Raspberries are the perfect summer treat. Raspberries can be quite prolific, producing baskets of berries, if raspberries are cared for well. Having raspberries growing on your property adds beauty and delight; walking out to your yard and picking raspberries fresh off the bush is one of the small joys of life.
Raspberry Plant Description
- Raspberries are a bramble, a wild bush with thorns. Raspberries grow in large patches that will spread if raspberries are not cut back and maintained. The prickly thorns are small and prolific. When harvesting, it is easy to avoid the thorns if there are clear paths through the bramble to reach the berries.
- There are several types of raspberries. The name of each indicates the color of the fruit. Black raspberry plants have juicy blackberries. Red raspberries plants have deep, red, berries. Purple raspberries are purple. The golden raspberry is a red raspberry without the pigment.
- These plants are perennial so choose a designated spot for them. Raspberries like full sun and well-drained soil. Raspberries should not be planted in locations that have grown eggplant, potatoes, tomatoes, or peppers in the previous four years. Raspberries share a common disease which can live in the soil and get passed on from crop to crop. Be careful to choose a location that doesn’t flood or have standing water as this will also increase the possibility of disease.
- Raspberries grow from transplants, called canes. Raspberries should be obtained from a garden center with a good reputation. Diseases can easily be transmitted from one cutting to another, and once a plant is infected, there is no way to save it. It is recommended to plant 6-10 canes at a time to get a raspberry patch established.
- The majority of transplants sold are one-year-old canes. Another option is tissue-cultured plants, which are generated through micropropagation. These are more expensive yet less likely to suffer disease issues.
- New raspberry canes should be planted in the spring. Planting along a fence or wall or in a circular patch will make them easier to manage. It will also be easier to pick the berries this way. The canes often look like raspberries are dead when you get them from the garden store yet once raspberries are planted and watered, raspberries will begin to show life.
- To plant raspberries, dig a hole for each cane. Place the cane in, keeping the crown 1-2 inches above the ground. Raspberries should be planted 2-3 feet apart in rows that are 10 feet apart. Raspberries will spread widely over the years, and appropriate space is important. Mulch around the plants with wood chips, bark, or pine needles to reduce weeds which compete for nutrients.
Care and Maintenance
- Raspberries are susceptible to drought and drying out so be sure to keep them well watered. Raspberries need about 1-2 inches of watering per week.
- Before any growth in the spring, cut back each cane to 12-15”. Weekly watering is for their health and to prevent them from growing out of control. Each year, apply fertilizer in the spring to maximize health and growth.
- In late July and into August, the berries will be ready to pick. Raspberries generally go through several stages of color before raspberries are quite ready. To check readiness, pinch each berry very lightly with your fingers and tug gently. If it pulls away easily, it is ripe. If it holds on, leave it on the bush to ripen further. Berries need to be picked as raspberries ripen and their season usually lasts several weeks. Harvest as frequently as needed.