New Zealand Cranberry – Wally Richards

A few years ago I purchased a fruiting plant called ‘New Zealand Cranberry’ and potted it up into a 45 Litre container using compost and animal manures.

The following year the bush rewarded me with a small crop of delicious red berries.
After my NZ cranberry having been in the 45 litre container for a few seasons I recently potted it up into a 100 litre container which was made from a 200 litre plastic drum cut in half.

For those that are interested to know how I pot up fruit trees for great results, here is how:

Ensure that your container has adequate drainage which may mean drilling holes in any container not designed for growing plants such as rubbish tins and drums.
Use a saw drill that is going to make holes about 30mm across. These can either be made in the bottom of the container or on the sides just above the bottom (say about 40mm up) This later drainage means that when watering, there can be a layer of water in the very bottom of the container, which would help in the summer when the water needs are much higher.
You could if you wish at this stage place some stones in the bottom of the container to ensure better drainage and if you live in an area that is wet in the winter, good drainage is important.
I then fill the bottom third up with purchased compost such as Daltons or Oderings.
Next a layer of animal manure is spread to the depth of about 30mm. Chicken manure is best as its weed free but any other manures would be fine.
If you do not have access to animal manure then spread sheep manure pellets plus blood & bone over the base compost. Sprinkle a little more compost to just cover the manure and then sprinkle a scoop of Ocean Solids and a scoop or two of Rok Solid and about a teaspoon of BioPhos.
If you have either gypsum or dolomite then sprinkle about a tablespoon of either or both. Now cover this with more compost till you reach the right level for potting up your specimen tree.
The height of the base of the tree should be about 50mm lower than the rim of the container leaving this area as a trough for easy watering.
Backfill the container with more of the same compost.
If you are using a larger container such as 100 litres (half a drum) then you can plant seedlings of lettuce, spinach or silver beet around the edge of the container between the sides and where the root ball of the transplanted tree is.
I usually grow a few vegetable plants in my large fruit tree containers.
Then when back filling I would leave an area of about 10cm below the top of the transplanted tree around the rim and then place a layer of chicken manure or similar in this area before finishing off with the compost, then into this area, seedlings can be planted.
With or without planting seedlings around the rim I finish off with a sprinkling of Neem Tree Granules and Bio Boost pellets (also called Break Through) and about quarter a teaspoon of OrganiBOR.
Watered in with a solution of Magic Botanic Liquid and you have given your new plantings the best start to live in their new container.
Back to my New Zealand Cranberry which is actually not a cranberry at all but the name it goes by in New Zealand. It is a Chilean Guava  or Myrtus ugni (Ugni molinae) which is part of the same family as Feijoa and Guavas – Myrtacean.
The real Cranberry is a vaccinium and is part of the same family as blueberries – Ericacean.
The bush or you could call it a small tree is only about a metre tall with a similar spread making it a perfect container specimen. (they can get up to 3 metres but it is unusual)
Chilean Guava is an upright bush growing to about 1 metre tall and in autumn is covered in small aromatic red berries. The birds do not bother with them which is a great plus with any fruiting plant.
The Chilean Guava was named after Juan Ignacio Molina (1737-1829). It has been known by botanists and gardeners since 1844.
Indigenous to Chile and Bolivia, it bears fragrant, purplish red, berry-like fruit. These are edible and are eaten raw or made into jams and preserves. The plentiful small, bell-shaped flowers are pink or white with prominent stamens, which are carried in the leaf axils.
The berries have a delicious flavour and are aromatic, with a taste like strawberry. The fruit is about 15mm in diameter. Its leaves can be a substitute for tea and the seeds, if roasted, are a coffee substitute.
The Chilean Guava can be grown as a low hedge  or potted up in a nice tub as a feature plant. They are tolerant of some trimming. It has small, shiny, dark-green leaves which are tinged with red when young. Best in a cool climate and a moist soil and they need plenty of water in the summer period, although once established, they will be more tolerant to dryness.
You can purchase this evergreen fruit tree from your garden centre or if you have one or access to the tree or fruit, grow your own.
Growing seed: soak overnight, and then sow in a good potting mix. . Plant out individual seedlings into pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least the first winter. In spring, or early summer, plant them out into a permanent position after the last frost. Cuttings can also be grown. Pot them up in autumn and keep them under cover, planting them out in spring. The plant can also be propagated by layering.
Like its relation the Feijoa it has little or no disease and pest problems so another big plus for this excellent fruit tree.
I really like the idea of propagating this tree to grow as a hedge and all you would need to do would be to raise a number of seedlings, pot them on till a nice size for planting out and then plant them about 30 to 50cm apart down a row or around the edge of a mature garden as a break. The foliage and flowers are attractive plus you would have berries to eat
Wikipidia and image references about New Zealand Cranberry:


3 comments on “New Zealand Cranberry – Wally Richards

  1. Brenda on said:

    Where can I buy seed for this guava?

  2. I have 3 growing in tall pots and plentiful fruit. one has it’s leaves turning red and brown and fruit not very good…are you able to tell me the problem please? Thank you.

  3. It could be pot bound or not getting enough nutrients. Apart from watering what have you been doing with it?

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