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How to Grow American Cranberry Bush

The American cranberry bush serves a few useful purposes for the home gardener. Growing up to 12 feet tall, this bush works well as a screen or hedge, and its berries provide bright ornamentation in fall and winter. The berries are also there for the picking, and they make scrumptious jellies and jams.

Plant cranberry bushes during spring or fall in an area that gets full sun to partial shade. These bushes do well in hardiness zones 2 to 7.

Dig holes at least 5 feet apart. Make each hole about three times the width of the root ball and just deep enough so the top of the root ball is level with the ground. Put in the plant, water it, refill the hole with soil and water again.

Keep the soil moist, but don't overwater it. Put a 2- or 3--inch layer of mulch around the plants to hold the moisture and prevent weeds.

Prune large branches from cranberry bushes after they flower—this will keep them from getting leggy.

Cranberry Bush Pests

Cranberry plants are grouped into two types -- highbush (Viburnum spp.) Although highbush shrubs are not “true” cranberry plants, they bear red fruits that are similar in look and taste to “true” lowbush cranberries. Beetles and borers are fond of highbush cranberry plants. Denuded stems do not generally lead to plant death unless injury is sustained year after year. Verticillium wilt disease can cause plant death if it attacks weakened plants that are under other stresses. Left unchecked, plants can die.


If your soil contains a lot of clay and doesn't drain well, amend it with compost before you plant your cranberry bushes.

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