Mitchella Plant Growing & Care Guide for Gardeners

In this Gardener's HQ guide, we'll explore cultivating Mitchella plants in your garden, indoor spaces, and other settings.

Partridgeberry, Twinberry, Running Box, & Squawberry: Cultivation & Garden Use

The Mitchella genus is a hardy perennial sub-shrub.

It has a prostate nature and is ideal for use as ground cover or for use in a rock garden.

Mitchella has small evergreen shiny leaves and blooms in the early months of summer with minute white flowers, and carries attractive red berries later.

Some of the common names for Mitchella include Squawberry, Partridge Berry and Running Box.

Mitchella repens
Mitchella repens picture by InAweofGod.

Partridge berry
Partridge berry (Mitchella repens) photograph by wackybadger.

Mitchella Growing and Care Guide

  • Common Names: Partridgeberry, Running Box, Squawberry.
  • Life Cycle: Hardy perennial.
  • Height: Prostate low-growing sub-shrubs that may reach 3 to 4 inches (7—10 cm).
  • Native: Americas, Eastern Asia.
  • Growing Region: Zones 3 to 9.
  • Flowers: Early summer.
  • Flower Details: White. Tiny.
  • Fruit: Red berries. Late summer through autumn.
  • Foliage: Evergreen. Shiny.
  • Sow Outside: 1/4 inch (6 mm). Middle of autumn using fresh seed. Germination time: Slow. Seeds should first be sown into flats. Next sink the flat into the ground in an area that offers shade, preferably close to a wall that faces north. Provide a glass/plastic covering. Keep an eye on the flats to ensure that the soil remains moist and to check if seedlings have emerged. Transplant to final location in the autumn. Nursery bought plants can be put out in spring or autumn. Spacing 10 to 16 inches (25 to 40 cm).
  • Sow Inside: No.
  • Requirements and care: Full or partial shade. Soil pH 4.0 to 6.0. Rich soil, moist soil. Provide a spring feed with a complete fertilizer. Mulch. Once established do not disturb. Propagate: by taking cuttings in the summer or from runners. Can be divided in the spring in cooler areas or the autumn in warmer areas, but it is perhaps best not to disturb the roots.
  • Family: Rubiaceae.
  • Closely Related Species: Coffee plants, Bedstraw, and Madder.
  • Miscellaneous: Edible fruit is often used to make jams.

How to Grow Squawberry Plants

It is best to grow Squawberry and other Mitchella from seed outdoors or to buy them from the garden centre.

The seeds should be sown into flats at a depth of 7 mm (1/3 inch) using fresh seed, when it becomes available in Mid-autumn.

The flats should be placed in a shady part of the garden and covered in glass.

Keep the soil moist. Be warned that it may take a long time for the seeds to germinate, if at all.

Once seedlings emerge, transplant them in the autumn. Space at about 25 cm (10 inchess) apart. Locate in either a shady or partially shaded area.

Squawberry likes to grow in moist soil that is rich and acidic (pH 4 to 6).

Caring for Mitchella Species in the Garden

Once growing, Mitchella plants should be fertilised every spring and a mulch applied.

If you require more plants allow Mitchella to grow for a few years, and divide the roots in the spring.

Alternatively, Squawberry and Partridge berry cuttings can be took in the summer. Many Mitchella plants may also produce runners once fully established.

Common Questions

How many members does the Mitchella genus contain?

The Mitchella genus contains only one species, which is commonly known as Partridge Berry.

Do Mitchella members make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Yes, Mitchella repens makes an excellent groundcover, especially in shady woodland gardens. Its attractive leaves and red berries can provide year-round interest.

Which Mitchella species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

Since Mitchella repens is the only species, it is the one most frequently grown. It's appreciated for its evergreen foliage and ornamental berries.

Are Mitchella plants fragrant?

Yes, the white flowers of Mitchella repens have a lovely fragrance.

What is the perfect location to grow Mitchella?

Mitchella repens prefers shaded locations with well-drained, moist soil. It's perfect for woodland gardens or shady areas under trees.

Is Mitchella invasive in the USA, if so in which states?

Currently, Mitchella repens is not considered invasive in the USA. In fact, it's native to North America.

How do I remove Mitchella plants from my garden?

If needed, Mitchella repens can be removed by hand pulling or careful digging to avoid disturbing surrounding plants.


The Mitchella plant genus belongs to the Rubiaceae family and is typically represented by Mitchella repens, commonly known as Partridgeberry. This evergreen ground cover plant is cherished for its dainty white flowers and bright red berries.

When planting Mitchella, select a spot with partial to full shade and moist, humus-rich soil. Plant them in the spring or fall and water regularly to keep the soil consistently moist. With appropriate care, they can form dense carpets that provide year-round interest in shady garden areas.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Mitchella plants. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ growing guides: How to grow Crosswort, Hyssopus plant, and Asperula plants.