V. moupinense

Himalayan Blueberry


Granny Artemis bought this Himalayan Blueberry (Vaccinium moupinense, formerly V. sikangense) a couple years ago (in 2001) & it has yet to fruit for us, but has put on lovely year-round shows of evergreen leaves that shift from bright reds & oranges & burgundy to shiny green. It is most strongly red for autumn & winter, but in spring new growth is bronze to red & yellow, so there is some color here & there on the shrub for the majority of the year.

In late spring this native of western China has reddish brown bell- or urn-shaped flowers that should be followed by attractive purple-black fruits, edible by people or birds. It grows relatively slowly with a dwarf stature, generally remains in the one to two foot range of height & width, small & very compactly leafed.

It has its best leaf colors in full sun especially when grown on the coast or farther north, but will also do nicely in partial shade & will require a bit of shade grown inland. Its first year it needs very regular watering, especially if placed in a good deal of sun, but eventually develops an extensive root system & becomes surprisingly drought tolerant. It's cold-hardy to zone 5.

Ours grows in morning sun near the foot of an evergreen Escallonia. I don't quite know why it has failed to fruit, though there are similar subalpine huckleberries that barely fruit at sea level, or which need a stronger sense of changing seasons than our mellow Zone 8 weather provides it, or many blueberries fruit poorly without a cross-pollinator, or it may only be that its sunny spot has been permitted too often get dry, which has never harmed the appearance of the leaves but I suppose could stop it from setting fruiting.


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