Lingonberries/Cranberries in Southeast/Mid-Atlantic?

shazaam(NC 7B)December 16, 2013

Has anyone in the mid-atlantic or southeast tried growing cranberries or lingonberries? While I think of both as cold climate fruits, I've seen a few things that suggest that they might be possible to grow this far south (I'm in NC).

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I have wondered the same for several years and not only with these 2 but also honeyberry (Lonicera) and seaberry. I have heard from a couple folks, one in MD and the other in VA that they have had no luck. My take is all 4 of these are not adapted to the mid Atlantic or southeast. If your located in a high elevation in NC it might be worth a try. I have read that lingonberry is slightly more heat tolerant than cranberry.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2013 at 3:07PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

I didn't have luck with cranberries. I tried in sun, part shade and full shade and they didn't take anywhere.


    Bookmark   December 16, 2013 at 10:38PM
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I am in Northern VA and I planted two honeyberry plants last spring in a part sun/part shade area. The first year they did not grow much. I may have planted them too deep. I will evaluate this year and if they seem not to be doing well, I will dig them up and replant more shallowly.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 8:13AM
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shazaam(NC 7B)

What really got me thinking about cranberry was Indiana Berry's suggestion that "it can be grown as far south as Virginia and North Carolina." Like you mentioned, shane11, the mild summers at higher elevations would probably be a bitter fit, and that's probably what they have in mind. It sounds like you gave them a good try, Scott, so if cranberries won't grow in MD I probably shouldn't waste time and space here in NC. I should probably stay away from Lingonberries, as well, but I appreciate the comments on honeyberries. I've considered them off and on for a couple of years, but, if I'm determined to try a berry bush that's marginal for my climate, honeyberry might be the best option of the three.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 11:38AM
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I'm in Raleigh NC and I grow Cranberry without any special treatment. I can't get Lingonberries to make it though. Cranberries are native to NC but rare. You don't have to keep cranberries wet, they'll grow in normal garden moisture but they have to have very acid soil. They also don't like weeds and they can be difficult to keep weeded. 'Pilgrim' grows the best for me but it has the smallest berries. I bought my plants at Edible Landscaping in Afton VA (about 4.5 hours north of Raleigh).

Honeyberries don't do so well for me. They stay alive but give very little fruit (which are very sour and harsh tasting).

Goji's aren't worth the trouble either. Lots of rambling around with very tiny berries that taste a lot like kerosene.

Goumis do well for me. Bushes get kinda big and when they have fruit they have a ton of fruit. The flavor isn't everybodies favorite but I love them. Kinda like a cherry mixed with cranberry.

Some bush cherries do okay, they suffer from brown rots and some sort of virus down here. It never kills the bush but the fruit will be oddly shaped. They are very cute when in bloom, like miniature fruit trees. The fruit taste more like a wild plum than a cherry except right before they fall off the bush.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 9:55PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

I was thinking about Goumi too, good choice. Another is possibly certain currants. Like Golden or clove, or other CA native currants and gooseberries.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 10:54PM
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shazaam(NC 7B)

Your experience with cranberries is encouraging, trianglejohn. Since you're nearby and honeyberries haven't done much for you, perhaps cranberries should go back to the head of the line. Are yours in full sun or do they get some shade? On the subject of goumi, have any of your named varieties ever produced seedlings? I tossed a few damaged Sweet Scarlet berries on the ground earlier this year, and now I have two or three very vigorous seedlings.

I'd love to grow currants and gooseberries, Drew, but it's illegal to grow any and all Ribes in NC due to the role that some play in the spread of white pine blister rust. I've seen no indication that the law is actively enforced, though, and I know that some folks do grow them.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 11:08AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

In Michigan we cannot grow any that are not resistant. red, white and pink currants cannot get the pine rust, so no restrictions at all on them. Many black currants are now resistant. We are allowed to grow them. We do have lot's of white pine here. Raintree offers many resistant cultivars. But they will not ship to your state I'm sure.
It's hard to get a change in the law as so few care about growing them. Our laws were changed some time ago. Some other states have the same restrictions you do.
Here we have a large blueberry crop and restrict many cultivars, but usually approve them in time. Recently Sweetheart was approved, hoping Hanna's and Cara's choice are soon approved. All are from the same breeder. Darrow is not allowed here. Not sure why? Finding that out seems near impossible! But it's been on the list a long time, so no chance of it being approved. Most are allowed, no problem there. Sweetcrisp and Southmoon are allowed. Ones I plan on purchasing for next season.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 11:48AM
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My cranberries are in full sun. I followed the advice on Edible Landscaping website about soil mix for them. I grow them in low plastic tubs to keep the soil mix separate from my garden soil. The "vines" ramble out into the surrounding mulch. A very pretty plant. It should be used more as a ground cover around here except for the not liking any competition from weeds.

Other people around here are happy with their honeyberries. My bushes stay very small and I might get one handful of fruit from them.

I also have Aronia 'Viking' and 'Nero' - very showy plants but the berries are mighty harsh tasting. You have to mix in a lot of sugar to make them eatable. Heavy producers though.

Elderberries do well here but I'm not a big fan of the flavor - tastes like cough syrup to me. But they keep the birds happy.

No seedling Goumi's around mine and I spit a lot of seeds out when they're fruiting. I have one with extra large berries. It was miss-labeled so I have no idea what cultivar it is. It doesn't make as many berries but the fruit is 3 to 4 times larger than Sweet Scarlet or Red Gem. Flavor is the same.

I grow just about anything listed in the catalogs - a very experimental garden.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 2:42PM
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You should be able to grow them in 7B, some even 8B. Just remember to grow them like blueberries.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 8:25PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

John, I wonder if the variety of cranberry is a factor. I tried two different kinds but they didn't have variety names on them so I don't know what they were. I used acidic peaty soil. Over the years I have heard about 90% failure reports with cranberries in the Mid-Atlantic and I have not figured out what the 10% having success were doing differently.


    Bookmark   December 18, 2013 at 9:47PM
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'Pilgrim' has had no problems for me so far - I've only grown them for the last three years. Two of the summers were very hot and very dry - last summer wasn't at all. The other two types I have came from Edible Landscaping (I got the Pilgrim from a local nursery). I don't remember their names but they are alive but not as fast of a grower as the Pilgrim. They have grocery store sized berries whereas the Pilgrim has green pea sized fruit.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 9:11AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

I could keep them alive for three years but that was about it. I didn't water them much, maybe that would have helped my odds.


    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 1:58PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Everybody has failures. i was just watching the latest Dave Wilson Nursery video and Tom Spellman is giving up on figs. Well in that spot anyway!

Here is a link that might be useful: Winter Orchard Tour

    Bookmark   December 19, 2013 at 2:39PM
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Cranberries grow native and wild in the freshwater peat marshes of Dare County in eastern NC, and in full sun.

I've seen them on the huge bombing range there.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2013 at 7:40PM
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I'm in central VA (east of the Blueridge) and I've managed to grow Howes cranberries to limited success. This was their first full year in the ground. I ordered mine from Cranberry Creations and got larger fruiting plants last fall. Mine overwintered and fruited this year. However, the problems came this summer. I was away from home for most of the summer and they got overrun with weeds. As stated before, they don't like weeds. Then in August, the summer rains let up and it got real dry. While cranberries don't have to grow in water, the do need to constantly be in a moist soil/sand mix. The problem was that I had planted them in a mixture that was too high in sand, which dried out quickly during our August - September dry spell. Both plants lost their fruit and one is currently recovering while the other is pretty beat up. I think both plants will make it through the winter, though I am not hopeful for any fruit this coming year as they lost so many upright vines, which is where the fruit is produced. I think the fact that I got larger, fruiting plants was key. Cranberry Creations sells very large plants compared to other outlets which sell much smaller plants. The large one established easier and since they weren't as young, they were able to take more of a beating from the summer heat/weeds.

Takeaway points:
1) get the sand/soil (or peat) combination right. Don't overdo the sand or they will dry out.
2) Put down a pre-emergent to prevent crabgrass and other weeds.
3) Keep them constantly moist throughout the summer.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2014 at 4:28PM
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shazaam(NC 7B)

Thanks for the advice, lateriser, and thanks for bringing Cranberry Creations to my attention. I added one Stevens Cranberry to my Indiana Berry order, and I'm on the fence as to whether I'm going to buy a second plant this year or wait to see how this one does. If I do buy another, then CC sounds like a good source.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2014 at 8:16PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

I have $7.50 in free items coming from Raintree, and the only thing that fit that was a highbush cranberry. It's really not a cranberry, but it's free, so that works! I'll put it at my cottage.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2014 at 9:38PM
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Honeyberries do very well in at least the northern part of the south - Berries Unlimited, one of the largest commercial growers of honeyberries, is based in Prairie Grove, AR in zone 6B. Ligonberries and cranberries don't seem to tolerate our heat & humidy.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 10:09AM
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