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How to Grow Cranberries

A guide to growing Cranberry Bushes in gardens, allotments and containers

Cranberries in Container

Family/Latin Name

Ericaceae - Vaccinium

Type of Plant

Hardy Scrub

Suitable for

Large Containers (recommended) Gardens, Allotments

Recommended Tree Forms Bush
                  Jump to:-     Pruning   |  Pests & Diseases 


Growing Cranberries - Details

See also:-  Fruit Growing Glossary  |  Tree Forms  |  Container Growing  | Buying Plants


Site and Soil

Prefer sun with  partial shade. Soil should be on the acidic side, moist but well drained

Plant Dimensions

Height:  +20cm/8"  - Spread: up to 90cm/3ft


Mature bushes will give +4.5kg/10lb of fruit per year

Time between planting  and harvesting

 2-year-old plants: Produce the season after planting

Planting Time

Late October to March (soil conditions permitting)

Number of plants needed for pollination 1
How to plant - Open ground Dig in ericaceous compost or leaf mould when planting if your soil is not acidic. Space bushes 90cm/3ft apart on all sides mulch with a layer of acid peat or bark after planting if possible. Water in well.
How to plant - in containers Container size 60cm/2ft wide x 60cm/2ft deep.

Make sure there are plenty of drainage holes in the bottom of the container. Place a 2.5cm/1" layer of stones or crocks in the bottom and cover with enough soil or compost so that when you place the tree in the container, the original planting depth (which you should be able to see on the stem of the bush)  5cm/2" below the top of the container.

Fill the container with soil or compost mixed with an  ericaceous compost or leaf mould compost to within  5cm/2" of the top of the container. Firm well and water in.

  Aftercare Open Ground - Every year in January apply a 5cm/2" acid peat or bark mulch to the surface of the soil surrounding the bush to a radius of 30cm/12" and apply an acid based fertiliser yearly  in early March. Keep well watered though not sodden.
Containers -  After the first season of fruiting, it is best to carefully remove the top layer of compost and replace it with fresh compost every year in January. Do this very carefully so as not to damage the roots. Keep well watered though not sodden..
General - Protect from birds with netting. Once the fruit begin to swell, keep very well watered.
  Harvesting Harvesting takes place from September onwards but  must be completed before any frosts.  Once the berries turn deep red, pick individual berries as and when they ripen.
  Propagation Cuttings can be taken in very early spring or in early July. Cut sections of stems 20cm/8" long, remove flower buds and/or most leaves only leaving the top 3 or 4 leaves if present, then  insert the bottoms into pots containing a sandy compost. Place in a warm shaded place in a greenhouse, frame or propagator where they should root within 8 weeks. Gradually harden off before potting on into larger containers. grow on for 1 year before planting in their permanent positions.

How to Prune Cranberry Bushes

Cranberry bushes require minimal pruning.  In early spring prune out dead and damaged stems and any stem which you wish to shorten to keep the plant tidy.

Cranberry Pests & Diseases

Cranberries grown in the UK and relatively disease free however birds may be a problem.

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