The cranberry bush grows well in colder climates and provides color and fruit to any garden or landscape. As long as it is planted in soil that is high in minerals and nutrients, a cranberry bush is forgiving of other soil aspects. It prefers a soil pH of around 6.5, but will tolerate higher and lower extremes. Follow these steps to grow healthy, strong cranberry bushes with minimal effort.
Step 1: Soil and Sun
You cranberry bush will grow in partial shade, but it prefers full sun. If possible, plant it in a depression where it receives direct sunlight for most of the day. It prefers moist, well-drained soil, but you can condition the area for that. If the bush is going to receive partial shade, it is better for the shady period to be in the afternoon hours. Morning sunlight is important for healthy plant growth and the development of bloom and blossoms.
Step 2: Condition the Soil
To condition soil for a cranberry highbush, mix together:
- 2 parts sifted compost
- 1 part sand
- ½ cup cotton seed meal
- ¼ cup of lime or gypsum
Dig out an area twice as large as the root ball of the plant, and mix the removed soil with this fertilizing mixture. The extra area will prevent the roots from encroaching on other nearby plants, giving your new transplant an opportunity for growth before it must compete for nutrients.
Step 3: Cranberry Planting
Place the cranberry bush in the hole and fill with water. Allow the water to stand until it has been absorbed, and then fill the hole with the conditioned soil. Pack the soil in tightly enough to give the plant firm support. If you have soil left over, make a small wall around the hole. If desired, you can use the excess soil in another location or mix it back into your compost.
Step 4: Protecting the Plant
Prevent invasive ground cover with mulch. Add about 2 inches of biodegradable mulch to cover the area. This covering serves to hold in moisture and nutrients, but it also serves as a barrier against invasive insects or plant diseases.
Additionally, having a covering of mulch around the plant makes it easy to perform periodic fertilizing. Just pull back the mulch, add some compost and cover it over again.
Step 5: Pruning and Compost
As the bush grows, you will need to prune it back to take off broken branches or train the bush into a well-rounded, full shape. Always trim branches above leaf or twig junctures. It is important to the health of the bush that the tips of all branches end at a leaf or branch. Save the clippings to start new plants, or cut them into small pieces and recycle them in the compost bin.