The Q&A Archives: Why Is My Dwarf European Cranberry Stunted?

Question: I planted six 24" Dwarf European Cranberry on the west side of my home last spring. They are planted in a row in a mixture of decayed horse manure and decayed sawdust mixed with the original soil. A root stimulator fertilizer was applied at the time of planting and was watered 1" weekly throughout the summer drought. The outer edge of the leaves remained brown and curled and there was never any evidence of new growth the entire growing season.
Your suggestions on the causes and remedy would greatly be appreciated.

Answer: In answering this I am assuming your shrubs are a dwarf form of the European Cranberrybush Viburnum. This shrub is tolerant of many soil conditions but actually prefers a moister soil -- in the wild it grows in wet or boggy soil. In the case of new plants, water is be critical to quick establishment and healthy growth. These shrubs grow very slowly and that fact, combined with the drought conditions, could explain why they didn't grow at all and why there was leaf damage. Under drought conditions the water may wick away into the surrounding soil thus meaning an inch a week is not enough. The only way to tell is to check the soil by digging down into it to see if it is moist or dry in the root zone. Finally, it is possible they did not root very well into the soil, perhaps due to being pot bound or improper planting technique; again, the only way to tell is to dig down carefully and see. For the time being I suggest making sure the soil is moist up until it freezes, then keeping it quite moist again for the coming growing season until the shrubs are well established, at which point you could back off to normal watering as needed. Also, a layer of several inches of organic mulch year round is always a good idea in terms of moderating soil temperature and moisture levels.

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