Aronia Planting Guide – Part I – Soil PH, Soil Needs, Weed Control, and Watering
Aronia Plants Are Nature’s Super Healthy Creation
Aronia is a true Native American plant that is widely grown in Europe for fruit production. A native plant, developing in the North America ecosystem, Aronia bushes have adapted to grow in growing zones 3 to 7. It is a perennial, deciduous, self pollinating, self-supporting shrub.
There are many advantages to growing an aronia plant on your property. It is a very ornamental and resilient plant. It is adapted to the natural ecosystem; it is better able to withstand invasions from insects and diseases as well as the natural variations in the climate than non native plants. Native aronia plants require little care once established on your property. The flowers are self pollinating (apomictic), thus only one plant is needed to produce fruit. Full of antioxidants, Aronia produces one of the healthiest berries on the planet. The Viking and Nero varieties are heavy fruit producers and can be a major source of income for a small farm.
– Aronia does best in full sun but will also grow in shade
Aronia plants do best in a slightly acidic soil with an optimum pH range of 6.1 to 6.5. They however will grow in acidic, neutral, or alkaline soil with a pH range from 5.3 to 7.8. Some report the optimum pH range is 6 to 7. A pH of 7 is neutral and higher is alkaline and lower is acidic. Blueberries in comparison require a well-drained soil with a pH of 4.5 to 5.2.
Soil needs and weed control
– Have a soil sample from your field analyzed by your county agent if there is any doubt about your soil conditions and amend soil as needed. Aronia will grow in many types of soil, Sandy, clay, loamy.
A well prepared soil before starting the plantation is a basic requirement and will have an impact on fruit production and the beginning of fruiting. For poor soil adding organic material such as manure is recommended before planting aronia plants.
The planting area must first be cleared from weeds. This will make the cultivation of the young plants easier in the first years because young aronia plants are sensitive to weeding to a high degree. Another alternative is to use landscaping cloth or layers of newspaper to control weed growth during the first 3 or 4 years of plant development. Consider using permeable landscape cloth to control weeds if too much labor is required to control weeds otherwise. Weeds are one of the major factors in reducing farm productivity. At blueberry Croft farm and nursery landscaping cloth is used to help control the weed problem. The landscaping cloth or news papers need to be covered with mulch to a depth of about 2 to 4 inches. Landscaping cloth prevents the growth of most weeds (although some grasses will grow through them) and they will allow normal water and oxygen exchange. Use a coarse-textured mulch material to cover the landscape fabric. At 4 to 5 years of age, aronia will have developed a good root system and several additional new canes because of its suckering nature making it strong enough to choke weeds out and you then only need to mow in the rows between the plants. It has a tap-root which helps it be somewhat drought tolerant once it is established.
When practical, especially when precipitation levels are low or availability of water is limited, you should use water-efficient drip irrigation or soaker hoses. Water plants once or twice a week to keep soil moist, not wet if there is not enough rain. Be ready to water during extended periods of hot sunny, windy, dry spells. To help roots develop allow soil to dry moderately several inches deep before irrigating.
The soil needs to be kept moist, particularly during the very first two years after the plant is planted. Use a thick mulch of leaves or other compost following planting to assist retaining moisture and suppress weeds. Aronia will take about 5 years to attain full productivity but should start producing some berries the third year.
– Keep them watered especially while the plants are first getting established. Newly planted aronia must have adequate soil moisture until their roots are established.
Lack of water for plants producing fruit is one of the most significant factors in reduced fruit yield and berry size. Aronia plants can tolerate over saturation more effectively than other plants.
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