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How to Prune Highbush Cranberry

Highbush Cranberry, also known as American Cranberry, is grown for its bright red berries that can be used to make jellies and sauces. Berries harvested after late summer or early fall are often bitter with an acidic flavor. Highbush Cranberries are large rounded shrubs that grow up to 15 feet tall. They can be used as a hedge or screen, as well as a specimen plant. Small white flowers bloom on Highbush Cranberries in the spring followed by the fruit in mid-summer. The flowers are produced on the current season’s growth, so Highbush Cranberries should be pruned in early spring before new growth appears.

Cut limbs smaller than 1/2 inch in diameter with hand pruners. Use lopping shears for limbs up to 1 inch and a pruning saw for larger limbs. Make cuts at a 30 degree angle just above a joint or bud.

Prune out broken, dead or diseased limbs with the proper pruning tool. Signs of disease are cankers, slimy spots in the bark or wood, or dead or dying leaves.

Remove up to 1/3 of the oldest branches at ground level with the appropriate pruning tool. This will encourage healthy new growth.

Use the correct pruning tool to prune back long or wayward limbs, or ones that extend into passageways.

Trim limbs back with the appropriate pruning tools to maintain the desired size, while preserving the shrub’s natural rounded form.

Rejuvenate older non-productive or straggly plants by cutting all limbs and branches back to within 6 inches of the ground with the appropriate pruning tools. This may result in few or no flowers and fruit in the current season, but it will promote new vigorous growth.


Clean debris from around shrub. Destroy diseased and dead trimmings. Shred healthy green trimmings and use in compost.

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