Partridgeberry is a low-growing, creeping, and woody herb that is evergreen, perennial, part of the Rubiaceae family. From Newfoundland down to central Florida and west to eastern Texas, partridgeberry can be found all across the eastern United States. It naturally occurs in woodland settings, primarily on sand slopes along creek or river banks. However, it can also be found in forests, rotting logs, stream banks, bottomlands, coniferous and mixed woods with dappled shade.
Quick Growing Guide
Botanical Name: Mitchella repens
Botanical Family: Rubiaceae
En français: Mitchella rampant
Water: Need constant moisture
Partridgeberry remains still, lying on the ground. It spreads outward on creeping stems that are only about 6 to 12 inches long, barely reaches a height of 1/4 inch, and has no climbing ability. It has glossy, dark green, evergreen foliage with a light yellow midrib. The short petioles that support the half-inch, oblong to heart-shaped leaves are borne opposingly along the stems.
Partridgeberry can be propagated by splitting off mature clumps. Ask for a few stems if you are aware of a native stand or have a friend who does. New cuttings can establish themselves quickly because of adventitious roots at each leaf node.
Though it is uncommon, it is possible to grow a new plant from seeds. At roughly 40°F, berries need to stratify. The ideal location is in a refrigerator. After a three-month stratification, remove the pulp from the seeds and plant them in wet sand. When seedlings are big enough to handle, pot them up. The next spring, include them in your landscaping.
Where to Plant
An evergreen ground cover that displays interesting foliage, flowers, and fruit. Plant partridgeberry in woodland/shade gardens, under trees, and in part-shade areas of border fronts and rock gardens. It is also effective around small ponds. Many gardeners believe this ground cover is not appropriately aggressive for large areas and is best grown in smaller sites.
You can grow partridgeberries in the spring or the fall. Check to see if the risk of frost has passed before planting in the spring. If planting in the fall, start planting early to give the roots time to develop before the first frost. The ideal soil environment consists of mineral, well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter and has a pH of 5.0.
Plant with a root system just below the soil’s surface in the middle of a raised bed. Plants should be spaced 12 inches apart within each row, and raised beds should be spaced roughly 30 inches apart. High-yielding cultivars of partridgeberries must be planted beside a pollinizer cultivar to succeed. For every ten high-yielding cultivars planted, it is advised to plant one pollinizer cultivar.
You must use a location with humus-rich, well-draining soil. Sandy, neutrally pH-balanced soil is preferred by the vine. Choose a location for the vines that receive early sun yet afternoon shade.
The best advice for cultivating native plants in a garden setting is to resemble their original habitat as closely as possible. The majority of the time, these standards allow for some flexibility. For instance, partridgeberry isn’t picky about pH in the garden despite growing on acidic soils in the wild. Even among limestone rocks, it can flourish.
It is advised to use ammonium-based nitrogen fertilizers, such as urea or ammonium sulfate. Reduced yields and dieback might result from using too much fertilizer. Apply a tiny handful (five grams) of a complete fertilizer, such as 5-10-10, at the base of each plant throughout the first through fifth years. Ten grams of 5-10-10 should be applied to each plant annually after the fifth year.
The first five years are not the best time for pruning. Plants should be mowed to a height of two inches after five years. Alternating rows of mowing every three to six years will promote vigorous, unbranched growth and increase the number of fruiting stems by boosting shoot density.
Commonly utilized as a decorative ground cover is this native plant. It hugs the ground so tightly that mowing has little effect on it as a groundcover since it tolerates little foot traffic.
The fruit can be gathered and occasionally turned into jam. It serves as a source of food for game birds such as partridges, ruffed grouse, turkeys, and others. Many insects and small creatures live beneath and within the tree’s tangled branches, and small animals like skunks and white-footed mice fight over the berries.
Partridgeberry is a type of herb. Medicine is made from the stem and leaves. Partridgeberry is used to treat menstrual cramps, childbirth, sore nipples, and other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support any of these claims. Taking partridgeberry by mouth is also risky.