Cranberries: Identifying and fighting diseases and pests

Cranberries: Identifying and fighting diseases and pests

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Cranberry bushes are actually very robust. Various farm animals and a special fungus can, however, be hard on the plant and in the worst case even lead to plant death.
Cranberries are basically very robust plants with few enemies. Almost no pests attack cranberries. Only birds and mice like the taste of the red fruit, which is often a burden for the hobby gardener.

Cranberries very rarely suffer from diseases. If they do get sick, a fungus is always to blame for the disease. The cranberry is immune to all other pathogens. Cranberries are most commonly attacked by so-called nude basidia. The rust fungus is also a common pathogen for cranberry bushes.

What are nude basidia?

Naked basidia belong to the mushroom family. Depending on the species, they affect the shoots of the leaves or the entire plant. There are 26 different types of nude basidia in Europe. Only three types attack the cranberries:

  • Exobasidium vaccinii - attacks the leaves
  • Exobasidium splendidum - attacks the shoots
  • Exobasidium juelianum - attacks the entire plant

Another type of mushroom that primarily attacks cranberries is the rust fungus. This form of mushroom is also very dangerous for crops.

How to recognize an infestation

Since fungi do not kill the plant but only weaken it very much, they are particularly insidious. Mushrooms multiply through spores. They penetrate the cells of the plant and can reproduce there indefinitely. Therefore, infection with fungi is particularly dangerous. Most of the time, the plants can no longer be saved.

Exobasidium vaccinii
A fungal infection is often not immediately recognizable. The fungus penetrates the plant and multiplies there. During this process, the leaves or shoots lose their beautiful green color and become pale. Later, when the mushrooms have multiplied, the leaves turn bright red. Nothing can be seen of the once dark green color. Most often the fungal infection is only now recognized.

Exobasidium splendidum
If the fungi attack the shoot, it also loses its color and later turns red. In addition, no new shoots form and the flowers are lost. The fruits of the shrub are no longer edible.

Exobasidium juelianum
If the disease has spread and all the leaves have a red color, fungal spores cause further problems. A thickening can be seen on the underside of the sheet. These pink galls will sooner or later be visible to the naked eye.

What to do in case of fungal attack?

After the fungi spread over spores, it is easy for them to infect many different plants very quickly. Since mushrooms are very aggressive in their approach, it is not possible to save the plant. The property of mushrooms is that they can specialize in one plant. They keep developing to become immune to as many fungicides as possible. As soon as the fungal infection is recognized, all infected plants must be disposed of. It is important that you dig them out of the bed and do not cut them off. Once the plant has caught a mushroom, it will never get rid of it.

Enemies of the cranberries, of course

Basically, cranberries have no enemies. Many hobby gardeners have no problem with some birds coming into the garden. After all, they drive away a lot of pests and eat worms and other insects. However, care should be taken to ensure that the birds do not eat all cranberries. After all, these are at the top of the menu list of many different bird species.

There are several ways to keep cranberries away from unwanted birds. The cranberry bushes can be covered with nets. It is best to use nets with small thumbtacks, e.g. this one here. But you can also set up a dummy of large birds or cats to keep unwanted guests away. As you often see in home gardens, CDs hang on many trees. These reflect the sun and the birds flash. Birds cannot assign this flash and prefer to stay away.

Another species that could cause problems is mice. Mice are always looking for a warm place to sleep. Since the cranberries cover the ground, mice can build a great house under them. This problem usually occurs when the shrubs are planted too tightly. The cranberries grow very densely and therefore offer the mice a very good shelter. It won't be long before the mice get the taste of the cranberry. They do not attack the plants, but they will eat all the fruit from the bush for the hobby gardener.


Cranberries are very robust plants. They cope with very hot, but also very cold temperatures, which is why they are considered to be particularly frost-resistant. The cranberries have few natural enemies. Pests that attack many other plants have no chance with cranberries. Only birds and mice make life difficult for the hobby gardener, because these animals love the taste of the sweet and sour fruit.

There is only one disease that can affect cranberries. Mushrooms have specialized in individual plants over time and so there are four types of mushrooms that destroy the cranberry bushes. If you have recognized a fungal attack from the bright red color of the leaves and shoots, you have to remove the plant from the bed. It is no longer possible to save them.