thimbleberry plant

Thimbleberry Growing And Care Guide

Although the Thimbleberry is beneficial for wildlife, are they also edible to people? Yes. They used to be a staple diet for the local native populations. So if berries are on your mind, consider growing thimbleberry. This native plant is a thornless shrub with deciduous leaves. It grows untamed in disturbed areas, among hills covered with trees, and close to streams. One of the first plants to grow back after a fire is this one. Being a native plant, it is simple to grow and extremely versatile in its area.

What is a Thimbleberry?

thimbleberry flower

Native to the Pacific Northwest, thimbleberries are a vital source of food for tiny mammals and birds. From Alaska to California and into northern Mexico, it can be found. Growing thimbleberries can be a component of a native garden and offers important habitat and food for wildlife. The common thimbleberry bears vividly colored, delicious berries that rip away from the plant, leaving the torus or core behind.

They resemble thimbles, hence the name. The fruits are drupes, which are clusters of druplets rather than berries. Because the fruit tends to fall apart, it does not pack well and is not grown. However, despite being a little acidic and seedy, it is palatable. It tastes great with jam. Numerous animals also like to browse shrubs. Native Americans dried the fruit for winter use and consumed it fresh during the season. The leaves were used fresh as a poultice and the bark was also processed into a herbal tea.

Here are some brief facts about this plant:

  • Latin name: Rubus parviflorus
  • Other names: Thimbleberry
  • Native to: North America
  • Invasiveness: No
  • Tenderness: Herbaceous perennial
  • Sun: Full sun to partial shade
  • Water: Average
  • Soil: Clay, Loam, Sand
  • Hardiness zone: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
  • When to plant: Spring
  • Spacing: 3 ft
  • Plant height: 2.5 meters
  • Bloom period: Summer
  • Time to maturity: Months
  • Container friendly: Yes
  • Fertilizer: Yes
  • Toxicity: No
  • Drought tolerant: Yes
  • Deer resistant: Yes
  • Pest resistant: No

How to grow Thimbleberry


The thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus), which grows wild out from the northwest coast to the Great Lakes region, is prodigious and grows easily and quickly from seeds in a variety of soil types. Due to its bright fall foliage and alluring spring blossoms, it is frequently used as an ornamental plant. Its maintenance is comparable to that of other cane berries, such as raspberries. The tasty young shoots, tea made from the leaves, and jelly made from the sweet fruits are all available to home gardeners.

Thimbleberry thrives in any rich, medium-wet soil and is most frequently seen on the edges of lush, shaded woodlands, though it may also endure drier and less favorable environments. It is resilient to transient seasonal flooding. Full shadow will allow the thimbleberry to grow, but additional light will make the shrub lusher and enable it to produce more fruit.

Informal hedges, bird and wildlife gardens, erosion prevention on steep hills, and stream banks are all excellent applications and planting options. Thimbleberry is best produced in regions where it can colonize naturally and provide a valuable food source for songbirds, game birds, and small mammals. It is a plant that the Yellow-Banded Sphinx moth uses as a host. The blossoms of Rubus parviflorus are self-fertile, and even a single bush will bear fruit; however, two or three shrubs will bear fruit more abundantly. Keep the elder canes if a large yield is needed. The best yields, unlike other raspberries, come from canes that are 2–3 years old.

Growing Thimbleberry in containers

Select a spot in the garden that gets full light and is well-drained. Although thimbleberries may grow in little shade, full sunlight is preferable. Consider leaving the adequate room because thimbleberry plants require about 3 feet between every cane in a row. For a large area, rows need to be at least 8 feet apart. +

Each plant should receive thorough irrigation, with the soil being saturated but not becoming soggy. Do not water the leaves or stem; doing so could encourage mold growth and rot. Water only the roots. During the development of new plants and subsequent years of fruiting, keep the soil moist. During the fruit-bearing season, drip watering is advised. To maintain moisture and maintain a constant soil temperature, mulch the area around the base of each plant. Use an organic mulch, such as well-decomposed compost or grass cuttings, as the latter supplies additional nitrogen that thimbleberries need to grow.

When to start Thimbleberry seeds

In the early spring or fall, sow outside. You must scarify and freeze stratify thimbleberry seeds to simulate their natural environment.

When to plant 

Avoid thimbleberries that have been picked in the forest since infections are a major concern for wild Rubus. In the winter or the first few weeks of April, sow your thimbleberry.

How to collect Thimbleberry seeds

Cuttings, layering, or division are all viable vegetative propagation methods for thimbleberry. After a disturbance, it resprouts from the root crowns through underground rhizomes. People Who Use It: In the early spring, the locals consumed the new shoots raw. Fresh berries were combined with other berries and consumed.

Wildlife attracted by Thimbleberry

Thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus), a stunning shrub with noticeable white blooms and broad, star-shaped leaves that make a dense canopy, grows in sizable areas. The stems are free of thorns. Honeybees and other pollinators are drawn to colorful clusters of fragrant white blossoms.

Common problems

Thimbleberries may survive in USDA zone 3. Plant upkeep is minimal once they are established. It is crucial to put them in full to partial sunlight and to constantly moisten the canes. After the berry harvest, cut down fruiting canes to provide room for the new canes to receive sunlight and air. Thimbleberries may thrive in practically any soil as long as it drains correctly.

The yellow-striped sphinx moth uses the plant as a host. Aphids and crown borers can be problematic. Good thimbleberry maintenance should include fertilizing once a year. Keep an eye out for fungus-related illnesses like Botrytis, powdery mildew, leaf spot, and anthracnose.

Mayukh Saha
Freelance Writer
Mayukh is a Content Marketer and Social Media Manager with over 5 years of experience in the industry. Mayukh believes in the power of content; how it can positively impact lives, scale businesses and touch people. In his spare time Mayukh likes to read about latest tech trends and loves to travel in the nature. You can reach him at [email protected].