Tuesday, 3 December 2013

How to grow Cranberries

Nothing could be more appropriate right now than the idea of growing your own Cranberries – it’s certainly a great gifting idea too if you have a gardening-mad friend or loved one.
Cranberries are quite easy to grow provided you have an ericaceous soil and if not they take well to pots. Cranberries are relatively small in stature so you don’t need a huge amount of space. If you do grow them in containers make sure it is a fairly shallow yet wide one, these are quite shallow rooted shrubs so you don't want lots of unused compost further down which may go stale.
Belonging to the Vaccinium family – which also includes Blueberries but quite different in appearance, Cranberries are low, spreading evergreen shrubs with glossy dark tinted leaves and pink bell flowers. Sounds attractive? They are! Nice enough for the front of the flower border or on the patio. They will grow well in full sun as long as not too dry, or in part shade. Plant 3' apart, height is no more than 12-15".
The berries will ripen in November of course so you can make pots of your own cranberry sauce, or if you grow several you can juice them too.
There aren’t too many cultivars to choose from. Amongst the best are:
POLLINATION Whilst blueberries generally are best planted in pairs to set fruit wlel, Cranberries seem to crop ok as sole plants. But you don't get huge amounts out of one plant so for productivities sake a pair would be a more practical plan.
If you are looking for further variation then the closely allied 'Lingonberry' Vaccinium vitis-idaea, is well worth including and will associate very well with a group of Cranberries.
Happily there is no pruning involved so these are quite low maintenance fruit plants and well worth giving them a go, something different and enjoyable to grow.

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