Known by many names including Juneberry and shadbush, serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.) trees are grown for their year-long ornamental interest provided by their flowers, leaves and berries. They work well used in wildlife gardens. Serviceberries can vary in size depending on the species, and these U.S. and Canadian natives belong to the Rosaceae family.
In early spring, serviceberries put on a dazzling display of 2- to 4-inch-long white flowers. Unfortunately, the flowers often don't last longer than one week. After the flowers come clusters of berries. The berries mature from green and yellow to red, purple and black, and tend to reach maturity in June, hence the name Juneberry. In the fall, serviceberries are enjoyed for their impressive foliage, which ranges from yellow to orange and red.
Height and Growth
In the wild, serviceberries can grow up to 40 feet tall. It generally takes the trees five to 10 years to reach a height of 9 to 10 feet. In urban settings they're usually maintained as shrubs or small trees. For compact ornamental interest, running serviceberry (Amelanchier stolonifera), which grows up to 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide and is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 7, is ideal. For a more lavish display that reaches a height of 15 feet and a width of 10 feet, shadblow serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis), hardy in USDA plant hardiness zones 4 through 7, or downy serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea), hardy in USDA plant hardiness zones 5 through 8, can do the trick.
Most serviceberries are hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 9, although varieties, such as regent serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia "Regent"), are cold-tolerant to USDA plant hardiness zone 2. The trees are mainly propagated by stem cuttings or seeds and won't thrive in waterlogged, wet soil. Growing them in full sunlight to full shade in well-drained, slightly acidic soil is ideal. Aside from powdery mildew, the trees aren't commonly plagued with diseases or pests.
Caring for Serviceberries
When growing a serviceberry, water it deeply immediately after planting and about twice a week after this so the soil stays consistently moist. Adjust your watering after rainfall or during hot, dry weather. During the first three years, use sterile pruning shears and remove only damaged, weak branches in winter or early spring. After three years, prune one-third of the old growth annually to promote fruit production. Also, every spring when new growth starts, apply 4 ounces of an 16-16-16 fertilizer.
Serviceberries can have various functions in the garden. You can grow them as individual, ornamental specimens, blend them into a shrub border or group some of the smaller varieties to grow into a hedge. The berries, which taste similar to blueberries (Vaccinium spp.) and hardy in USDA zones 4 through 8, can be incorporated into pies, muffins, jams and puddings, or used as the finishing touch on ice cream or pancakes.