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There’s a lot to like about this flowering edible shrub. The deciduous American Cranberry bush is hardy, maintenance-free, adaptable, and it adds attractive year-round interest to your landscape.
Native to North America, this sizeable ornamental sports dense upright branches that grow into a full mounded form. Vibrant deep green leaves occur in opposite pairs that are 3-lobed and somewhat resemble maple leaves.
Springtime brings an abundance of flat, cream-colored flowers in broad groupings that have a lacy and delicate appearance. Clusters of plump berries follow, starting out green and turning yellow-orange and finally bright scarlet by fall.
As autumn approaches, American Cranberry’s outstanding emerald green leaves begin turning gorgeous shades of orange, crimson and burgundy. Once the leaves begin dropping, the fire-engine red berries become even more visible, creating a dazzling display.
If allowed to remain, these stunning bunches of berries will hang on the shrub through the winter. This not only offers radiant warm color to an often monochromatic and frosty landscape, but also provides a much-welcomed nosh for birds and small mammals when food sources are in short supply.
Maturing to heights of 5-6 feet with a similar spread, the American Cranberry bush can be planted in rows and clipped to take shape as a stunning privacy hedge. With its upright and naturally rounded shape, this shrub can be grown in small groupings for accent, or used as a specimen plant to set off the corners of your home.
Thriving in zones 2-7, the American Cranberry bush grows nearly anywhere in the country. It does well in full sun or shade and prefers a well-drained soil rich in natural matter to help retain ample moisture. The American Cranberry bush should not be allowed to dry out for extended periods of time.
Feed with a balanced fertilizer once a year, if desired, and apply a 2-4 inch layer of organic mulch around the base of the shrub to protect against cold and keep the soil moist. Thinning out older stems, along with a bit of strategic trimming will rejuvenate the plant and help maintain its desired size and shape.
Cranberries contain bacteria-blocking compounds that aid in promoting urinary tract health that help ward off ulcers and certain oral bacteria that can lead to gum disease. In addition, cranberries contain phytochemicals, or health-promoting benefits that reduce oxidative destruction of cells, which can lead to cancer, heart disease and other degenerative diseases.
These low-sodium berries are cholesterol- and fat-free, so try them dried as a sweet ‘anytime’ snack, whip up a batch of delicious jam, or press them to make a tasty juice. Of course, you should try your hand at some fresh Cranberry sauce to accompany your Thanksgiving turkey or roasted chicken any time of the year.
Besides the great health benefits and sweet taste, Cranberries are great for crafters to own. During the fall and winter holidays, you can cleverly incorporate Cranberries into your home decor for very little cost. The vibrant red berries and rich green leaves are an inexpensive and eye pleasing addition to existing wreaths, swags and bouquets.
For questions about the American Cranberry bush, or any of our other fantastic plants and trees, don’t hesitate to contact us. Let our knowledgeable staff assist you with your next landscaping project.