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.
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 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 at about 25 cm apart into 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; or Mitchella may even produce runners once fully established.