How to Grow and Care for Black Chokeberry

Black chokeberry plant with black berries and leaves closeup

The Spruce / K. Dave

Black chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) is a deciduous shrub that is native to the eastern part of North America. It grows in an upright and fairly rounded shape. Its glossy, dark green leaves are around 1 to 3 inches long and either lanceolate or elliptical in shape. The foliage turns red to reddish-purple in the fall, providing striking color to the landscape before dropping off the plant for winter. Clusters of small five-petaled flowers appear in the spring, and purplish-black to black fruits that are around the size of blueberries appear in the late summer to fall. Black chokeberry has a slow to moderate growth rate and can be planted in the fall or spring.

Common Names Black chokeberry, aronia berry, aronia, chokeberry
Botanical Name Aronia melanocarpa
Family Rosaceae
Plant Type Shrub
Mature Size 3–6 ft. tall and wide
Sun Exposure Full, partial
Soil Type Well-drained 
Soil pH Acidic
Bloom Time Spring
Flower Color White
Hardiness Zone 3-8 (USDA)
Native Area North America

Black Chokeberry Care

This shrub is highly adaptable and hardy. It can grow well in both moist and dry locations. Ideally the soil pH should be acidic, but it can also grow in alkaline soil. And while it prefers soil that drains well, it is also tolerant of boggy soil. You can take advantage of the adaptability of black chokeberry when deciding how to use it in the landscape. For example, its tolerance of boggy soil makes it an excellent choice for wet areas where many other plants refuse to grow.

Other than removing the suckers that the shrub tends to send out, maintenance is very low, as it will mostly take care of itself. It also generally doesn't have any major problems with pests or diseases. Plan to water during dry spells and prune annually to maintain its shape.

Black chokeberry plant with small white five-petaled flowers closeup

The Spruce / K. Dave

Black chokeberry branches with black berries hanging from above

The Spruce / K. Dave

Black chokeberry fruits piled on each other closeup

The Spruce / K. Dave


You can plant a black chokeberry shrub in either full sun or partial shade. But you will get the best flowering and fruiting in locations with full sun, meaning at least six hours of direct sunlight on most days. In too much shade, the shrub will likely only minimally flower and fruit, and it will produce weak growth that ultimately could kill the plant.


A virtue of this shrub is how adaptable it is to a wide range of soils. It can tolerate both sandy and clay soil, though it prefers to grow in something in between those two. It also can handle some salt in the soil, making it a good option for a site near roadways that use road salt.


Black chokeberry has moderate water needs. It can tolerate both the occasional drought and occasional flooding. But during prolonged dry spells and during particularly hot weather, it is ideal to give your shrub some water.

Temperature and Humidity

Black chokeberry has good tolerance for both the cold and hot temperatures of its growing zones. It flowers fairly late in the spring and thus avoids frost. Humidity typically isn’t an issue for the shrub as long as there is good air circulation around the foliage to prevent fungal diseases.


Black chokeberry likely won't need supplemental fertilization unless you have nutrient-deficient soil. You can mix compost into the soil when you plant your shrub to give its growth a boost. Then, each spring apply a light layer of compost for continued healthy growth.

Types of Black Chokeberry

There are several cultivars of black chokeberry, including:

  • ‘Autumn Magic’: This shrub has a more compact growth habit than the main species plant but with large clusters of fruit.
  • ‘Iroquois Beauty’: This variety also has a compact growth habit and features particularly vivid fall color.
  • ‘Viking’: This variety is known for its large black fruit and also sports vivid fall color.
  • ‘McKenzie’: This is a tall variety that can grow up to 12 feet.


Besides removing suckers around the base of the shrub as needed to prevent unwanted new shrubs from growing, pruning will not be an extensive chore for the black chokeberry shrub. After the plant is done flowering in the spring, lightly prune the stems to shape the shrub to your liking. Also, remove any dead, damaged, or diseased portions of the shrub as you spot them.

Propagating Black Chokeberry

The easiest and fastest way to propagate chokeberry is from softwood cuttings taken in mid-to late summer. It is also the only way to propagate a cultivar and get plants that are true to the parent.

  1. Cut a branch to a length so that you have two to four internodes (where a branch or a leaf emerges). Remove all bottom leaves except for the top two.
  2. Dip the cut end in rooting hormone.
  3. Fill a 4-inch pot with moistened potting mix and insert the cutting so about 2 inches are buried.
  4. Place the pot in an outdoor location with partial shade and keep it well-watered until you see new growth. At that point, you can transplant it in garden soil, or let it grow some more and plant it in the fall.

How to Grow Black Chokeberry From Seed

Propagating chokeberry from seed is challenging as the tiny seeds need several months of cold stratification. Also, seeds from a cultivar (which are difficult and messy to extract from the pulp of the berries) won't produce an identical plant. For these reasons, propagating black chokeberry from seed is not recommended.

Potting and Repotting Black Chokeberry

Black chokeberry can be grown in a container but it must be large, 20 gallons at the minimum, with adequate drainage holes. Fill it with lightweight potting mix combined with a few handfuls of compost. Because it is a slow to moderate grower, it won't need yearly repotting, only when the roots fill the container and grow out of the drainage holes.


As a native plant, black chokeberry is well adapted to winters in its growth range. If there happens to be a late frost, this can damage the blooms and affect later fruiting for that growing season. If your area does expect frost when your shrub is in bloom, consider covering the shrub with a sheet to protect it.

Common Pests and Plant Diseases

Other than susceptibility to leaf spots and twig or fruit blight, the plant is not bothered by any serious pests or diseases.

How to Get Black Chokeberry to Bloom

The shrub not blooming could be due to lack of sunlight or late pruning. Aronia blooms on old wood and if you pruned it in the early spring, you might have accidentally removed the flower buds. Pruning should be done soon after the shrub has finished flowering.

Common Problems with Black Chokeberry

Because black chokeberry is so tolerant of many different growing conditions, it tends to readily spread in the landscape. If you don't want multiple shrubs forming a thicket, you will have to monitor for and remove suckers around the base of the plant from which new plants with grow.

  • Is black chokeberry a host plant?

    Native bees, especially mason bees, feed on the nectar and pollen of chokeberry. It is also a host plant for butterflies, moths, and songbirds.

  • Where does the name chokeberry come from

    The berries are edible but so astringent and bitter that they make you choke when you try to eat them raw, hence the name, chokeberry.

  • Are the berries of the chokeberry edible?

    They are edible but not palatable raw so they are usually cooked and used for jellies, jams, and pies.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Aronia melanocarpa. Missouri Botanical Garden.

  2. Black Chokeberry. University of Maryland Extension.