Propagating and Growing Bilberries

Muddle-UpMuddle-Up Posts: 9,341

I haven't seen bilberries for sale in greengrocers/supermarkets for decades, but I remember the wonderful bilberry pies my Granny baked back in the 1950's, probably with fruit she picked in the wild. 

I would really love to grow my own but hear that they are exceptionally hard to get started ( although they don't seem to suffer in the wild! ).  I have just bought 50 seeds.....what next?  I have plenty of rough acidic ground and am in Aberdeenshire, so it's certainly cold enough!

I'm not a fan of the American blueberry, what I want are good, old-fashioned British bilberries!

Any advice would be gratefully welcomed.

'Every Spring is the only Spring, a perpetual astonishment.'
Ellis Peters 🌸


  • Muddle-UpMuddle-Up Posts: 9,341

    so...I take it I'm the only bilberry fan out here!


    'Every Spring is the only Spring, a perpetual astonishment.'
    Ellis Peters 🌸
  • chickychicky SurreyPosts: 7,108

    Never come across one - so lets call me a potential fan.  How different are they from blueberries ?

    The Stone Age didn’t end because they ran out of stones ......
  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener LeicsPosts: 6,357

    I have a couple of young bilberry plants I bought last year in large containers of ericaceous compost and which look to be doing well.  I understand their crop is per plant considerably less than a similarly sized blueberry plant, so will be trying to propagate more from cuttings.  Bilberry seeds need cold stratification and may take a long time to germinate, so don't give up if nothing appears.  I'd be tempted to sow them in a mixture of your acid soil and lime-free compost and then leave in a cold frame until something happens.  Some good info here:

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Brenda, I love bilberries and like you grew up with grandparents who made yummy pies!  I don't like blueberries as i find them tasteless. I have just been up to Scotland and managed to get hold of some plants and have planted them in containers with John Innes ericaceous compost. I will await next year with baited breath to see if they take, but knowing how temperamental they are........ image

  • Kathy 2Kathy 2 Posts: 109

    My mum used to make wimberry (spelling??) pies in the 50's - they were gorgeous. I've often wondered if they were the same as blueberries.

  • Winberries/bilberries are not the same as bluberries. I'm about to plant some seeds bought from ebay ref 320945863335

  • Bilberries are supposed to be good to guard against macular degeneration , which is in my husband's family , so would like to grow them, we are in the south of England ?


  • I have idyllic memories of eating bilberry pie in Filey in the summer of 1959 (hot and dry) and on the moors! My father grew up in Yorkshire and was always bemoaning the lack of bilberries in London where we lived. And going berserk if we called them blackberries......I'm going to buy some plants, any tips?  Now living in Suffolk on a cold windy hill hoping that THIS year I can do him proud and drift into bilberry heaven by producing some next summer. I've had no sense of taste for a year due to a cancer drug, and recently found out that smell is not detected through the taste buds but in fact each smell has it's own tune, so it's linked to the brain through sound!!! And I'm a musician. Want to hear the smell of bilberries....

  • I have picked whinberries in west peak district for years and the finest performing bushes were in light shade under sessile Oak and Birch [ Betula pubescens ]. The bushes were drawn up in height by the shade [ about 2 to 4 ft in height and the berries were much easier to spot ]. They like the same type of soil as Heather but prefer the damper areas to those favoured by heather. You will need a lot of bushes to get a decent crop as the berries are much smaller than Blueberries. When raw they are not as good as Blueberries lacking their sweetness. When cooked their flavour is much more intense than blueberries, they make better pies, jam and ice cream/sorbet. Blueberries do make a better cheesecake.

  • WelshonionWelshonion Posts: 3,115
    Rumour has it they are sold in Abergavenny market.
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