The red chokeberry is a tall plant with striking, white flowers and red berries that add color to anyone’s gardens. This member of the Rose family of plants is a perennial shrub (identified by multiple stems whereas a tree has only one stem) that was originally native to the Chicago area, but is now designated native to the eastern half of the United States. As such it is hardy in the winter here in Chattanooga and is found all the way south to Hardiness Zone 4.
This large, hardy shrub achieves a height of approximately 10 feet tall, extends 3 to 5 feet in diameter, prefers moist soils, and can live in slightly acidic soils to alkaline soils. It is a dependable garden plant that has something to offer in three of our four seasons; spring, summer and autumn. The red chokeberry flowers in the late spring and needs pruning after the flowering to reduce the number of suckers it produces during the growing season. The leaves are arranged on the stem in an alternate pattern and are approximately 2-1/2 inches long. They are dark green in color, oval in shape, with a leaf margin that is finely toothed. During the autumn the red berries add interest to any garden.
The red chokeberry generally prefers moist soils and thus is a good garden candidate for the edges of water or rain gardens. The red chokeberry prefers full sun to partial sun.
The red chokeberry is often used as a hedge and allowed to ramble laterally. It will easily naturalize to nearly any garden area. Group or mass the red chokeberry in shrub borders or woodland areas. It has the ability to withstand wet conditions which makes it suitable for growing on the margins of ponds or streams. The red chokeberry is also effective in naturalized areas where its suckering and colonial growth habit does not need to be restrained. This is a good native plant with multi-season ornamental interest.
This plant would be good for the back of a garden area since the bases of the stems have little vegetation on them.
This plant has no disease or insect problems.
The bright red berries are eaten by several bird species in the late autumn and winter.
The common name of this plant refers to the tart and bitter berries which are technically edible but are so sour as to cause choking in those who try them.
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Planting native helps restore the natural habitat required for beautiful birds, butterflies and other insects to thrive. Plus, native plants are supposed to be here, so they're often more tolerant of neglect, poor soil, and draught.