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Growing Cranberries From Cuttings: Tips For Rooting Cranberry Cuttings

Growing Cranberries From Cuttings: Tips For Rooting Cranberry Cuttings


By: Amy Grant

Cranberries are not grown from seeds but rather from one-year-old cuttings or three-year-old seedlings. Sure, you can purchase cuttings and these will be a year old and have a root system, or you can try growing cranberries from unrooted cuttings that you have taken yourself. Rooting cranberry cuttings may require some patience, but for the dedicated gardener, that’s half the fun. Interested in trying your own cranberry cutting propagation? Read on to find out how to root cranberry cuttings.

About Cranberry Cutting Propagation

Remember that cranberry plants do not produce fruit until their third or fourth year of growth. If you choose to try rooting your own cranberry cuttings, be prepared to add another year onto this time frame. But, really, what’s another year?

When growing cranberries from cuttings, take the cuttings in the very early spring or in early July. The plant from which you take the cuttings should be well hydrated and healthy.

How to Root Cranberry Cuttings

Cut lengths that are 8 inches (20 cm.) in length using very sharp, sanitized shears. Remove flower buds and most of the leaves, leaving only the top 3-4 leaves.

Insert the cut end of the cranberry cutting into a nutrient rich, lightweight medium such as a mixture of sand and compost. Place the potted cutting in a warm shaded area in a greenhouse, frame, or propagator. Within 8 weeks, the cuttings should have rooted.

Harden the new plants off before planting them into a larger container. Grow them in the container for a full year before transplanting them into the garden.

In the garden, transplant the cuttings to two feet apart (1.5 m.). Mulch around the plants to help retain water and keep the plants regularly watered. Fertilize the plants for their first couple of years with a food that is high in nitrogen to encourage upright shoots. Every few years, cut out any dead wood and trim new runners to encourage berry production.

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How to Take Cuttings

Last Updated: September 6, 2019 References Approved

This article was co-authored by Lauren Kurtz. Lauren Kurtz is a Naturalist and Horticultural Specialist. Lauren has worked for Aurora, Colorado managing the Water-Wise Garden at Aurora Municipal Center for the Water Conservation Department. She earned a BA in Environmental and Sustainability Studies from Western Michigan University in 2014.

There are 12 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

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Growing plants from cuttings, also known as propagation, is a technique that gardeners use to grow new plants from older, healthy plants. It's great for increasing the number of plants that you have or taking your favorite plants from your garden with you when you move. To take cuttings for propagation, you'll need to select a stock plant, carefully take the cuttings, and properly plant the cuttings.


How to Grow Highbush Cranberry

The highbush cranberry plant, also called American cranberrybush, is a bush or shrub from the same family as the elderberry bush. The bush grows up to 15 feet in height and forms a rounded shape. Highbush cranberry bushes produce small white flowers that turn into bright red berry fruit. The fruit can be harvested for use in jelly or preserves. The bush is hardy to plant in USDA growing zones 2 through 7 because it over winters well in cold and harsh winter climates.

Select a planting location that offers a well-draining soil and full to part shade light conditions. The plant will grow in most soil types as long as there is no standing water.

  • The highbush cranberry plant, also called American cranberrybush, is a bush or shrub from the same family as the elderberry bush.
  • The plant will grow in most soil types as long as there is no standing water.

Plant the highbush cranberry in a hole that is the same height as the container it came in and slightly wider. Sprinkle bone meal into the hole and set the plant on top. Gently fill and pack the soil around the root ball.

Water the highbush cranberry plant generously after planting to stimulate root growth. Continue to water the plant regularly to keep the soil moist during the first growing season. Water the plant the following growing years when the weekly rainfall amount is less than one inch.

Apply a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch around the plants leaving a 3-inch gap between the stem of the plant and the start of the mulch area. This will assist with moisture retention and prevent weed growth that will compete with the plant.

  • Plant the highbush cranberry in a hole that is the same height as the container it came in and slightly wider.
  • Continue to water the plant regularly to keep the soil moist during the first growing season.

Fertilize the plant each year in the spring by mixing 1 inch of organic compost into the mulch application. Highbush cranberries do not require additional fertilizing through the growing season.

Prune the plant to remove old and thick branch growth. Cut and remove the branches at ground level instead of leaving stumps or small branch spikes on the stem of the plant. Heavy pruning on the highbush cranberry is not required.

Propagate the highbush cranberry plant by collecting ripe fruit and planting them immediately in soil outdoors. Highbush cranberry plants will take up to two years to germinate as they require a warm period followed by a cold dormant period and another warm period. The second warm period will initiate seed germination.


How to Grow Cranberries

Last Updated: November 18, 2020 References Approved

This article was co-authored by Andrew Carberry, MPH. Andrew Carberry has been working in food systems since 2008. He has a Masters in Public Health Nutrition and Public Health Planning and Administration from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

There are 18 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, several readers have written to tell us that this article was helpful to them, earning it our reader-approved status.

This article has been viewed 123,743 times.

Cranberries are a tart, red berry most commonly used in a variety of sauces, pies and juices. They are also a popular addition to salads and are eaten in dried form as a snack. In recent years, cranberries have also become well-known for their healing qualities, due in large part to their high concentration of vitamin C and antioxidants. Most commonly grown commercially, cranberries can also be grown at home. Start with Step 1 below to learn how to grow cranberries.


Crank up the Cranberry Goodness

There are so many delicious ways to use these healthy, nutritious berries.

And as long as you can fulfill those three conditions to keep them happy – chill hours, acidic soil, and plenty of water – you could soon have your own cranberry plants, with berries ready for harvest in time for next Thanksgiving.

Have you tried growing your own cranberries? If not, why? Let us know in the comments section below.

And for more information about growing fruit in your garden, check out these handy growing guides next:

© Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Revised and expanded from an original draft by Alexa Ward. Product photos via Arbico Organics, Bob Wells Nursery, Bonide, and Hirt’s Gardens. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock.

About Clare Groom

Clare Groom’s gardening experience ranges from tropical East Africa – where common crop pests included elephants as well as aphids – to growing a cottage garden in the Cotswolds, England. A writer from London, Clare retired from the high-octane world of professional financial futures trading to live a peaceful life in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand – and to pursue her love of words. When she's not writing and editing, she's chasing possums off her zucchini and renovating an old house in a small town – slowly, and not very surely.


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