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How to Plant Cranberry Bushes

By Lisa Parris ; Updated September 21, 2017

The cranberry is a bushy shrub that is well adapted to northern climates and damp conditions. While these are the conditions it seems to prefer, as long as the cranberry bush is planted in full sun and nutrient rich soil, it will tolerate a range of other climatic conditions. Through the application of proper planting procedure and care, cranberry bushes can grow to 15 feet in height with each branch bursting into bloom in the late spring. The clusters of white flowers drop when fertilized, leaving the popular bright red cranberries to develop and ripen through the autumn.

Select a planting site that will allow your cranberry bushes to receive full sun. Cranberries will grow in partial shade, but the lack of sunlight will have an impact on the number of berries the bushed produce.

Dig one hole for each shrub, leaving at least 3 feet between each plant. The holes should be approximately twice as wide as the root ball of the bush and about the same depth as the container it was purchased in.

Condition the soil to improve the growth and development of the cranberry bushes. Mix one bag of sand with two bags of compost. Then add half cup of cottonseed meal and a half cup of lime. Stir with a shovel until all of the ingredients are well blend and then add the fill dirt. Combine the soil and the conditioner, mixing thoroughly.

Put the shrub in the center of the newly dug hole and add one or two shovels full of dirt to help hold the plant steady. Then fill the hole with cool water. Leave the shrub standing in the water until all of the liquid has been absorbed. This will help to mimic the marshy condition the cranberry naturally thrives in.

Fill the remaining planting space with dirt once all of the water has been taken in by the roots and surrounding soil. Hold the bush with one hand to keep it in position, use the other hand to push the soil mixture into the hole. Pause periodically to press lightly on the soil with your fingertips, tamping the loose soil and helping to support the shrub.

Water the newly planted cranberries for approximately 5 minutes. Then spread a 2-inch layer of mulch around the base of the plant. This will help the soil retain moisture, keep the roots from overheating and discourage the growth of weeds


Things You Will Need

  • Cranberry bush
  • Shovel
  • 1 bag sand
  • 2 bags compost
  • 1/2 cup cottonseed meal
  • 1/2 cup lime
  • Water
  • Mulch

About the Author


Lisa Parris is a writer and former features editor of "The Caldwell County News." Her work has also appeared in the "Journal of Comparative Parasitology," "The Monterey County Herald" and "The Richmond Daily News." In 2012, Parris was honored with awards from the Missouri Press Association for best feature story, best feature series and best humor series.