Raspberries are a favorite summertime fruit produced by perennial bushes that are easy to grow and maintain. Unfortunately, soft fruit goes bad quickly and only lasts a short time in stores. So, the best thing to do is grow your own at home!
Plants naturally flourish in cooler climates, and through a century of cultivates and crosses several varieties are suitable for a range of hardiness zones. Good site selection, a bit of pruning, and soil amending results in healthy raspberry beds that fruit for decades!
Raspberry patches are a source of flower nectar for pollinators and serve as effective property boundaries. They have a sweet-tart flavor and are rich in vitamin C, manganese, flavonoids, and antioxidants. The perfect ingredient for desserts and salads, if you ask us!
Select a raspberry variety to grow based on your climate. Summer-bearing varieties are most common, tolerant of harsh winters, and produce an annual summertime crop.
Everbearing varieties are more suitable for warmer climates and can produce both summertime and an additional fall crop.
Botanical Name: Rubus idaeus
Common Name: Raspberry, wild raspberry, wild red raspberry
Plant Type: Perennial, fruit, shrub
Hardiness Zones: 4 – 8 (USDA)
Sun Exposure: Full sun, partial shade
Soil Type: Well-drained, sandy loam soil
Soil pH: 5.5 – 6.5 (Acidic)
Height: 3 – 9 feet
Spacing: 18 – 24 inches
Bloom Time: Summer, fall
Native Area: North America, Europe, Northern Asia
Quick Guide: Planting, Growing & Harvesting for Raspberries
- Select a variety suitable to your climate
- Plant in well-draining areas with full sun and good air circulation to prevent molds
- Maintain soil acidity (pH 5.5 to 6.5) to avoid iron deficiency
- Give plenty of space for plants to grow out into “beds” and provide vertical support
- Plant 500′ from wild berry patches and do not plant near Verticillium-host plants
- Prune annually to increase yields and amend soils, as needed
- Pick berries when ripe and store at low temperatures
Raspberry Plant Care
Growing your own sweet and juicy wild raspberries is a simple and rewarding activity. These shrubs require the same conditions as other fruiting plants, including plenty of water and sunlight along with good air circulation and drainage.
Raspberries, despite their name, are not berries. Blackberries and strawberries, for that matter, are not either. A real berry is a multi-seeded fleshy fruit that grows from a single flower with a single ovary.
By this definition, blueberries, cranberries, elderberries, gooseberries, and lingonberries are real berries. Raspberries grow from blooms with more than one ovary.
Essentially, a raspberry is an aggregate fruit composed of numerous components gathered around a central core. Each drupelet is a little bead-like component that grows from a single ovary and contains a single seed.
Raspberries do well in a sunny, partially shaded spot. During the growing season, this plant needs 6 to 8 hours of sunlight daily and is susceptible to sunburns in hot, direct sunlight.
This manifests on some of the berries as white spots. But a little sunburn won’t change the taste of the fruit, just how it looks.
Raspberries can grow in many different types of soil and produce high-quality fruit, but they do best in sandy loam soils with organic matter and plant nutrients. They love fertile soil that’s acid with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5.
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Raspberries require regular watering in order to grow luscious berries. During the growing season, it prefers about an inch of rainfall or water once a week. Drip irrigation is ideal during this time.
During the first year, pay close attention to how much water your plants get as they get established. If necessary, add more water.
Make sure to water raspberries from below since they are prone to various fungi. If you can, you should put in a drip irrigation system. Wet foliage promotes fungal diseases, however watering near the soil minimizes this problem. Dry foliage does not support the growth of the fungus.
Temperature and Humidity
Raspberries are native to cooler climates and require moderate temperatures and moderate humidity levels. When temperatures are excessively high, photosynthesis can actually stop.
The ideal summertime temperature for this plant is between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure the planting area receives early sun and afternoon shade in warmer climates to help control temperature.
Raspberry plants are heavy feeders and love rich, fertile soil. Use an all-purpose organic fertilizer rich in nitrogen and phosphorous and do not fertilize later than June.
Reduce pH of alkaline soils with humus, peat, pine needles, or an organic fertilizer specifically designed for acid-loving plants. Iron deficiency in raspberries manifests as yellowing leaves because plants are not producing insufficient chlorophyll; saturate soil with chelated iron, as needed.
Raspberry plants are perennial shrubs that need annual pruning. This plant can spread in any direction and that’s why it can quickly become a ‘raspberry patch’ if not pruned.
Remove all dead, damaged, or weak canes (branches) before bud swell in early spring. In late summer, pinch new cane tips that are at 4-5′ in height to promote load-bearing branches.
Everbearing varieties produce a heavier fall crop with summer tip-pruning. Summer-bearing varieties sucker (grow from roots and lower stems) and need annual pruning of suckers to promote hearty harvests.
Types and Varieties of Raspberries
There are two main types of raspberry plants: summer-fruiting and ever-bearing. The latter is a popular choice amongst many home gardeners because they bear fruit in early summer and again in fall.
Every summer, these raspberry plants produce a single crop. Once established, the summer-fruiting type will produce fruit on floricanes, which are woody second-year branches, beginning in the second growing season. Some popular raspberry varieties of this type include:
- Canby: These are red raspberries that are nearly thornless. They’re generally recommended for Northwest, Upper Great Lakes, and New England.
- Royalty: This variety produces purple raspberries and is better suited for warmer areas.
- Jewel: This variety will give you black raspberries that are disease-resistant and great for warmer areas.
- Black Hawk: As the name suggests, this again will also give you black raspberries and is a heat and drought-tolerant variety.
These raspberry bushes have the ability to generate two harvests in a single growing season, the first of which is a modest harvest of berries in June, followed by a more abundant harvest in September.
These types of bush bear berries in their first year on the first year’s green canes, known as primocanes.
- Heritage: This variety will give you red berries and is a great one recommended for Ohio Valley and the Mid-Atlantic.
- Plainsman: This is another great red raspberry variety that does better in higher altitudes such as the Rockies and High Plains.
- Fallgold: This is a delicious variety with yellow raspberries and is suitable for the Upper Midwest and Canada.
- Double Gold: You’ll get yellow raspberries tinged with peach if you plant this variety. It’s better suited for warmer areas.
How to Plant and Grow Raspberries
Understanding how the raspberry cane is important to grow raspberries properly and make the experience more interesting. Raspberry plants continually produce stems with a lifespan of two years from their crown or base.
They are known as primocanes or floricanes depending on their age, and they behave differently depending on the kind and variety of berry you are cultivating. It’s important to understand the properties of each cane because of these variations.
Primocanes are the first-year canes that emerge from the plant’s crown each spring. These green young shoots grow quickly.
The second-year canes are known as floricanes. Once they enter their first winter of dormancy, they often take on a woody appearance and turn brown. Since their sole purpose is to produce flowers and fruit, they often have fewer leaves than primocanes.
How to Grow Raspberries from Seed
Fall is the ideal time to plant raspberry seeds since the cold winter weather promotes spring germination.
Start seeds outside to simulate how dropped seeds overwinter (stratification). You can also achieve the same result by placing the seeds in the refrigerator.
How to Plant Raspberry Plant
Select a site with rich, deep soil that drains well, as water-saturated soils can suffocate plants and cause crown gall and molding. Plant in full sun; raspberries can tolerate partial shade, but may reduce harvest. Afternoon shade may be needed in warmer climates with high UV.
Raspberries prefer acidic soils. A pH of 5.5-6.5 helps prevent iron and manganese deficiencies and annual amending to maintain appropriate acidity may be needed.
Weeds compete for water, nutrients, and light. Manually pulling weeds is best or spot treat with a good organic herbicide between canes, and mulches contribute to rodent infestations, which can damage plants.
A few weeks prior to planting, till beds and prepare with 1-2″ of organic compost or well-rotted animal manure. Raspberries are sold as either bare root or container-grown plants.
Space them out between 18 and 24 inches and make sure the soil is moist. After planting, thoroughly water the area. Mulch with woodchips or straw to keep moisture in and control weeds.
Transplant bare root plants to outdoor beds 4-6 weeks prior to the last frost. Transplant potted plants in late spring after the last frost, with crowns 1-2″ above ground. Plants may produce fruit the first year after planting, but more likely will produce fruits the second year.
Allow raspberries space to fill out into “beds.” Space rows at least 5′ apart, and plant summer-bearing varieties 2′ and everbearing varieties 4′ apart. Plant near vertical support, such as a trellis or fence.
How to Harvest and Store Raspberries
Tangy raspberries are ready for harvest in early summer and fruit for about two weeks. They should be picked when fully red and ripe.
Berries have a short shelf life of only 2-3 days. To slow decay, harvest in the early morning, store berries at low temperatures soon after harvest and be sure to remove decaying berries from the crop.
Common Insects and Plant Disease for Raspberries
Raspberries are susceptible to a host of diseases. Plant beds at least 500′ from wild patches and use caution when transplanting from existing beds, as diseases and viruses will spread into new beds.
Birds, cane borers, spider mites, and Japanese beetles are common pests of neighborhood berry patches. Learn how to identify these unwanted visitors and use proven, organic methods to get rid of them.
Unfortunately, viruses are commonly transmitted by nematodes or aphids. If a plant is infected, remove or destroy it immediately.
Raspberry plants are vulnerable to Verticillium wilt, a pathogen transmitted by potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cotton, petunias, roses, and other ornamental bulbs. Verticillium can live in soil for years, and soils must be fumigated before planting to kill spores.
Other fungal diseases to watch out for include cane blight, gray mold, spur blight, and anthracnose.
Remember – store-bought raspberries are among our most pesticide-laden fruits, with 58% of fruits tested registering positive for contamination. The peace of mind knowing that the sweet, juicy fruits you harvest contain no chemical residues… priceless!
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