Cranberries are popular additions to mueslis and bakes, and cranberry juice is renowned for its health benefits. This humble little berry is delicious to eat, with a tart finish. Although the bush is a slow-growing one, it’s a wonderful addition to any garden. 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.

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. Add fresh or dried cranberries to smoothies, cereals, salads and rice dishes, or turn them into preserves.

But, what sets them apart from other fruit?

What Makes Cranberries so Healthy?

These berries are incredible antioxidants, low in calories, and boast a wide variety of nutrients. These include:

  • Vitamin A
  • Thiamine (vitamin B1)
  • Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
  • Niacin (vitamin B3)
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamins E and K
  • Fibre
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium
  • Folate
  • Zinc
  • Sodium
  • Potassium
  • Phosphorous

With this broad spectrum of goodness, it’s no wonder that cranberries have so many health benefits. Just some of the ways they can keep us healthier is by:

  • Boosting the immune system.
  • Reducing the risk of hypertension, stroke, coronary heart disease, Alzheimer’s and diabetes.  
  • Fighting against obesity by improving the metabolism.
  • Improving gastrointestinal conditions and aiding in digestion.
  • Improving sensitivity to insulin.
  • Fighting cancer.
  • Preventing and easing arthritis.
  • Preventing bladder infections (cranberry juice is especially effective for this).

How to Use Them

There are so many ways to enjoy fresh, frozen and dried cranberries.  Add a handful of frozen berries to smoothies, plain yoghurt, or your muffin mix before baking it. Make cranberry jam or syrup and use it on roast pork, scones or a creamy cheesecake. Add fresh or dried cranberries to your muesli mix before toasting it in the oven for a tangy, sweet bite. Cranberries make a lovely sorbet and compliment the sweet tastiness of an apple pie too.

Growing Cranberries in Your Garden

Plant your shrub directly into the garden, where it has plenty of space to allow its vines to stretch out and flourish. If you’re growing your cranberries indoors, a 20-litre pot works best. Plant them about 0.5 metres apart from one another, with a similar space between rows of cranberries. They need full sun or partial shade to flourish.

Fertile soil that is enriched with organic matter and has an acidic pH level of between 4.5 and 5.5 is required. Mulch helps to keep moisture near the roots, add nutrients to the soil, and keep the weeds away.

The soil should always be kept damp, but these plants do not need to be watered often. There’s more information on growing your cranberry bush here.

Buy Your Cranberry Bush

Buy a healthy cranberry bush at Just Berry Plants to tap into all the health benefits and tasty treats of these berries. Call us on 074 144 5536 or 082 307 8241. Alternatively, email us on info@justberryplants.co.za.