I plan to plant two serviceberries in my backyard that has plenty of sunshine at my house at Markham, Ontario.

1) Among Robin Hill, Autumn Brilliance and Canadian serviceberry, which one is the easiest to maintain and doesn’t require moist condition?

2) When berries ripe, can we just leave them fall down without collecting them? Is there any adverse effect to the lawn or soil? Any unpleasant smell?

3) For privacy, can I plant the two saplings at 8′ distance apart? Would this cause any trouble to the health and growth of the trees?

Many thanks


Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners.

Serviceberry (Amelanchier) is a good choice for Ontario climate and growing conditions. The three cultivars you list are bushy, multi-stemmed trees. Occasional pruning of root suckers and branches to keep their shape may be necessary. All three trees offer showy, slightly fragrant white blooms that attract native bees and pollinators. In the fall, purple edible berries taste similar to blueberries and can be used in jams, jellies and pies. From personal experience, many birds (including cedar waxwings) rush to eat the berries, leaving few to gather or fall on the ground.

Robin Hill Serviceberry (Amelanchier x grandiflora ‘Robin Hill’) is a more narrow, upright tree with pale pink flowers, changing to white. It is often used in confined spaces or on streetscapes. Height is 20 feet and spread is 15 feet.

The Serviceberry is part of the Rose (Rosaceae) family which can be affected by cedar rust fungus (Gymnosporangium). This disease originates from junipers, particularly eastern red cedar trees (Juniperus virginiana), so be aware of any of these trees in your immediate area. The disease can be mainly cosmetic, causing yellow spots on leaves. In more serious cases, cankers on branches can develop. Toronto Master Gardeners answered a specific question concerning ‘Robin Hill’ serviceberry.

Autumn Brilliance Serviceberry (Amelanchier x grandiflora ‘Autumn Brilliance’) is commonly known as Apple Serviceberry. It is a cross between downy serviceberry (A. arborea) and Alleghany serviceberry (A. laevis) which makes it more disease resistant to rust, leaf spot, fire blight, powdery mildew and canker. It thrives in medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Maturing to a height of 15 – 20 feet and spread of 15 – 25 feet. Fall colour is brilliant orange-red.

Common Serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis) is also called shadblow serviceberry. It is a larger tree which is tolerant of a wide range of well-drained soil. The height is 15 to 30 feet tall with a spread of 15 to 20 feet. Fall colour is orange red. Because of its size, this tree is often found in woodland settings or along stream banks. This tree may struggle with drought conditions. Although it is native to Canada, it is slightly more susceptible to disease problems.

Planting instructions, pruning, pest and disease management can be found on the Montana State University website:

With a distance of 8 feet between two shrubs, it may cause crowding, impact air flow and impede their health. You might consider planting one tree and allow it to flourish. Enjoy the beautiful blooms, active bird life and fall colour this tree will deliver to your garden.

On the Toronto Master Gardeners website there is further information on Serviceberries. Use the Search Box and read a number of answers about locations, diseases and planting instructions.

May 3, 2022