After you’ve pushed your chair back with a contented sigh following a Thanksgiving feast of turkey and cranberry sauce, have you ever wondered how to propagate cranberries? Okay, maybe it’s just me that’s drifting with satiated musings regarding propagating cranberries after the glut of the holiday dinner, but really, how do cranberry plants reproduce? If you, too, are interested in cranberry propagation, read on to find out useful information on reproducing cranberries.
How Do Cranberry Plants Reproduce?
Cranberries do, of course, have seeds, but sowing seeds isn’t the usual method for cranberry propagation. Usually, cuttings or seedlings are used for reproducing cranberries. That isn’t to be said that propagating via seed can’t be done. Sowing cranberries from seed just requires patience and perseverance, as they can take anywhere from three weeks to several months to germinate.
How to Propagate Cranberries
If you want to propagate cranberries using cuttings or seedlings, remember that the plant will not start to fruit until it’s about three years old. So, if you want to get a jumpstart on fruit, purchase a three year old seedling whenever possible. Cranberries like a soil pH of 4.5 to 5.5. Have your soil tested to see if you are within these parameters. If you need to increase the acidity of your soil, use a soil acidifier. Don’t plant cranberries in areas of heavy or poorly draining soils. Choose a site with full sun, excellent drainage, and fertile soil. Cranberry roots are quite shallow, only 6 inches (15 cm.) deep or so. If need be, amend the soil with organic matter such as dehydrated cow manure, compost, or peat moss. Space one year old plants about a foot (31 cm.) apart and larger three year seedlings 3 feet (1 m.) apart. Don’t install the plants too deep; the crown should be at soil level. If the cranberry is bare root, plant it at the same depth it was grown in the nursery. If it is potted, plant it at the same depth it was in the pot. If you plant in the spring, give the cranberry a dose of fertilizer; if in the fall, wait until the successive spring. Water the new cranberry in well and keep it moist but not sodden.
Propagating a Cranberry from Seed
Fill a 4 inch (10 cm.) pot with lime free sterilized growing medium. Firm the soil down and transfer the pot or pots to a watering tray that is deep enough to hold a couple of inches (5 cm.) of water. Fill the tray with enough water to allow the pots to soak up enough to become moist. Pack down the soil again and discard any remaining water in the tray. Poke two or three holes in each pot and drop two cranberry seeds into each hole. Cover them with a little of the growing medium. Place the pot(s) in an area that remains 65 to 70 degrees F. (18-21 C.) for four weeks in bright, but indirect sunlight. Keep the growing media moist. After four weeks, transfer the pot(s) to a cooler area with temperatures of 25 to 40 degrees F. (-4 to 4 C.) for six more weeks. This cooling off period will jumpstart germination. Be sure to keep the pots slightly damp. After six weeks, move the pot(s) to another area where temperatures are a consistent 40 to 55 degrees F. (4-13 C.). Leave the pot(s) to germinate at this temperature, keeping them slightly moist. Germination will take as little as three weeks at this juncture to up to several months.
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Amy Grant has been gardening for 30 years and writing for 15. A professional chef and caterer, Amy's area of expertise is culinary gardening.
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