A photography of Phelan Gardens greenhouse and storefront in Colorado Springs Colorado

Small Fruits

Small Fruits... Sweet Rewards!

There are many fruits that can be grown successfully in the Colorado Springs area. They range from annual vines to more hardy perennial plants and shrubs. Small in size, the plants highlighted below will fit into the typical home garden. Good news for those of you who don't have room for a fruit tree! Some small fruits, such as blueberries, chokeberries, and serviceberries are also good ornamental landscape plants. They provide flowers, fruit and fall color.

Most small fruits will enjoy a sunny spot and a balanced fertilizer applied in Spring. (See special instructions for blueberries which require acid soil).

As with fruit trees, you may have to use a barrier to keep birds and squirrels from foraging your fruit. We carry special netting to help put a barrier between wildlife and your crop. For insects, use diatomaceous earth spread at the base of your plant to control crawling pests  You must re-apply after rain.

** Please Note:  In stock availability of specific varieties listed below will vary depending upon time of season and sales. Please visit us to view current varieties. **


Blueberry (Vaccinium)

Bears mid-July to August; Requires acidic soil achieved by planting in a medium that is primarily Canadian sphagnum peat moss (which naturally has a pH of 5.5). In subsequent years, use a balanced fertilizer for acid loving plants in late May. Grow in well-drained, consistently moist soil. Large containers above ground or buried in ground work well because they allow you to control soil pH. (Colorado soils are naturally alkaline).

Blueberries are grouped as either highbush or lowbush types.  Highbush can get tall (6'-8') and have larger berries.  Lowbush tend to be 2' or under with smaller sweeter berries. And newer hybrids are sometimes a cross of the best qualities of both.

Note: Blueberries are a bit of a challenge to grow well here because they can be prone to cracking in our climate. This is not due to cold (all are hardy to at least Zone 4). The problem is due to drying wind and our fluctuating warm/cold cycles so common in spring. You can get around this by covering your shrub with frost cloth or burlap during winter and early spring. Blueberries are self-fruitful. But, you will have a higher yield if you plant two different varieties.

* Many blueberries offer the bonus of BEAUTIFUL fall color.  Check out the show this Chippewa blueberry puts on in October!

Blueberry Varieties:

Bluecrop: Size: 4'-6' H x  4'-6' W. Zone 4. High quality, good disease resistance
Burgundy: Small Size: 1' x 1'. Zone 2. Burgundy new growth & fall color, small light blue berries.
Size: 3'H x 3'W. Zone 3. Large, dark blue sweet fruit. Shrub has an upright habit.

Size: 2'-3''H x 2'-3''W. Zone 3. Red fall foliage.

Size: 2'H x 3'W. Zone 3. 1/2" SWEET fruit is sky blue. A more compact sized shrub than most
Northland: 5'-6' H x 5'-6' W. Zone 4.  A productive mid-season crop. Excellent fall color.
Patriot: Size: 3’-5’ high and wide. Zone 3.  Large sweet berries. Bred for short season and winter hardiness.


Baby Cakes: Compact, upright, and thornless and hardier than other types. 3'-4' high and wide. Large sweet berries. Zone 4.

Black Satin: a thornless variety that produces large firm, slightly tart fruit. Bears in late July or early August. Grow in full to part sun. Be sure to mulch to protect in winter (zone 5 plant)

Triple Crown: blackberry canes are thornless with jumbo size, sweet berries. Harvest lasts for about a month in summer with consistent yields each year. Grow in full to part sun. Mulch to protect in winter (Zone 5)

Black Chokeberry (Aronia)

This 3-6' shrub bears small pea-size fruit. It ripens in early fall and although is quite sour to eat fresh, it makes great jellies. This shrub is a GREAT low maintenance ornamental too! Produces white flowers in late May and offers good fall color in red tones. It isn't fussy about soil and can grow in both sun and part-sun locations. It will attract both birds and butterflies. Drought tolerant but will also tolerate moist soil.

Currant (Ribes)

Currants are tolerant of a a variety of soils and make great jams and jellies. They are self-fruitful and pollinated by wind and insects. They are a bird magnet! Drought tolerant.


Black Currant ‘Consort’ (R. nigrum):White spring flowers and red fall foliage. Heavy producer of medium sweet-tart, black fruit in early to mid-summer. Self-fruitful; produces best on 1-3 year old wood. Excellent for jams and jellies. Very hardy. 4'-6'H x 4' W. Prefers moist, well-drained soil. Zone 3.

Red Lake: A vigorous 5–6' shrub that bears large quantities of bright red berries near the beginning of August.

American Elderberries (Sambucus Canadensis)

American elderberries tend to be sweeter than their European counterparts.  Clustered creamy flowers put on a BEAUTIFUL show in early summer, followed by the fruit. If you use the berries, they should always be ripe and COOKED before consuming.  Other parts of this plant are not edible.  These shrubs are a nice ornamental.  They can get 8'-10' high and wide.  American elderberries should be paired with more than one variety for cross pollination to increase yields.  They are used for pies, jams, jellies and also medicinally for their antiviral qualities.  Note: Elderberries are deer resistant but are NOT pet friendly.


Bob Gordon: The new cultivar Bob Gordon has a larger berry and yielded nearly triple that of Adams. Inverts head upside down which protects berries from birds. Bob Gordon was the number one producer in trials. This plant is sought out by winemakers for its higher brix.  Zone 4.
Ranch: This hardy plant seems to be most tolerant of harsh conditions--wide temperature swings and drought. The stockiness-- 5'-6' mature size-- provides a lower fruiting canopy for easier harvest. Tends to grow upright and is not bushy. Grows well on less fertile soils. Zone 3.
WyldeWood: A vigorous producer with flower clusters that can reach 12" across.  Tends toward having three umbels on each stem. Its unique processing properties and high yields make it popular. 5'-8' high and wide at maturity. Zone 3.

Gooseberry (Ribes)

This 3-4' shrub produces fruit that ripens in August. It is best used for pies, jams and jellies. It tolerates a variety of soils and can be grown in both full sun and part sun locations. Drought and moisture tolerant, it is another shrub that is a bird magnet.


Hinnonmaki Red: Upright form with a mass of large, juicy, tart, deep red berries in summer. Outstanding flavor for jams and pies. Prefers a moist, well-drained soil. Self-fertile but better yields when planted near currants. Hardy and resistant to mildew and leaf spot.

Jahn's Prairie: Found in the wild in Canada, Jahn’s Prairie produces abundant, annual harvests of large, sweet and flavorful, reddish-pink fruit.

Pixwell: 3'-5H x 3'-4'W. An American type with better resistance to mildew.  Green berries turn pink when ripe.  Very few thorns.  Zone 3.

Grape (Vitis)

These large vines are an easy fruit to grow provided you give them annual pruning in Spring, adequate fertility and a full sun location. Pick the variety you'd like to grow based on how you will use the fruit. Will you make jams, jellies, wines or just pick grapes off the vine for fresh eating? Also, consider if you want seedless or not. Expect fruit to ripen in September. Grape vines are HEAVY when they begin to reach maturity—so give them a strong support such as a pergola, arbor, or sturdy fence. They will generally begin producing the second or third year.


Canadice: A superb, seedless, red dessert grape. Very sweet with a unique spicy flavor. Attractive and productive, ripens early and holds well on the vine.
Concord Seedless:
Seedless purple grape. (fresh, jam, jelly) Zone 5

Edelweiss: White-green grape. (dessert, wine). Zone 4
Frontenac: Blue-black grape. (wine, juice). Zone 4
Interlaken: Golden seedless grapes (fresh, dry for raisins) Zone 5.
Marquette: Red Grape. (red wine production). Zone 4
Reliance Seedless: Red Seedless Grape. (fresh, juice, jelly). Zone 5
St Theresa: a purple slipskin grape, mostly seedless. Hardy to 8,000 feet. Zone 4. Vigorous vine, good for arbor.
Swenson Red: Red, seeded grape with a high sugar content. Crisp texture. Hardy to -30 but fruits better with protection. (fresh, juice, jelly, or wine). Zone 5

Honeyberry (Lonicera)

Hardy honeyberry bushes hail from Siberia and are actually edible forms of honeysuckle. Taste is similar to blueberries, but they will grow in our alkaline soil. This makes them a great alternative for those of you that have struggled with blueberries. Use for fresh eating, baking, jams and jellies.  They are very slow growing.  They bloom very early in Spring (blooms are hardy to -7 degrees) but harder freezes could be a problem for those of you in higher elevations.  Honeyberry bushes produce very EARLY...just before strawberries in June.  Likes consistent moisture. IMPORTANT! Requires two varieties for cross pollination and berry development. Excellent source of Vitamin C and antioxidants.


Berry Blue: Size: up to 8'H x 3'W Zone 3 (Pollinate with Borealis)
Borealis: Size:
4'H x 4'W Zone 3 (Pollinate with Berry Blue)

Lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea)

Lingonberry is a cousin to blueberries. It is an ornamental groundcover bearing white flowers followed by bright red pea-sized berries in late summer or early Fall. Actual plants only get about 1'H x 2' W. Grow as you would blueberries in a peat-based, consistently moist well drained soil. Fruits are quite tart fresh but can be used in sauces, jellies, or wines. High in Vitamin C. Hardy to Zone 2.

Nanking Cherry (Prunus)

A hardy shrub that can reach 8' in height. Produces an abundance of white/pink flowers in late April, followed by small scarlet fruit in June. The fruit is sour so is best used in jams/jellies, pies, juice or wine. Leaves turn yellow in fall. Birds love this bush!

Raspberry (Rubus)

Raspberries do very well here. They will grow in full or part sun and do best in organically rich soil that is well-drained. But, site them thoughtfully! They are poky and travel via suckers. So, plant your future briar patch in an out-of-the-way spot. Fences or staking work well as you can tie the canes up to keep them off the ground.  This aids in both harvest and the health of your patch.  All types are self fruitful.

There are two main types of raspberries. Summer Bearing (aka June Bearing, floricane) raspberries produce flowers once per season and yield one crop in Summer.  Since they produce on the previous year's canes, don't cut your whole patch down during Spring clean up or you won't get raspberries the next season. Instead, cut down the canes that bore fruit last season. Consider marking them as you harvest so you can easily identify those that should be pruned. Leave the non-bearing canes standing as they will bear your next crop. Windbreaks are helpful for all raspberries during the growing season but especially for Summer Bearing types to help protect non-pruned canes from drying out.

Everbearing types (aka Fall Bearing, primocane) produce on the current season's cane toward the tips for an late Summer/early Fall crop. There are two ways to prune these.  The two crop method--where they bear a crop on the tips of the current year canes. The tips of those fruiting canes will die back, but if left unpruned, they have the potential to bear fruit lower on the cane the following Summer. Then the cane is done and should be pruned to the ground. OR, If you prefer a one crop method then it is ok to cut down all the canes to ground level in Spring. The advantage of the one crop method is that you could get fruit sooner and perhaps more of it. It also helps remove any pests that could overwinter on the canes.  Also, you won't have to keep track of which canes you should prune since they will produce on new season's growth.

No matter which type you choose, avoid letting your raspberry patch bramble into a a dense thicket.  Many diseases and problems can be avoided by tying up your plants, proper pruning, and overall yearly thinning to the leave the healthiest canes spaced approximately 6" apart.   Many sources recommend keeping the width of your overall row to 2' for ease of harvest and to help with overall health of the patch.  The patch can easily reach 3'-4' wide but becomes less productive and more difficult to harvest from the middle at that point.

You might consider growing a variety of types to extend your harvest. Here is more info from the CSU Extension.

We also carry native Boulder Raspberries that are great for wildlife.  If you would like to grow food-producing raspberries, try a variety listed below.

Summer Bearing Varieties:

Boyne: Summer Bearing Mid-season, deep red raspberries with firm, sweet, juicy ruby-red fruit on produced on 2nd year canes. Used for fresh eating, freezing, canning or desserts. Zone 2.
Meeker: Summer Bearing Red, raspberry favored by many. Zone 5
Willamette: Summer Bearing Large, dark red berries with a slightly tart flavor. Requires support as it can get 6-8' tall. Zone 4
Tulameen: Summer Bearing. Long production time and large, sweet firm fruit. Bred in Canada. Zone 5

Boysenberry: A hybrid berry that is a 4 way cross between raspberry, loganberry, dewberry and blackberry. They are a deep purple sweet/tart berry and look like an elongated blackberry. They produce berries only on 2nd year canes (floricanes) so leave first year leaf producing canes (primocanes) standing and prune out floricanes after your berry harvest each year. Healthful but poor shippers. So you've likely only had one our of someone's garden or at Knott's Berry Farm in CA. Zone 5

Ever Bearing Varieties:

Fall Gold: Everbearing Yellow variety that starts producing its heaviest crop in early summer followed by lighter harvests through early Fall. Fruit is sweet and juicy, firm, extra large conical berries are borne in large clusters. Excellent for all purposes. Hardy, vigorous and very productive. Zone 3.
 Everbearing Red, cold-hardy raspberry. Heavy yielding, large, firm, sweet, juicy bright red, fruit on new wood from early summer through fall. Excellent for fresh eating or preserves. Self-pollinating. Bears first crop in July and lighter crop in September. Zone 2

Lewis: Everbearing. Large fruited prolific variety with good flavor. Early season producer with a second crop later crop.

Black Raspberries Care

Pruning for black raspberries is a little different than the red or yellow types.  They will be more clump forming.  Once your plant matures, thin canes to just the most vigorous canes within the clump pruning out the canes that bore fruit the year prior.  Black raspberry canes will have side branches off the main canes that can get quite long - these laterals should be cut back to 12"-16" in Spring and will then produce fruit in Summer.  These types also benefit from tying up to a support.

Rhubarb (Rheum)

This perennial plant with its trademark crimson red stalks and sweet/tart taste, can spread 2-3 feet. Used in pies, cakes, preserves and as a wonderful sauce for just about anything. (reduce down using a little water, brown sugar and butter) Rhubarb is long lived but requires a well-drained spot with loose soil at planting time. The roots can grow quite deep. Do not harvest stalks the first year. Use sparingly the second year—but in year three have at it! Just always leave 1/3 of your plant to help it remain strong.  Once established, rhubarb is an easy care, reliable producer. Grow in full or part-sun.

Serviceberry a.k.a. Saskatoon or Juneberry (Amelanchier Alnifolia)

Serviceberry prefers well-drained soil. Pea-sized blue-black fruit produced around mid-July is similar to blueberries, left unpicked, birds will clean the shrub. So, if you'd like to harvest the fruit, consider using bird netting...or plant extra to "share." Extremely hardy—good candidate for higher elevations but protect from deer. Leaves turn shades of yellow, orange and red in Fall. Plant in full sun for best fall color. Drought tolerant.


Native Saskatoon:  a large multi-stemmed native shrub most commonly seen in Colorado forests. White flowers in Spring are followed by dark purple, highly nutritious fruit that is sweet and good  eaten fresh, dried or cooked. It can get up to 15' high and wide over time so leave some space for this one!  Showy in Fall with yellow-orange leaves. Plant in a sunny, well drained spot. Zone 4 - hardy to about 10,000 feet elevation.

Northline:  is a nicely shaped shrub form with large white flowers in Spring. These are followed by dark purple, highly nutritious fruit that is sweet and good  eaten fresh, dried or cooked. It will get 5'-7' high and wide. Also gorgeous as a showy Fall shrub as leaves turn yellow-red in Autumn. Plant in a sunny, well drained spot. Zone 2.

The varieties listed above are shrub form serviceberries.  If you would like a taller tree form, visit our Fruit Tree page for info on a larger variety.


These perennial plants can either be June-bearing (crops all at once) or everbearing (spring crop followed by later smaller crops). Our varieties are all everbearing. In addition to providing you with sweet fruit, strawberries have wonderful red fall color and make a good dense groundcover. If slugs become a nuisance, diatomaceous earth, beer traps, or crushed egg shells are effective controls. Netting will likely be necessary to protect fruit from squirrels and birds. Feed in early spring with a balanced fertilizer. Requires soils moderately rich in organic matter that drain well. Benefits greatly from winter mulching and consistent moderate moisture.

Fort Laramie (everbearing)

Western Sandcherry (Prunus Besseyi)

This 4' shrub blooms profusely in May. White flowers are followed by seeded purple fruit the size of a grape that ripens in mid-August. Eat fresh or use in jams. Fruit is loved by birds.

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Phelan Gardens
4955 Austin Bluffs Parkway.
Colorado Springs, CO, 80918

(719) 574-8058

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A photograph of various signs that point to sections of Phelan Gardens such as Perennials, Vines, Grasses and more
Phelan Gardens Perennials section of their store