How to Propagate Highbush Cranberry (Viburnum trilobum)

How to propagate Highbush Cranberry (Viburnum trilobum) zone 2 perennial shrub

This guide is meant to teach you how to propagate Highbush Cranberry (Viburnum trilobum) and hopefully, make it easier for you to sell them at your own nursery.

Hardiness Zone: 2-7

Soil Type: Well-drained loam, sand, clay

Water: Low to Average. Fair Drought Resistance

Exposure: Full to Partial Sun

Highbush cranberry is a hardy zone 2 perennial shrub native to eastern North America. This shrub produces bright red fruits in late summer that attract and feed birds through winter.

Viburnum leaves are ovate-shaped with 3-lobed, serrated margins. The leaves grow on the stems in a simple structure in an opposite arrangement.

In June, beautiful white flowers spring up and attract all sorts of pollinators.

Fun fact: Highbush cranberry is actually not a true cranberry at all, even if the fruits resemble cranberries in appearance and taste.

Viburnum trilobum is a great hedge plant to make screens in between properties. Its bright red fruits stay on the shrub for most of the winter and can bring beautiful red contrast when it begins to snow.

Best Way to Propagate Highbush Cranberry

Method: Cuttings

A great method to propagate highbush cranberry is by taking cuttings. For viburnum, you want to get cuttings about 5-8cm long each.

  • Softwood cuttings: Early summer, planted in a sandy frame (box with screen for shade and humidity retention).
  • Half-ripe wood cuttings: Cut in July/August with a heel (kinda like when you rip a branch off and part of the bark comes with it). You can plant in a propagation bed under full sun, kept humid by automatic sprayers.

Propagating highbush cranberry by cuttings is the easiest and most efficient way to propagate. Since it’s a common plant in nurseries and garden centers, the best thing to do is just buy some plants there and propagate them at home.

Method: Sowing

Outdoors: Sow highbush cranberry seeds in the spring in moist, loam soil. This year’s seeds will naturally go through stratification and germinate next spring.

Indoors: Imitate the natural stratification the seeds get outside by first keeping them warm for 6 months. Second, keep the seeds in moist paper towels, put them inside a zip lock bag, and label them. Third, store them in the fridge for roughly 90-120 days. Keep an eye on them, they may sprout in the fridge by themselves. Afterward, sow them in humid, loam soil.

Online, you can buy highbush cranberry seeds at incredibleseeds.

How to Ready Highbush Cranberry for Sale

Highbush cranberry cuttings that you propagate this year will root all summer long, but they won’t be ready for individual potting until the next spring.

Make sure to cover your propagation bed during winter with tunnels to prevent frost damage.

Early summer the next year, they will have a strong enough root system to pot individually.

At this point, pot them up in well-drained, nutrient-rich loam, and place them full sun in your nursery.

Prune the main stems 2-3 times during the summer to allow the plants to grow into beautiful bush shapes.


For more detailed information on viburnum propagation, check out our parent article:

How to Propagate Viburnum