Cranberries are evergreen dwarf shrubs that produce beautiful dark-pink flowers with petals that flex outwards. The berry fruits are larger than the leaves and turn from green to red when ripe, but remain a bit more sour than sweet in flavour. They are delicious to eat and rewarding to have in the garden, although they tend to be slow-growing.
Add fresh or dried cranberries to smoothies, cereals, salads and rice dishes, or turn them into preserves. These berries are incredible antioxidants and have plenty of fibre, iron, magnesium and calcium, as well as immune-boosting vitamin C.
Plant your shrub directly into the garden, where it has plenty of space to allow its runners, or vines, to stretch out and flourish. Plant them about 1.5 metres apart from one another, with a similar space between rows of cranberries. They need full sun or partial shade to flourish.
This creeping plant is a low one, reaching a height of only 20 to 40 centimetres. But, it creeps and stretches for about 2 metres wide.
Can be planted in a long container or in the ground
Cranberries need fertile soil that is enriched with organic matter and has an acidic pH level of between 4.5 and 5.5. Use sandy soil that has been mixed with untreated Lithuanian / Canadian sphagnum peat moss as this will retain moisture and give your plant the best chance at thriving.
Combine acid compost and Lithuanian sphagnum for the best results and maximum harvest. It’s extremely important to get the correct soils for your cranberry plant. Lithuanian or Canadian peat moss is a must; along with acid compost and Volcanic Rock Dust.
The peat moss must be soaked in water for at least 24 hours before planting. This is because it absorbs a lot of water initially and, if it hasn’t been soaked, it will absorb all of the water in the ground that should be feeding your plant.
Place acid compost into the pot or hole and then add soaked peat moss, berry mix and volcanic rock dust to the top section and mix well. Gently place the plant in the soil mixture without disturbing the roots and cover only the roots (not the stem) with pine bark mulch.
Mulch helps to keep moisture near the roots, add nutrients to the soil, and keep the weeds away. Organic materials like pine needles or pine bark are ideal because they create a more acidic environment, contributing to the optimal pH of the soil. But, keep the mulch away from the branches and trunk of the plant as it will cause rot and infection.
The soil should always be kept damp, but these plants do not need to be watered often. Just ensure that the roots don’t dry out completely. Many are under the misconception that cranberries should be flooded, but this is actually only done for harvesting on a large scale – the plants are submerged in water to allow the ripe cranberries to float.
Use a level teaspoon of our berry fertiliser once every 4 -5 months.
Once it is mature, you can stop using ammonium sulphate. Rock phosphate and magnesium sulphate (also known as Epsom salts) can also be used as fertilisers.
Let the plant grow unhindered for the first three years. Thereafter, you can cut back the weak or dead vines every spring to encourage the plant to grow only upwards. Don’t cut back any of the branches that are already growing up.
The berries ripen over summer and are usually ready to be picked in the first month of autumn. If your cranberries are ready for picking, they will be firm to the touch with a lovely red or deep-crimson colour. If you bounce one against a hard surface, it should be springy, bouncing back at you.