Once purely decorative, container gardens are now pulling double duty, designed to be both aesthetic and functional. Dwarf fruit trees, vegetables, herbs and berry producing plants like cranberries are now being added to multi-functional container designs. You may be thinking: hold on a minute, potted cranberry plants? Don’t cranberries grow in large bogs? Can you grow cranberries in a pot? Let’s learn more about growing cranberries in containers.
Can You Grow Cranberries in a Pot?
Not every gardener has the luxury of a huge yard to fill with plants. With so many amazing plants on the market these days, even those who do have large gardens may eventually run out of space. Lack of gardening space oftentimes leads to gardeners to try their hand at container gardening. In days of old, container plantings were generally the standard design which included a spike for height, a filler such as geranium and a trailing plant like ivy or sweet potato vine. While this classic, reliable “thriller, filler and spiller” container design is still very popular, gardeners these days are trying out all sorts of different plants in containers.
Cranberries are low growing, evergreen plants that are native to North America. They grow wild throughout parts of Canada and the United States. They are an important commercial crop in many states. In the wild, they grow in swampy, boggy areas and cannot tolerate hot, dry climates. Hardy in zones 2-7, cranberry plants grow best in acidic soil with a pH of 4.5-5.0. If the right conditions are provided, cranberries can be grown in the home garden or containers.
A beautiful yet functional plant, cranberries spread prolifically by runners. Their flowers and fruits grow on upright canes once the plants are 3 years old. In the wild or in garden beds, canes die back after a year or two of producing berries, but new canes continually shoot up from runners as they take root. Potted cranberry plants do not usually have the room to produce these runners and new canes, so cranberries in pots will need to be replanted every few years.
Caring for Container Grown Cranberry Plants
Because of their spreading habit, it is recommended to plant cranberries in pots that are 12-15 inches (30-38 cm.) or more in diameter. Cranberries have shallow roots that only extend about 6 inches (15 cm.) into the soil, so container depth is not as important as the width.
Cranberries also grow well in trough style planters or window boxes. Being bog plants, container grown cranberry plants need soil that is consistently moist. Self-watering containers have a water reservoir from which water is constantly wicked up in to the soil, these containers work extremely well for potted cranberry plants.
Cranberries in pots grow best in rich organic material or peat moss. They can also be planted in potting mixes for acid-loving plants. Soil pH should be tested at least once a year in spring. A slow release acidic fertilizer can be applied in spring to adjust the pH and correct any nutrient deficiencies. However, low nitrogen fertilizers are better for cranberry plants. They will also benefit from an annual addition of bone meal.