HOW TO PLANT
QUICK FACTS FOR PLANTING RASPBERRIES
- Plant raspberry canes from late autumn to early spring when the ground is moist.
- Plant canes 50cm / 20in apart with each row being 1.6m / 5ft apart to allow you to walk and weed between rows.
- Plant them in water retentive ground which does not become water-logged.
- Choose a position which is in part shade avoiding the sun, if possible, in the hottest part of the day during the height of summer.
- Do not plant autumn and summer fruiting raspberries near each other. They have different pruning needs and may well become mixed up.
Because raspberries do not ripen when picked they are a nightmare for the commercial grower. Garden grown raspberries will store for three days in a fridge. We’ve outlined a couple of reasons for the high cost of raspberries in the shops and there are many more. But for the amateur gardener, when the conditions are correct, raspberries require very little maintenance in comparison to the delicious crop produced.
WHERE TO GROW RASPBERRIES
Raspberries do best in a cool climate which is great for us in the UK and cooler areas of the USA because our weather suits them ideally. If you live in a warm part of the world your raspberries will do best if they are planted in a slightly shady position so that they are not exposed to the full blast of the sun during the hottest part of the day. In fact, some of the best raspberries in the world are grown in Scotland. In most locations of the UK raspberries should be planted in a sunny position.
The next factor in producing good quality and healthy raspberries is the soil. They prefer a well drained soil, they dislike heavy clay soils (see our article about Raspberry Root Rot) especially in cold conditions. As well as liking an open soil they also prefer one that holds a good amount of water.
The best way to achieve the ideal soil for raspberries is to dig in lots of well composted organic matter prior to planting them. This will help the soil retain moisture and at the same time improve drainage so the roots won’t be standing in cold stagnant water.
An even better way to achieve the best soil conditions for your raspberries is to plant them in some form of raised bed. This need not necessarily be a formally enclosed raised bed (although that will do fine), simply drawing up the surrounding soil and added organic matter to form a mound higher (5cm or so) than the surrounding soil level will do the same job. Regular annual mulching will be enough to keep the mounded soil in place.
WHICH RASPBERRY CANES TO BUY
There are two main types of raspberries, summer fruiting varieties and autumn fruiting varieties. Within each type there are many varieties to choose from, some producing red berries, some yellow and some black.
Having decided the type and variety you want, you then need to decide whether to buy bare rooted canes or potted ones. To help guide you through this selection process we have dedicated a page to the pros and cons of raspberry varieties, the page can be found here.
Raspberries are best planted from late autumn to early spring. If the ground is frozen or water-logged, don’t plant your raspberries until the soil is workable. Store the canes in a cool position and keep them moist for a few days until conditions change.
If you need to wait longer before planting your raspberry bushes then dig a hole in a well drained and sheltered part of the garden and place the roots of all the canes in the hole. Draw the soil over the roots and around the stems and slightly firm the soil with the heel of your foot.
Heeling in Raspberry Bushes
Prepare the soil as described in the section above so that lots of organic material is incorporated into the surrounding ground. Just before planting scatter a handful of organic fertilise such as blood fish and bone over the soil and work it into the soil with a trowel – two handfuls every square metre is about the right amount. If you are planting summer fruiting raspberries then you will need to provide support for them, autumn fruiting raspberries however require little or no support.
Raspberry plant supports come in all types of sizes, methods and prices. The commonest, which requires no tying-in is the T-trellis. A T-trellis is a length of post, about 150c to 180cm 5ft to 6ft) high with two cross bars nailed to it, each about 30cm (1ft) across. The raspberry plants are sited in between the wires on either side and as they grow up they are supported by the wires. Typically, the two T-trellis are placed around 3m / 11ft apart. In windy sites they may need to be placed nearer to each other to provide more robust support.
To plant, dig a trench approximately 25cm (10in) deep by 30cm (1ft) wide. The roots of the raspberry canes should be placed in the trench and spread out. Cover the roots with soil up to the soil level you will see on the stem. Firm the soil down and water well. Individual canes should be spaced about 50cm / 20in apart.
For both autumn and summer fruiting raspberry canes cut them down to about 20cm / 8in after planting to encourage them to throw out lots of healthy growth from below ground. Don’t cut them right down to the ground because you may well forget where they are.
If you are planting more than one row of raspberries then space them about 1.6m / 5ft apart. The plants will grow well even if the rows are spaced only 1m / 3ft apart but it will be difficult to walk between the rows to harvest and maintain the plants.
To keep maintenance to a minimum, you may want to cover the path between the rows with woodchip or similar to minimise weeding later on. But what ever you cover the path with it must allow water to pass through to the soil below. Allow also for the fact that new raspberry cane suckers will sprout up from the path in later years and these will need to be pruned to ground level.
Finally apply a good mulch of organic matter over the surrounding soil but not touching the stems.
One cautionary word about growing summer and autumn fruiting raspberries near to each other – don’t! The problem is that the two types of raspberries need different types of pruning. Combine this with the fact that raspberry runners can travel several feet under the soil before emerging and you will understand that after a couple of years it may become impossible to determine which is a summer fruiting raspberry plant and which is an autumn fruiting plant.
PLANTING RASPBERRY BUSHES IN CONTAINERS
Raspberries can easily be grown in containers and they produce a surprisingly large crop for the space occupied. As far as planting in containers goes, the size of the pot and the soil used are the important factors. Choose a container about 40 cm / 15in in diameter and about the same depth. Select a raspberry cane variety that is not tall, Joan J is a variety which has grown well for us in containers.
The soil should be a mixture of general purpose potting compost (roughly 75%) and a John Innes type loam compost making up the remaining quarter. The loam will help to give the roots of the plant something more solid to grow into.
Plant the raspberry plant to the same depth as the soil mark on the stem. Firm down the soil then scatter 3cm / 1in of mulch over the soil surface but not touching the stem. See the link to the next page on raspberries for care instructions when growing raspberries in containers.
COMMENTS / QUESTIONS LEFT BY OUR READERS
|Date: 19 November 2020||From: Joan|
|QUESTION: I have already ordered 10 raspberry bushes. The area I’m getting ready is quite clayey. You say make mounds ? how big should they be please? I’ve got available wood chips – should I cover the area between the bushes with the chips to stop weeds growing? How near to the bushes should the chips be?
ANSWER: Make the mounds with the top being about 5cm high.
I have had my current allotment for about five years and it is also clay soil. From my experience of my current allotment I would advise against laying down wood chip on the clay soil surface. I did that for a couple of years, like you with the objective of cutting down weeding requirements. Also to lock in moisture in the soil.
For the first time in my long gardening experience, my raspberries are not as good as they have been in previous decades. I’ve thought about why on many occasions and have come to the conclusion that the clay soil combined with 5cm of wood chip mulch every year has left the soil too damp and badly drained.
Yes, the clay will dry out in the summer but the plants can be watered. It is an impossible task to remove water from the soil.
I have taken the lesson that good drainage is far more important compared to keeping the soil moist.
I still believe that wood chip is an excellent addition to the soil for growing raspberries. But I would dig it in well so that it can rot down and improve the soil drainage as opposed to laying it on the soil surface.
|Date: 8 August 2020||From: Sally|
|QUESTION: I have a patch of summer raspberries that grew this year for the first time, but no fruit. Should I leave them as they are until next year, or should I cut them down? Thanks in anticipation for your help!
ANSWER: Leave them as they are. Summer fruiting raspberries produce fruit from canes which grew the previous year but did not fruit – this is exactly your situation. Those canes will be ready for fruit production next summer. Cutting them down now will result in a smaller and later crop.
|Date: 7 May 2020||From: Mark J|
|QUESTION: i have put in late raspberry plants should i see buds by now i have all ready got summer ones that are doing well.
ANSWER: Late (normally called autumn) raspberries won’t show buds yet. As with you, I can see raspberries forming on my summer ones but no sign yet on the autumn ones. So that sounds normal to me. Don’t expect too much fruit in the first year for raspberries. Fruit production will ramp up in second and later years.
|Date: 25 April 2020||From: J P Lea|
|QUESTION: I have moved to a property where raspberry canes have run riot and spread through a large area. Rather than dig them all up in early april I replanted 10 in 2 rows of 5 20″ apart. Oh I should mention these are red summer fruiting ones. I have now set in a post at either end of each row ready to take the wires to support the canes BUT it appears the previous owners used a hedge trimmer to cut every cane down to the same height of 2ft. They still seem to be growing but I’m not expecting much of a crop at all this year but within 1 or 2 years, following your advice I’m sure they’ll have recovered. My question is what heights should I set the wires? 2ft and 4ft? As I understand they grow to about 5ft?
ANSWER: First, if all the canes were cut down to 2ft, it should now be possible to cut out all the unproductive canes. They will have brown stems, the new productive canes will have green stems. At this time of year the difference should be relatively easy to identify.
Yes, on average summer fruiting canes will grow to about 5ft. If you are running one support wire through them I would do it at around 3ft. When the canes are lower than that they will support themselves. Much higher and they will be vulnerable to windy conditions. If you run the wire at about 3ft they will then be supported when they need it and the upper 2 ft will be OK.
|Date: 22 February 2020||From: Alison|
|QUESTION: Can I pick fruit of my Glen Moray the first summer, I have just planted five canes?
ANSWER: Yes you can, it will do no harm at all.
|Date: 6 December 2018||From: P. Cook|
|QUESTION: We bought two golden raspberries plants from a garden centre. Planted them in early October but they now look like they are dying back. Do new plants die back or should they still shoot up through the winter months. Is there anything we can do to protect them and their roots through winter?
ANSWER: My guess is that they were potted plants. If they were bare-rooted, October is probably too early to sell them.
Whichever, the plants should have come with instructions on how to plant them, this applies to both summer and autumn fruiting varieties.
All raspberry plants, established or newly planted, will die back over winter, that’s normal. I would certainly suggest that you cut back any newly planted raspberry plants to just above ground level. Also try and find out now if they are autumn or summer fruiting – pruning methods differ in future years for the two groups. The most popular orange /gold variety is All Gold which is an autumn fruiting variety.
|Date: 16 September 2018||From: Geoff|
|QUESTION: I have pruned the canes on my summer raspberries (Glen Prosen) that bore fruit this year and tied in the new growth. However, I now notice that these have started to flower. Should I prune these too?
ANSWER: I’ve not noticed that before so I’ve no direct experience of it. May be down to the warm weather / low rainfall this year.
Clearly you can’t prune away completely the new growth because you will then effectively make them produce fruit much later next year.
If it was me I would prune away the flowering tips. Those won’t produce any fruit this year so they are surplus to requirements.
|Date: 12 May 2018||From: Tim|
|QUESTION: I want to grow raspberries but the canes at my local garden centre have labels saying don’t grow on a site where plants of genus rubus have been grown before. What plants fall in this genus and is it really an issue? There are lots of loganberry canes on the site.
ANSWER: It can definitely be an issue and you will only know by trying it out. Rubus plants tend to get various diseases after 6 or 7 years and these remain in the soil for several years even after the infected plant has died. It includes many plants ending in berry (although not strawberries) so loganberries are definitely included.
|Date: 07 January 2018||From: Andy|
|QUESTION: I was given some raspberry cane last autumn and left them in a dark bag in the shed until now. Do you think there is any point planting them now, throwing them, or waiting until spring? They are small stalks but still look damp (not dried out) although the above ground stems have some whitening.The area I have now is on a river bank so quite wet now as the water is high, and south facing and sheltered. Or I can plant higher up west facing and not sheltered from sky or wind. Which is best? Thanks
ANSWER: Now is fine for planting raspberry canes, just don’t do it on a day when the ground is frozen.
As for where to plant them, I wouldn’t plant them on the river bank. Although raspberry canes like a moist soil, if the ground is water logged for more than a week or so you run the real risk of Raspberry Root Rot.
Your alternative of higher up sounds a better option. Possibly it’s not ideal but it sounds about the same conditions as all of my raspberry canes have been in over the past few decades. If it is exposed to wind though, make sure the canes are supported.
|Date: 02 January 2018||From: tj|
|QUESTION: I have just inherited a patch of raspberries, I notice you say plant them 20″ apart, when pruning do you suggest maintaining this distance year by year betwee rough groups of canes, or just maintaining a row?
The raspberries seem to have become a block rather than a row, would it be better to dig them all up now and replant them as described in a new location?
ANSWER: From my personal experience on two allotments, when raspberries are established they grow fine in a block, it just makes pruning them slightly more difficult. But it never really was a problem for me. I certainly would not dig them up now as long as they are healthy.
On my last allotment I never worked out which was summer fruiting and which was autumn fruiting, I pruned all of them at the same time. They did just fine.
I did make a small effort to identify green and fresh looking stems and left them alone. The thought was that they were probably summer fruiting and would produce a better crop if left alone. Summer fruiting raspberries generally produce fruit better on last year’s stems.
Sometimes gardening is not an exact science!
|Date: 23 October 2017||From: Apostolos|
|QUESTION: I am interested to grow raspberries in a big container lets say 30inch. Are there any ideal primocane varieties you could suggest? Will this be successful?
ANSWER: I would suggest Autumn Bliss (autumn fruiting / floricane variety) for growing in a container. It is slightly shorter than many other varieties and supports itself very well. Container grown raspberries are often successful although their life span is shorter compared to a raspberry cane grown in open ground.
|Date: 06 January 2017||From: Steve|
|QUESTION: Last year I purchased a few Autumn and summer raspberries. The autumn have established but only 3 of the 10 the summer survived. I have not pruned any yet. Can I propagate more summer plants by splitting the remaining ones?
ANSWER: I’ve not heard of the roots being divided. The best way to get more raspberry plants is to wait until early autumn. By that time new shoots will appear near the parent plant. These can be dug up and the roots clipped to separate the shoot from the parent. Plant the separated shoots wherever you need them.