for meat dishes. Frozen berries work well as a filling for baking.

The time for harvesting lingonberry shoots is spring, before the time of flowering comes and the buds are still green, the autumn period is also suitable, when the berries are fully ripe.

In addition, it has been noticed that parts of the lingonberry bush can help with the following diseases:

  1. If you use fresh fruits, then they can act as a laxative or bactericidal agent, used as an antiseptic and diuretic, and also have a pronounced anthelmintic and choleretic effect, helps with vitamin deficiency.
  2. It is customary to treat rheumatism and gout with a decoction of lingonberry foliage (it tends to remove salts and stones from the body), diabetes and kidney diseases.
  3. Lingonberry berries help with stomach catarrh with insufficient acidity, treat pulmonary tuberculosis, kidney stones and can act as an antihelminthic drug.
  4. In case of fever, the patient was given a decoction of berries to quench his thirst.
  5. With juice or fruit drink based on lingonberry berries, they relieved high blood pressure, helped such drinks with a hangover syndrome and relieved neuroses, and are also recommended for eliminating anemia in pregnant women.

However, with all this, lingonberry also has harmful properties, since it is a natural accumulator of radioactive substances. Therefore, you should not eat berries from plants growing near highways or railways, cemeteries or factory (industrial) complexes. You should not even use lingonberry berries collected in ecologically clean regions for people suffering from:

  • increased secretory function of the stomach (ulcers);
  • hypotensive (those with too low blood pressure), since the fetus has a pressure-lowering effect.

Lingonberry varieties

Lingonberry growing
Lingonberry growing

Usually, cultivated hybrids of varietal lingonberry bushes are used for growing in personal plots. This is because, thanks to the efforts of breeders, such plants are an order of magnitude superior to wild plantings in fruit size, taste and yield. The best and most popular varieties are:

  1. Runo Bielawskie. The variety appeared thanks to breeders from Poland. It is characterized by the large size of the berries, the weight of which reaches 0.35 grams. The bush has a compact outline, the crown is spherical, about 20 cm in diameter. Fruiting is early, usually in the last weeks of summer. Considers self-fertile.
  2. Coral (Koralle) is not only a fruitful, but also an ornamental variety. The size of the fruits of this variety of lingonberries is average, the yield when grown in our latitudes occurs twice per season. Harvest 1st - at the end of July or until mid-August, 2nd - at the end of September, characterized by greater abundance. The crown of the bush is spherical, but compact, reaching 30 cm in diameter.
  3. Ernlesegen bred by breeders from Germany. The bush reaches a height of 40 cm, which is its distinctive feature. The diameter of ripe fruits is measured in 1, 4 cm. This variety is most often used in landscaping gardens than for growing crops.
  4. Erntekrone - a variety also of German origin. The bushes are characterized by short stature, their height is no more than 20 cm. The crop is obtained twice per season. Fruits with very high palatability, but there is a slight bitterness.
  5. Red Pearl was bred by breeders from Holland. This variety of lingonberry is characterized by a double harvest per season, while the plant is quite decorative. The diameter of ripe fruits reaches 1, 2 cm. The stems reach a height of 30 cm.

For industrial needs, the following Russian varieties should be used:

  • Kostromichka - lingonberry bushes are quite low, not exceeding the height of 15 cm. Fruiting is average. The fruits ripen fully in August. The variety is self-fertile and quite fruitful.
  • Ruby recognized as a late-ripening variety of lingonberry, yielding a harvest at the end of summer. For pollination, it is recommended to plant several bushes nearby. The stems of the bushes are stretched 20 cm in height. Usually in landscape design it is used as a ground cover.

Related article: Planting and caring for bearberry in the open field.

Video about the cultivation of lingonberries in open ground and its application:

Photos of lingonberry:

Lingonberry Photos 1
Lingonberry Photos 1
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Lingonberry Photos 2
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Lingonberry Photos 3
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Lingonberry Photos 4
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Lingonberry Photos 5

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