How to Grow a Cranberry Bush

Written by megan martin
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How to Grow a Cranberry Bush
Cranberry bushes can be grown for fruit or just for show. (bush image by Dusan Radivojevic from

The cranberry bush has a long history in both the United States and Canada. Canadian natives originally used the fruits of the cranberry bush for food and medicine as well as clothing dye. The bark and leaves were frequently boiled in teas and used as painkillers or sedatives. Today cranberries appear in pies, juices and sauces. The beautiful, white flowered bushes are also used as ornament to enhance home landscapes. The nice thing about cranberry bushes is they require little care once they have been established.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Compost
  • Peat moss
  • Sand
  • Shovel
  • Cranberry bush
  • Mulch
  • Watering can or hose
  • Clippers

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  1. 1

    Prepare the soil in spring or fall. If you live in a northern climate where the ground freezes early, spring planting is preferred. If you live in a warmer climate with milder falls, it is best to plant your cranberry bush then. Ensure the soil you will plant the cranberry bush in has good drainage. For clay soils with poor drainage, work organic materials such as peat, animal manure, compost and sand to improve the drainage. Cranberry bushes will tolerate a variety of soil types but thrive in soil that is well-drained.

  2. 2

    Chose a spot for your cranberry bush that receives full sun to partial shade. While cranberry bushes can grow in shade, their fruits and flowers will be brighter and more plentiful if grown in sun. Dig a hole wide and deep enough to hold and cover the roots of the cranberry bush. Place the roots in the hole. If you intend to use the fruit of the cranberry bush, plant a second one nearby. These bushes need cross-pollination to produce fruit.

  3. 3

    Mulch around the cranberry bush. Spread a one to two-inch thick layer of mulch such as compost, wood chips or bark around the cranberry bush. Leave half an inch of non-mulched ground around the base of the bush to prevent insect damage. Mulching helps reduce watering and weed problems.

  4. 4

    Water the cranberry bush. Keep the soil moist but not wet. Cranberry bushes respond poorly to excessive moisture. If the soil is dry at a depth of one inch, it is acceptable to water the cranberry bush.

  5. 5

    Fertilise the cranberry bush once a year in spring or fall one month after the first frost. Apply a layer of compost or well-rotted manure to the soil to increase fruit production. Do not heavily apply nitrogen fertilisers as they will reduce the cranberry bush’s ability to flower. Applying fertiliser in fall will promote more growth than applying it in spring.

  6. 6

    Prune the cranberry bush when necessary. Remove any damaged or diseased stems if needed. Cut the largest stems at the base of the bush once a year to encourage the growth of new shoots. It is best to prune the cranberry bush just after it flowers.

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