How to Grow Raspberries
Growing fresh raspberries is easy, cost-effective, and provides you with fresh raspberries at your fingertips. All that’s needed is a little space in a sunny location and the raspberry bushes will do the rest.
Choosing the right variety for your growing zone, planting the bushes in well-draining soil in a sunny location, and providing them a sturdy trellis system will ensure a juicy crop of fresh raspberries for years to come.
Where To Plant
Raspberry bushes can be grown in containers or planted in the soil in an outdoor garden. As long as the soil is rich in organic matter so it will drain well and the sun shines on the location for at least 6-hours each day.
Select raspberry plants that grow well in your USDA growing zone for best berry production. After you have selected the varieties best suited to your climate you can select from plants that create long vines or those that grow into a compact bush. You can also select from ever-bearing varieties or summer bearing varieties, and three different berry colours.
- There are several varieties of raspberries to choose from when planting a berry patch. A mixture of plants will provide you with colourful, juicy berries and floral blooms all summer long.
- Dwarf, thornless bushes are ideal for growing in containers and/or around children. They will form a compact mounded bush 2-3 tall and around 2-feet wide. Dwarf bushes will produce the same size raspberry as traditional size bushes and they can double as an attractive potted plant.
- Raspberry bushes of all varieties produce blooms that attract pollinators.
- Traditional raspberry bushes have thorns and will reach a height of 3-5 feet and equally as wide each growing season. The bushes are cut back to ground level in early fall every year.
- Ever-bearing varieties bare juicy raspberries throughout the summer and some ever-bearing varieties will continue to produce a few berries until the first frost of fall. This is a good choice to plant if you want fresh raspberries to eat all summer.
- Summer-bearing varieties will produce one main crop of fresh berries in mid-summer and few sporadic berries thereafter. Summer-bearers are a good choice if you want to make jams, jellies, or otherwise preserve some raspberries for winter use.
- We are accustomed to red raspberries but there are also black, purple, and yellow ones. The flavour and berry size is the same, just the berry colour is different.
When To Plant
Early spring is the best time to plant raspberries. Amend the soil with compost before planting to ensure the soil is fertile and drains well. The compost will keep the plants fed until they become established in their new home.
How To Plant Raspberries in the Garden
Creating a raised bed for your raspberry bushes will help prevent root rot. These berry bushes hate soggy soil and raised beds allow the excess moisture to quickly drain away.
If you are starting with bare-root plants, soak them in a bucket of water for 6-hours before planting. If you are starting with potted bushes, soak soil in the pot and allow water to drain out before planting bush. Don’t pull bush out of the pot by the stem, turn the pot upside down and gently coax the bush out so the stem or roots are not damaged.
While they are soaking, dig planting holes that are 1-foot deep and 1-foot wide in amended soil. Make planting holes 3-feet apart. Add 1-cup of well-rotted cow manure or slow-release fertilizer to the bottom of the planting hole.
Place bare root plant in the centre of the hole and pull in soil around it until the soil is level around the plant. Water thoroughly.
Add a 2-inch layer of straw around the base of the berry bush.
How To Plant Raspberries in Containers
Select containers that are 2-3 feet deep and equally as wide. Fill the container 2/3‘s full of potting soil and add compost to finish filling the container and mix well.
Follow the same planting steps for either bare-root or potted bushes. If planting a potted bush some of the potting soil may have to be removed from the container before planting the new bush.
Place containers in a sunny location and keep soil moist. If the bush is a traditional caning variety it will need to be supported with a trellis or other vertical structure.
Caring For Raspberries
- Traditional caning varieties will need to be supported whether they are being grown in a container or the garden. Any vertical structure, like a fence, porch post, wooden posts, etc., can be used to support the long canes and keep them off the ground.
- Feed bushes with your favourite nitrogen-rich plant food in early spring. Top dress around the base of bushes with compost as soon as blooms appear.
- Bushes have shallow roots and will need to be watered thoroughly twice a week. Place water near the base of the bush and try not to get the foliage or berries wet to help prevent fungus from growing.
- After the first frost in fall mow the entire raspberry bush down to grown level. Container-grown raspberries should be pruned back to soil level.
- Hand-pick pests off of bushes and plant garlic, sage, and rosemary near the raspberry bushes to deter pests.