The Cranberry is a native shrub that produces the red cranberries that are so widely used in deserts, cranberry sauce and juice. Vaccinium macrocarpon is native to bogs, swamps, and wet shorelines in parts of northern and eastern North America. It is a low-growing vine or trailing shrub (to 6" tall and spreading) with small, glossy leaves. Small, nodding flowers with white to pink, recurved petals bloom from late spring into early summer. The flowers are followed by plump, red to dark purple, ovoid to round, 0.5" diameter fruits. The leaves of this plant are a larval food source for the bog copper butterfly, the flowers are visited by bees, and the fruits are eaten by birds and occasionally small mammals. Grow in the fruit or vegetable garden for the food crop. Ornamentally, may be grown as a small scale ground cover for sunny areas or in the shrub or mixed border in front of other acid-loving plants such as azaleas and rhododendrons. Best grown in damp to boggy, acidic (pH 4.0-5.2), organically rich, well-drained soil in full sun. Hardy in zones 3-7.
Growing Instructions for the Cranberry
The seeds have a period of dormancy. They can be planted outdoors in the fall or winter for spring germination or they can be cold stratified to simulate winter conditions and to break their dormancy at any time of the year. 1. Place the seeds in a plastic bag and seal it. Store the bag in a refrigerator for 3 months. 2. The seeds like moist soil. Plant the seeds in a rich peat-based starting mixture. Cranberries like acidic soils and peat helps to mimic their natural environment. Keep them warm, around 70 degrees and the cranberry seeds should sprout in about 3 weeks, but sometimes it can take much longer. Be patient, and keep the soil moist but not soggy. 3. The seedlings can be transplanted when they are a few inches tall.