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Cranberry plants

Buy cranberry plants from Lubera

When you buy large-fruited cranberry plants (Vaccinium macrocarpon), you have the possibility to cover the ground with the flat growth of these plants and in addition to that, you can welcome a new, useful and healthy variety into the berry fruit garden

   
 
   
 

More information about cranberry plants

Cranberry plants (botanical name Vaccinium macrocarpon) belong in every bog bed. They are also called large-fruited cranberries. If you buy cranberry plants, you can also cultivate them as a hanging plant in a hanging basket or balcony box, or as an underplanting to a rhododendron or blueberry in a container. Please always use sustainably acidic bog soil.

Buying cranberry plants - the advantages of Vaccinium macrocarpon

  • Cranberries are a perfect ground cover plant for bog beds and containers of acid-loving ornamental plants.
  • Cranberries work better in the garden than other comparable wild plants such as wild blueberries and cranberries. Above all, they can withstand more moisture.
  • Cranberries are problem-free and easy to care for - when they are in acidic soil.

The aroma of cranberriesCranberry plants Red Balloon Lubera

The ripe, all-round red to dark-red looking fruits have a tart, fresh aroma. It is difficult to put it into words, but the astringency of cranberries is even more noticeable than that of lingonberries, although it is well balanced with a little sugar and aroma. Most varieties of cranberries are mild enough to be eaten raw, but otherwise, the fruit, together with a low-acid fruit in the dessert or as a smoothie, make a fine and extremely refreshing composition. Jellies and jams are probably one of the best uses, as with bitter orange marmalade, the slightly astringent cranberry spread increases the appetite for the next slice.

The difference between cranberries

Vaccinium macrocarpon is often mistaken for its European cranberries cousins that have become too large. It is true that cranberries are often found on the shelves of shops as 'cultivated cranberries', but from a botanical point of view, this is completely wrong. Lingonberries (botanical vitis-idaea), as a member of the Vaccinium family, have a very close relationship to cranberries but are by no means identical to them in terms of origin, appearance, size and taste. Lingonberries are a European species, the cranberries or bearberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon) originate from North America. However, the overseas cranberries also have European cousins: the bog cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccus) or small cranberry, which can also be found in Northern Germany. In contrast to these, the American cranberries are called 'Grossfrüchtige Moosbeeren' in German.

However, it has not yet been possible to domesticate these European bog cranberries; they die extremely frequently in the garden or when propagated, and they are also very sensitive to soil-borne diseases outside their natural habitat. We ourselves (Lubera) have been experimenting with the bog cranberry for a few years, but then abandoned it. Its American cousin, the large-fruited cranberry is simply much more robust; it has stronger and longer growing shoots, the fruits are much larger and more aromatic, the plants are more fertile and altogether much more robust. With the common cranberry and the lingonberry, root rot, unfortunately, occurs in many garden locations. Both species (lingonberries) and cranberries are suitable as an underplanting for cultivated blueberries or azaleas or rhododendrons, but the lingonberries grow more upright and bushy. Cranberries are the better ground cover plants with long shoots, which can be further rooted, and with a very flat growth of at most 20-25 cm.

What is the difference between large-fruited cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) and bog cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccos)?

The large-fruited cranberry originates from the eastern and northeastern part of the United States; the bog cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccos) comes from Europe and is a well-known heather plant. Both grow very flat, the common cranberry even flatter. The European variety has very fine shoots, almost like threads. The flowers and fruits are similar, but so is the taste. However, the bog cranberry has never really been domesticated; it has smaller berries and also a much smaller yield than the large-fruited cranberry, the Vaccinium macrocarpon cranberry, which is not called large-fruited for nothing. Actually, Vaccinium oxycoccus is hardly a suitable garden plant, as it grows healthily and sustainably almost only in its natural habitat.

Origin and history of the cultivation of cranberry plants

Cranberry plants, which belong to the heather family, originate in northeastern part of the United States (Massachusetts, New Jersey and neighbouring states) and are today cultivated mainly in Oregon, Washington State and in Canada. Cranberries are now enjoying growing popularity in this country. In countries where the shrubs are cultivated on a large scale, we are dealing with a probably unique peculiarity during the harvest: the fields with the cranberry plants are completely flooded, after which the berries are mechanically separated from the bushes with a rotor and water vortex, so that the berries, equipped with small air cushions, float on the water surface and only have to be collected mechanically. Cranberries are indeed small balloons, at least in the water.
Promising cultivation trials of this species are now also being conducted in Germany, Poland, Russia, the Netherlands and the Baltic States. To this day, in New England, in the northeastern part of the United States, a great many cranberries are also harvested in natural locations. 

Cranberry plants are sustainable

Here is another invaluable advantage of the easy-care cranberry plants: once planted in the ground, they can grow up to 100 years and older and bear fruit every year, which is ready for harvest between November and April. The long shoots that grow along the ground always take root again, especially if you press them into the ground by hand, and so the plant constantly rejuvenates and expands itself. It is a kind of plant perpetual motion machine that keeps on growing and living. In almost all garden locations, however, there is no need to be afraid that the large-fruited cranberries will become invasive and grow out of their beds, as they absolutely need a bog bed and will not grow in normal garden soil with a pH of 6 to 7.5. 

The name of the cranberries

The name for the large-fruited cranberry means 'craneberry' and goes back to the 'Pilgrim Fathers', who in 1620 compared the filaments of the new cranberries with the shape of a crane's head or beak and named the plant after them.

Growth characteristics and vegetation cycle in the garden

As a tendril-forming ground cover, cranberry bushes rarely grow higher than 25 to 30 centimetres, making them ideal for planting under blueberries in the garden. Cranberry plants do not develop their own root hairs, but a very fine-meshed network of mycorrhiza fungi. Outwardly striking are the oval, evergreen leaves with their leathery, waxy appearance, which only begin to fall off the plant after several years. In the course of spring, the leaf axes of the already quite long tendrils develop around three to eight centimetre long, upright shoots. From summer/autumn onwards, the flower buds are placed in front of them, which then sprout from the following spring onwards and form one to five, whitish pink individual flowers. The time of full flowering of the cranberry plants in the garden begins in June - long after the frosts. This may be related to the fact that spring frosts are also possible very late in their area of distribution in the northeastern part of the United States. The first pear and olive-shaped berries are now beginning to grow from 30 to 50 per cent of this wonderful flowering splendour. Later, they will grow to a diameter of between 10 and 25 millimetres. The fruits, which are somewhat acidic and resemble lingonberries, ripen almost evenly in the garden between the beginning of September and the end of October, depending on the variety of cranberry. 

Soil preparation and location for cranberries

If you want to harvest these large-fruited and aromatic berries, you must give the plants an acidic soil (pH value between 4 and 5) and note that cranberries do not like waterlogged locations in the garden. When you buy cranberry plants, you should offer the plant an airy spot with full sun or a little shade over lunchtime. This will promote the formation of flowers as well as later well-ripened, large fruity and tasty berries. In the case of ground cover plants whose tendrils rest directly on the ground, as with cranberry plants, the entire area must be carefully prepared before planting. When planting in the garden, therefore, take the trouble to loosen the soil to a depth of 15 to 20 cm and additionally refine it with a mixture of unfertilised, moist raw peat (or peat substitutes), rotten bark mulch or needle litter and a little sand. All ingredients should be well moistened. As an alternative, and to ensure permanent cultivation, cranberry plants can also be cultivated in containers or sufficiently large pots.

Planting cranberries

For new plantings in the garden, two to three-year-old potted plants are best suited - here in our shop you can buy such cranberry plants. Seven to nine of these plants produce a wonderful amount of healthy fruit after only a few years and, with ideal soil and proper care, a beautifully dense cranberry meadow. If you buy cranberry plants and plant them at a distance of about 30 cm, the soil will be completely covered after only two years; if you plant them at a distance of 50 cm, it will take two years longer. You are also welcome to cover some of the long shoots with a little soil so that a new offshoot and shrub can grow there quickly. If possible, plant the container plants in the pot ball in such a way that they are flush with the adjacent soil at the top or are very lightly covered. After you have compacted the soil a little, water thoroughly to ensure that the plant has a proper root connection.
If you do this, we recommend using slow-release fertilisers again in June, especially in the 1st and 2nd year, to compensate for the blockage of nitrogen due to the decomposition process of the mulch layer.

Use of the cranberry plants in the garden

Here is a tip on possible cultivation: the evergreen ground cover is by no means only suitable for use in berry orchards. Thanks to their metre-long tendrils, cranberry plants are an excellent match for the banks of ponds, for balcony boxes and as hanging plants above palisades they are a real eye-catcher in any house garden, no matter how small. Cranberry plants are worth buying for pleasure on the one hand and as a beautiful ornamental plant in the garden on the other. 

Cultivate cranberry plants in a pot

To construct an artificial bog bed in the garden is quite complex. It is much easier to fill a pot or container with bog soil and plant large-fruited cranberries there. There is no way around the use of bog soil. The use of supposed and cheap substitutes does not work. Because of their flat growth, cranberries are used in pots or containers as ground cover, e.g. underneath a large-fruited blueberry or rhododendron. Cranberries cultivated in hanging baskets are also often seen with their shoots hanging nicely over the edges of the pot, forming flowers in June and showing attractive fruit in autumn.

Fertilisation, cutting and care of cranberry plants

In a private allotment garden, additional fertiliser applications are usually not due after the 1-3 starting years. However, if the pH value is exceeded or undercut, the soil properties must be readjusted with our ‘Frutilizer® Instant Blue’ fertiliser in any case. If yield and growth are poor, it is best to use our slow-release fertiliser ‘Frutilizer® Seasonal Fertiliser Plus’, which also has a slightly acidic effect. Please do not use a so-called berry fertiliser.
The target soil values for the cultivation of cranberry bushes in relation to 100 per cent dry matter of the soil are as follows:

  • Nitrogen: 0.90 to 1.0 percent
  • Potassium: 0.50 to 0.90 per cent
  • Magnesium: 0.16 to 0.20 percent
  • Phosphorus: 0.14 to 0.18 per cent
  • Calcium: 0.31 to 0.60 percent

Cutting is not necessary when caring for these berry bushes. At best, the only thing that remains over the years is the removal of tendrils that were accidentally damaged when harvesting the fruit. As already mentioned above, the planting renews itself independently, so to speak, by creating new offshoots and the drying or rotting of old shoots that are connected to the mother plant.

Berry harvest and its further use

Harvesting large-fruited berries close to the ground may require maximum performance from your back muscles and spine, but thanks to the many valuable ingredients for the health of your family it is definitely worth it. Only in very few cases will it be possible to flood the domestic cranberry planting in the home garden, loosen the berries from the bush with a sharp jet of water and then gather them on the water surface.

100 grams of fresh, large-fruited cranberries contain the following on average:

Energy

218 kJ/52 kcal

Water

86.5-88 g

Protein

0.20 - 0.40 g

Fat

0.20 - 0.40 g

Kohlenhydrate

3.93 - 4.20 g

Vitamin C

7.5 - 13.5 mg

Vitamin A

40 I.E.

Potassium

53 - 71 mb

Calcium

7 - 13 mg

Magnesium

5.5 mg

Phosphorus

7.5 - 10.5 mg

Iron

0.2 - 0.4 mg

Sodium

1.0 - 2.0 mg

Iodine

0.005 mg

Anthocyanin

25 - 100 mg

Total Acid

2.10 - 2.86 g


All in all, cranberries are among the healthiest berry types of all and can be used in every household. When you buy cranberry plants, you can harvest the superfood yourself instead of buying it from an expensive store. In competition with the no less popular, but in the home garden somewhat more difficult lingonberries, the harvest of Vaccinium macrocarpon can be eaten raw, processed into fruity nectar or juice, tasty jams and compote, but the power fruits are also excellent as a fruitcake topping or as an addition to ice cream.

Cranberries know almost no expiry date

The fruits of cranberry plants have an extremely long shelf life so that you can look forward to a continuous supply of berries rich in vitamins for several months, assuming that they are optimally stored between autumn and winter. And even after harvesting in the garden towards winter, you can keep large-fruited cranberries dew-fresh in the refrigerator for up to eight weeks. In the event that a berry remains here and there on the plant even after harvesting, cranberries adorn their shrubs until well into the coming spring. During the frost periods in the winter, there is no risk of damage from the cold. However, if the temperatures fall below zero degrees Celsius for budding in the spring, we recommend buying a suitable protective fleece for the garden and attaching it to the cranberry plants or at least keeping it ready.

Cranberries are healthy

The health effects are based on various mechanisms, but the antioxidant effects of vitamin C and various bitter substances and phenols are certainly the most important. Cranberries are also said to have an excellent effect against bladder and urinary tract diseases. This health property has given cranberry drinks, which you can buy in packs in any supermarket, their current popularity. 
 

 

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