You can’t beat the sweet-tart flavor of raspberries, and their taste is what makes them great for use in desserts or sweet treats. While many enjoy purchasing these fruits from the farmer’s market, being able to pick your fresh berries from the backyard is even better. Our article covers all you need to know about how to grow raspberries.
Raspberries are a fun treat, whether you eat them like berries, make them into jam, or dust them with sugar for a sweeter snack. Whether you choose to consume raspberries, pulling your supply from a source you trust is essential. What could be better than growing raspberries for your family to enjoy?
Growing a raspberry plant in your yard doesn’t need to be a complicated effort, and with our guide, you can arm yourself with all the knowledge necessary for a successful raspberry yield year after year.
- Growing Raspberries
- Dealing with Pests and Disease on Your Raspberry Bushes
Growing raspberries not only provides you with an endless supply of your favorite fruit, but also gives you a source of fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. Knowing how to grow raspberries involves selecting a suitable variety and implementing the right tools for efficient growth.
It might surprise you to hear there are hundreds of raspberry varieties globally, and many of them don’t look like the signature red berries we’re used to.
Are blackberries and raspberries the same? No, they are different plants that have some similar characteristics.
Black raspberries and even yellow and purple raspberries exist among different raspberry plants. While raspberries are a summer fruit, the everbearing variety provides fruit in summer and fall.
Some raspberry varieties are due to the cross-pollination work of farmers who plant raspberry varieties near each other and rely on the wind or beneficial insects to carry pollen from one plant to another.
The resulting cross-pollination creates a new variety of raspberry with characteristics of its parent plants, usually to produce a new fruit that is somehow better than other types. These hybrids may have better taste, larger size, or are more resistant to disease.
Boyne raspberries are known for their bright red color and sweet flavor. This red raspberry is cold-hardy and resistant to disease and grows well throughout most of the US.
Killarney raspberries are resistant to cold temperatures, are medium-sized and produce dark red fruits with a sweet flavor.
Royalty raspberries are a hybrid of red and black raspberries known as purple raspberries. Royalty berries are large and delicious and known for their disease resistance.
Anne raspberries are golden in color when they ripen and have a tropical flavor. Anne berries are another cultivar that resists disease and is awarded high marks based on taste.
Heritage raspberries are medium-sized fall-bearing raspberries. It’s time to harvest raspberries of this variety in mid-summer and again in early fall. Heritage berries are bright red, disease-resistant, and highly productive, capable of producing fruit within the first year of growth.
Fallgold raspberries are golden yellow berries with the same sweet taste as red berries. Fallgold plants are harvestable in late summer or early fall and spring.
Choosing Which Raspberry Plant to Grow
Beginning your journey on growing a raspberry patch starts with picking a raspberry to grow, so you need to explore the differences between black raspberry vs red raspberry. Raspberries thrive in specific zones based on the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. Referencing this map or consulting your local agriculture office is a significant first step to isolate which raspberry varieties are best for your area.
Taste-test raspberries at local farms to determine which flavor or sweetness you’re looking for. Because the fruits you grow are likely headed into your kitchen to use in desserts and treats, it’s essential to grow a variety you like to eat.
The amount of work you put in and what you’re hoping to get out of your raspberry patch are essential factors as well. When to plant raspberry bushes depends on the type you choose to grow. Summer-bearing raspberries produce fruit for roughly a month in the summer before going dormant until the following summer.
Fall-bearing raspberries are a beloved fall crop when planting your garden based on their ability to produce fruit more steadily over a longer growing season than summer-bearing varieties.
Although plenty of summer and fall varieties have large yields, they won’t compare to growing everbearing raspberries that fruit in summer and fall, or late summer and then early spring the following year.
Where to Plant Raspberries
When you’re ready to grow raspberries, it’s crucial to know where to plant your bushes. The best place to plant raspberries is in full sun (six to eight hours) with rich, well-drained soil.
Raspberries are self-fertile plants – pollinating themselves to bear fruit, and planting other raspberry bushes is not necessary for fruiting to occur if there is no room in your garden.
When selecting a place to plant raspberries, avoid garden beds where tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, or other nightshade plants have grown. These plants may harbor diseases such as verticillium wilt that raspberries are susceptible to.
Raspberry bushes are sprawling growers and grow very top-heavy, requiring support. Raspberry bushes grow well with a trellis added to their garden bed, which helps with good air circulation.
Raspberry bushes generally grow to be at least six feet tall, but this varies on the cultivars. The expected height of your bushes determines the size of your trellis.
Use your screws and screwdriver to secure two smaller wooden beams to a larger beam, one at the top to create a T and one in the middle. Bury this stake into the end of your garden bed to support your raspberry bush.
If you grow multiple bushes in a row, create more stakes for each plant. Drilling holes in the top beam of each stake and installing a wire that goes through each stake keeps your new canes growing neatly and out of walking paths around your garden.
How to Grow Raspberries
While you can plant raspberry seeds, it takes quite a while from start to finish. Your best bet is buying a plant or two. Garden centers or nurseries typically sell dormant raspberry plants, which are dug up and stored without soil around their roots to halt growth. To plant these bushes, known as bare-root plants, soak them in warm water for an hour first.
In late spring, prepare a hole in either a raised bed or a ground level garden bed twice as wide and as deep as the bare-root length.
Using the soil removed from the hole, create a half-and-half mixture with aged compost soil that contains organic matter. This mixture adds nutrients to the soil to aid in the growth of your raspberry bushes. You can also purchase enriched soil at local garden centers.
When to transplant raspberry bushes is usually in the spring. Make a mound of soil in the hole and place the roots of your bush on the mound. Fill in space between the roots with the mix and tamp down to level it with the earth surrounding the growing site before watering well.
Grow some raspberry companion plants nearby to help control bugs and increase yields.
If you are planting raspberry seedlings that you began growing in a container, create a hole with the exact measurements before filling the hole in with the soil and water well.
After planting your raspberry bush, cut the stems of your plant to just three inches above the soil. If you grow your bushes at ground level, adding mulch around the plant keeps the soil evenly moist throughout the growing season.
If frequent droughts or dry periods are common, mulching or planting in a raised bed with soil that holds moisture prevents your soil from becoming too dry.
Caring for Your Raspberry Bushes
Keep your raspberry bushes watered evenly during the summer whenever the top of the soil is dry. Only water the base of your plants and avoid watering during winter as this causes roots to rot.
Part of the right way to plant raspberries is performing regular maintenance on your brambles. This is essential when growing raspberries and helps your plant produce more fruit. Depending on the variety of raspberries you planted, you may find your new canes producing fruit in late summer.
These canes, known as primocanes, produce fruit into fall. The following year, while your plant is dormant in late winter or early spring, prune the canes that previously fruited that are now one year old. Using garden shears, prune the canes until they are three to four feet tall.
For raspberry canes that do not produce fruit until spring of their second year (floricanes), prune these fruiting canes to the ground after they fruit. As your bushes grow, prune back any branches that grow too long as well as any dead canes.
How Long Do Raspberries Take to Grow?
Although raspberries are vigorous growers, new plants vary in growth rates based on the variety. Bushes that bear fruit in summer or fall, as well as everbearing types, all differ in when you should expect your first harvest. So, how long do raspberries take to grow?
Most raspberry varieties are ready for a full harvest between 16 and 18 months after planting. Some new plants produce fruit within the first year; however, this is only at the ends of the stems. Fruiting along the entire branch comes in the following years.
Red raspberries are typically ripe within six weeks from the start of the growing season. Yellow raspberries ripen at about the same time but may produce less fruit.
Harvesting and Storing Raspberries
To ensure your hard work rewards you with the best flavor and texture, harvest your berries when the weather is dry and cool after the midday heat is over.
The timing of your harvest depends on the type of raspberry and the season, but aside from a few pale red cultivars, your fruit should have deep shades of red, black, purple, or yellow.
To harvest, grab the berry and gently tug it. Ripe fruit should come free of the stem with ease, leaving the core behind. An average yield for a bush is one to two quarts of raspberries, and if you are harvesting a lot of ripe fruit, we suggest not placing them all in one container to avoid smashing them.
After harvesting, remove any leaves or debris you find but avoid washing your berries until you’re ready to use them. If you plan to store your berries in the fridge, washing beforehand makes them more prone to spoiling.
Place your raspberries in the fridge where they can remain for a maximum of three days. If you do not have immediate plans to use them, gently rinse them in cold water and allow them to dry out of direct light.
Lay the fruit in a single layer on a baking sheet and place them in the freezer. Drop the frozen raspberries in freezer bags to use as needed. Raspberries can remain in the freezer without losing quality for up to a year.
Dealing with Pests and Disease on Your Raspberry Bushes
While birds will enjoy feeding on your fruits as much as you do, some animals are less welcome in your garden. Common pests for raspberry bushes include aphids, borers, and fruit worms.
A practical solution for dealing with most insects is to spray your plants with an insecticide like Spinosad, a natural substance made from bacteria in soil that is harmful to insects. The chemical is created by mixing spinosyn A and spinosyn B.
If you notice the ends of your branches appear wilted, or foliage is turning prematurely red ahead of the fall season, you may have borers. Crown borers and cane borers may target your plants. These insects bore their way into the stems, leaves, and roots of your plant to cause damage.
Common diseases affecting raspberry bushes are fruit and root rot, and spur blight. Fortunately, these diseases are easily controlled or prevented.
Identifying Borers on Your Bushes
If the tips of your raspberry canes are wilting, and you do not notice damage anywhere else, the likely culprit is the raspberry cane borer. These borers are black beetles with long horns, yellow stripes on their wing covers, and a yellow thorax with two black dots.
Female cane borers create rows of holes below the leaf tips in the spring to lay their eggs. After hatching in late spring or summer, larvae dig into the plant and burrow their way to the roots.
The larvae overwinter before they emerge as adults to begin the life cycle again. If borers can make it to the roots, the affected cane will die from the damage.
Red-necked borers create swollen areas on the canes of your plants. These beetles are bluish-black with a red area behind the head. Adult female borers lay their eggs in the bark of the raspberry cane in late spring to early summer.
After hatching, red-necked borer larvae burrow deeper inside the cane where they overwinter. This causes the cane to swell and may cause the stem to break at the swollen point or die completely.
Crown borers in the adult stage are moths that look like black and yellow wasps with transparent wings. These pests cause the leaves of your bushes to turn red or cause the cane itself to wilt.
The borers lay eggs on the underside of raspberry leaves in late summer. In fall, crown borer eggs hatch, and the larvae make their way to the soil to feed on the roots of your plant. Eggs planted here near the crown of your bush hatch the following spring.
Getting Rid of Borers in Raspberries
Dealing with red-necked and cane borers is as simple as spotting the wilted tips of your canes. Prune back the damaged canes to at least six inches below where the wilted stops.
Because larvae burrow into the stems, the portion you prune likely contains the larvae of these insects. This makes destroying or burning the wilted cane a crucial step. Do not compost this portion and reuse it.
When removing crown borers, pruning affected canes is effective; however, due to their habit of burrowing into the crown of your plant, where the stems meet the roots, pruning needs to include the entire branch down to the crown.
If you find the white larvae of crown borers inside the crown of your plant, dig up the entire plant and destroy it to rid your garden of these pests.
Inspect wild brambles for evidence of borers that may be affecting your plants. If possible, destroy these native plants to eliminate alternative host posts for these pests.
Countering Disease Affecting Your Raspberry Bush
Botrytis cinerea is a fungus that causes blight and rot in plants. On raspberries, the fungus overwinters as a hardened mass of fungal threads on canes, leaves, and fruit. In the spring, the hardened fungal gathering on plants produces spores.
This fungus thrives in moist, humid environments that is typically ideal for spreading pathogens. The spores created are spread by wind and distributed by splashing water during rainy weather or improper watering.
The symptoms of infection appear on rotted fruit as tufts of grey fungus on the berry. On stems, lesions may occur but are not always fatal to the cane. In an environment conducive to the growth and spread of this fungus, there is no practice that provides proper management of this mold.
Avoiding fruit rot involves planting varieties resistant to this fungus and growing raspberries with adequate air circulation using a trellis. Avoid excess nitrogen when fertilizing and water your plants carefully to avoid overwatering and allowing water to sit on leaves.
Raspberries are relatively simple plants to grow and provide your home with almost too much fruit to handle if grown with care. Your bushes will bear fruit for years with proper planting and growth practices.
We hope that learning how to grow raspberries empowers you to start your raspberry patch, and we’d appreciate it if you shared our guide with raspberry lovers on your Facebook and Pinterest to answer their questions such as “How long do raspberries take to grow?”