Growing Cranberries at Home in Beds or Containers

Updated on February 3, 2013
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

Growing cranberries in the home garden is fun, and pretty easy.
Growing cranberries in the home garden is fun, and pretty easy. | Source

Most home gardeners don't think about growing cranberries in their home gardens but it can be done. If you live in a region where they flourish, cranberries can be grown in beds or in containers without too much trouble.

The cranberry grows only on the continent of North America. It can be found from eastern Canada down to North Carolina and as far west as Minnesota. This evergreen plant is a great addition to your home garden.

In the wild cranberry plants grow in damp bogs and swampy areas. It is a self pollinating ground cover that grows two different ways. Runners can cause the plant to spread out as much as two feet per growing season. Upright canes grow up from the runners and produce the flowers and fruit.

Large, commercial fields of cranberries are harvested by flooding the field with water. The cranberries float on the surface and are scooped up for market. Once the cranberries are harvested the water is let out of the field.

Harvesting Cranberries

Growing Cranberries in the Home Garden

Cranberries like a moderate climate that is not too hot or cold. They do best in zones two through five but can be grown as container plants in other areas.

Start with an Acidic Soil

Growing cranberries works best in an acidic, very fertile soil because the shallow root system only grows in the top six inches or so. The soil pH should be between 4.5 and 5.0. You can get the soil tested at the local agricultural extension service or at a local nursery.

Be sure that the soil had good drainage. Soggy roots do not grow healthy plants.

Plant Cranberries in the Fall

Cranberry plants should be planted in the fall. They can be planted any time through the early part of November. In the spring try to get the cranberry plants in the ground between April 15th and May 31st.


Bed Preparation and Planting

To prepare the bed fro growing cranberries you must dig a hole about eight inches deep. Line it with plastic that has holes poked into it to allow drainage. Add peat moss to fill the hole. Wet thoroughly. Continue adding peat moss and wetting it down until the hole is filled. If you have a clay soil you can leave off the plastic.

Now add the following mixture:

  • ½ part bone meal
  • 1 part rock phosphate
  • 1 part blood meal

Space year old plants one foot apart. Place the root ball so that it sits two inches below the surface of the ground level. Fill with the damp peat moss mixture. For best results keep the plants watered frequently. The soil should stay moist to the touch without being soaked. These year old plants should begin producing cranberries in about two to three years.

Growing Cranberries in Containers

You can also grow cranberries in containers but you will have to replace the plants every third year once they start producing fruit. Apply a fish emulsion at the rate of one-half gallon every month.

Tips for Homegrown Cranberries

  • Always prune the three year old uprights.
  • Add a layer of sand every two years or so.
  • Harvest before frost.
  • You can take softwood cuttings in the summer and root them for more plants.
  • For every square foot of cranberry bed you can expect to harvest about one pound of fruit.

Questions & Answers


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      • profile image

        Visar Brestovci 6 months ago

        Ok . I have two questions. First one how to identify three year old uprights for pruning? The second is should these softwood cuttings for propagating be taken from the runners or from the uprights?

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        Rebecca 6 years ago

        I'm really glad to find this, my cranberry patch here in Ketchikan, Alaska needs some rejuvenation and it's nice to see tried and true instructions :-).

      • profile image

        Cathy 6 years ago

        FYI - your University of Maine cranberry link is outdated.

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        selkiebug 6 years ago

        Ummm... cranberries grow a LOT farther west than Minnesota! I'll be refurbishing the old bog in my back yard next year -- a few miles away from the WESTERN most point of the continental U.S. Cape Blanco, OREGON.

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        cranguy 7 years ago

        I work at a cranberry marsh in warrens WI. And I would advise people to grow the berry in sand and not in soil. Also if there are cranberry grows near your area you can ask to by a few pounds of cut and bailed vines. If your planting lets say a 6 x 10 area they may just give you all the vines you need for free. All you have to do is spread them out where they are to be planted and use a strait hoe to push the cut pieces of vines into the sand so they6 stick straight up. You will also have to water them like crazy at first because you basically are cloning the vines or putting cut vines in the ground so they take root.

      • barb2082 profile image

        barb2082 8 years ago from Amsterdam/Chicago

        Hi Marye,

        Thanks for this hub, I'm among those people who never thought of growing Cranberries myself. So I'll give it a go, expect a new hub on cranberries next year:-) Thanks again, Barb

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        belfast maine 9 years ago

        Great Hub you have here :) Please check out my Belfast Maine website would love to network!

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        market solution 9 years ago

        I have never considered growing cranberries! I must admit, I am intrigued - though my success with container growing is definitely needing help. Interesting hub.

      • Jerilee Wei profile image

        Jerilee Wei 9 years ago from United States

        Great hub! I'll be bookmarking this one for my husband, as ke's been yakking at me for two years about growing cranberries.

      • Blackberry profile image

        Blackberry 9 years ago

        Nice hub.