Cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon) are nutritious with many health benefits and are relatively simple to grow. However, we often forget these plants when growing vegetables and fruits in the backyard garden. Learn how to grow your own cranberry bushes and when to transplant cranberries according to your region, and care for your cranberry plants as they grow.
Unlike other garden delights like tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and potatoes, cranberry plants are a sustainable crop since they grow back year after year without much effort.
The land supports the cranberries while the cranberry bed enriches the soil, so it is a win-win for both you and the environment. While commercial cranberry growers use lots of fertilizers and pesticides which negatively impact the ecosystem, homegrown cranberry shrubs are easy to maintain organically and an ideal way to produce fresh and healthy berries for your kitchen and pantry.
Growing and Transplanting Cranberries
The key to growing cranberries at home is to give them the proper spacing and growing conditions.
Planting and harvesting your own food is fun and rewarding in many ways, and propagation is one of the easiest methods. While transplanting cranberry plants seems straightforward, cranberries require the right conditions to flourish. Discover their needs to help you grow a successful cranberry bed.
Find the best time to transplant cranberry bushes and how to care for them year after year, from watering and fertilizing to pruning. Explore a fun recipe for using your homegrown cranberries in a tasty dish.
Things to Know before Transplanting Cranberry Plants
As tempting as it is to grow cranberries in the yard, rushing ahead with the planting process often ends with negative results. Here are some important things to know before transplanting cranberry plants.
Cranberry plants are slow growers, and there are many different cultivars, including Early Black, Howes, Stevens, and the American cranberry.
They grow naturally as ground cover throughout areas of North America, including Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Oregon, Maine, and British Columbia. However, they are also easy to grow in other USDA hardiness zone areas.
They have a shallow root system and prefer soil acidity with a pH of 4.5 to 5.5. If you do not have acidic soil, consider adjusting the soil pH by adding organic matter, sulfur, or bone meal.
Best Time to Transplant Cranberry Bushes
Transplanting cranberry plants is fairly easy, but there is a good and bad time to plant them. Learn the best time to transplant cranberry bushes depending on your location to ensure your plants thrive in their new garden.
Cranberry Growth Rate
Unlike other plants, cranberries do not grow from seed. Instead, plant them from cuttings that are one to three years old. Rooting your own cuttings takes longer, but it’s also the most inexpensive way to grow new cranberry plants. Growing cranberries this way takes the plant roughly four or more years to produce bright red fruit.
The optimal hardiness zone varies between cranberry cultivars. However, the American cranberry (Viburnum trilobum) grows in zones 2 through 7, and the best time to take new cuttings is in the very early spring.
How and When to Transplant Cranberries
The way to determine when to plant cranberries is to learn about your hardiness zone and plant them after the last major frost in early spring. Find out how to transplant cranberries from cuttings and care for your plants as they mature.
In early spring, take an eight-inch cutting from a healthy, well-hydrated cranberry plant, and remove the flower buds and bottom foliage, leaving the top three to four leaves.
Fill a garden pot with a lightweight medium of compost and sand and insert the cut end of the cutting into the soil. Water the plant and set it in front of a sunny window.
After eight weeks, the cutting begins rooting and is ready for transplanting, whether you are looking for the way to grow cranberries in a container or your garden. A week before transplanting, harden the plant off to acclimate it to the outdoors before transplanting it into a larger container.
Where do cranberries grow best? After a year of growing in a larger pot outside, it’s time to move it into a full sun garden. Early spring is the best time to transplant cranberries. Space them two feet apart if you plant more than one, and make the hole slightly larger than the root ball.
Water after planting and spread mulch or peat moss over the soil to retain moisture. The time to fertilize and feed the cranberries is during the first couple of years. The best cranberry plant fertilizer is one with with high nitrogen content. Trimming cranberries when they form new runners and pruning dead wood promotes berry production.
Keep an eye out for common cranberry pests, such as aphids, weevils, and fruitworm, and use insecticidal soap when necessary.
Growing near cranberry companion plants like azaleas and blueberries limits disease and bug problems and provides a mutually beneficial growing situation. Some blueberry bushes can grow rather tall, so note the cultivar before growing with other low-growers to keep from shading them.
Making Cranberry Crisp after Harvesting Fresh Cranberries
Three or four years after transplanting a cranberry tree or bush, you finally get to reap the benefits of your work, and harvest time is upon you.
After you learn when to harvest cranberries and how to do it properly, your kitchen is now overflowing with fresh berries, and you get to use them to make cranberry juice and other recipes. This cranberry crisp is simple to prepare and makes up to ten servings.
Heat the oven to 350°F, spray a baking sheet with cooking spray, and set it aside. Prepare the cranberry filling by combining the fresh cranberries, vanilla extract, brown sugar, orange juice, and zest in a bowl until combined.
Make the topping in another bowl by mixing the oats, brown sugar, nuts, melted butter, flour, cinnamon, and salt. Pour the cranberry filling into the oiled pan and sprinkle the oatmeal crumble over the top.
Bake it for 25 to 30-minutes, until the topping is lightly golden; remove it from the oven and let it cool for five minutes. Serve the cranberry crisp warm with a side of vanilla ice cream.
Planting cranberry bushes around your home is a great way to ensure you get a yearly crop of berries, and transplanting them from cuttings is the quickest way to produce food. The key is to understand when to plant them according to your hardiness zones and prune them as needed.
We hope that knowing how and when to transplant cranberries in your garden provides you with an abundance of berries year after year, and we’d love it if you’d share our cranberry transplanting guide with the gardeners in your life on Facebook and Pinterest.