General description: The Zojka Kamchatka honeysuckle is a Polish variety created by Zofia Łukaszewska. The bush grows up to about 1.5 m high and about 1.5 m wide, and when it blooms, it’s bestrewn with small flowers. The Kamchatka honeysuckle is known the world over under many names, such as the sweetberry honeysuckle, fly honeysuckle, blue-berried honeysuckle, Haskap berry or simply the honeyberry – all these names represent this amazing plant of extraordinary properties. The Kamchatka honeysuckle’s popularity grows day by day, largely owing to the rise of health food trends. Kamchatka honeysuckles yield delectable and very healthy fruit, therefore it is worth seriously considering cultivating them in one’s own garden, especially since it’s easy to do so.
Flowers: Zojka flowers are quite inconspicuous, pale yellow, and resistant to spring frosts. It’s a cross-pollinating shrub, which means that to gain the highest possible fruit yield, it needs to be planted in the near vicinity of other Kamchatka honeysuckles. Zojka is a perfect pollinator for the Jolanta and Wojtek varieties.
Blooming: Zojka blooms in April.
Leaves: This shrub's leaves are oval, green with a slightly bluish underside. Fresh foliage is slightly tomentose (fuzzy).
Fruit: Zojka berries are smaller than the fruit of the Wojtek variety, and weigh up to 1.3 g each. They are dark blue in colour with a lighter, waxy coating. The berries are juicy and very sweet and the riper the berry, the sweeter it is. Kamchatka honeysuckle berries are rich in healthful nutrients, such as pectins, organic acids, vitamin C and sugars. Moreover, pigments contained in the fruit have remarkable properties of strengthening blood vessels and removing heavy metals and other toxins from the body.
Ripening: The Zojka variety starts to fruit near the end of May and the beginning of June. It can bear fruit as early as a year after planting. In the second and third year the plant can produce from 0.5 to 1 kg of berries from a single shrub. This variety may provide as much as 4 kg of fruit from just one shrub and Kamchatka honeysuckles bear fruit for up to 30 years. This variety is suitable for both manual and mechanical harvesting.
Cultivation requirements: Kamchatka honeysuckles are easy to cultivate. They tolerate sandy and dry soils, although they grow best in slightly acidic, moderately moist, sandy loam soils, preferably in sunny locations.
Pruning: During the first five years after planting Kamchatka honeysuckles need absolutely no pruning. The first thinning out to remove old shoots is to be done after about five years (depending on whether the shrub needs this). Thanks to such pruning, the fresh new shoots will gain access to more light and we gain the possibility of shaping the shrub to our liking. Pruning should be done before blooming or after fruiting, once the berries have been picked.
Overwintering: The Zojka Kamchatka honeysuckle is particularly frost resistant. It does not freeze in temperatures as low as -45°C and its flowers withstand -8°C. At the beginning of November, young shrubs should be covered in soil with peat so that a mound of about 30 cm in height is formed over the plant.