Great Plants for Northern Gardens: Day 14, Serviceberry

amelenchier leavis flower

Flowers of Allegheny serviceberry are a sweet, spring note to the plant. (Photos courtesy of Bailey Nurseries Inc.)

Serviceberry (Amelanchier) is a very hardy Minnesota native plant that can be grown as a large shrub or a small tree. Sometimes called juneberry, this is one of the great plants for northern gardens because it requires little care, is highly adaptable and provides structure and three-season interest to the garden.

There are several types of serviceberry native to our region and some of them have been hybridized to create wonderful garden plants. Allegheny serviceberry (Amelanchier  laevis) is common in northern Minnesota. It has a narrow form and grows more than 25 feet tall. Another species serviceberry is shadblow serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis), which is generally shorter (10 to 15 feet) and wider (10 feet across) than Allegheny serviceberry. Both plants offer interesting structure and bright fall color.

Apple serviceberry (Amelanchier x grandifolia) is a popular species that includes several named varieties. These all grow 15 to 25 feet tall and can be pruned to either multi-stemmed shrubs or small trees. ‘Autumn Brilliance’ gets its name from its bright red fall foliage. Other cultivars include ‘Princess Diana’ and ‘Cole’s Select’ serviceberry.

In addition to fall color, serviceberries generally have a sweet white flower in spring and — as the name suggests — a bluish red berry in late summer through winter. The berries are edible, but they are especially prized by birds, including American goldfinches, brown thrashers and bluejays.

regent serviceberry hedge

Regent serviceberries make an attractive hedge.

If you do not have room for a full-size serviceberry, you might consider ‘Regent’ (Amelanchier alnifolia ‘Regent’), a 3 to 6 foot tall shrub with the flowers, fall color and the form of serviceberry but in a more diminutive size. These serviceberries are sometimes grown in hedges to great effect.

Serviceberry grows well in full sun to part shade sites in moist, well-drained soil. This is a popular native plant that should be available at good nurseries and garden centers throughout Minnesota.

 

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