Raspberries are sweet with a hint of tartness that makes them irresistible, and there are so many ways to enjoy them. Eat them straight from the plant, add them to smoothies, toss them into a steaming bowl of oatmeal, or make a yogurt parfait. Learn about the different ways to grow your own raspberry bushes at home, how to prune raspberries and care for your plants, and harvest them for making homemade jam.
Raspberry brambles grow wild throughout North America, but many varieties are simple to grow in the garden.
Not only are they easy growers, but planting a raspberry bush or two in your yard is a great way to grow fruit if you don’t have space for a sizable fruiting tree. Give your plants proper care, and they reward you with a delicious berry crop year after year.
A raspberry plant yields three to four quarts of berries each season, and the fruits contain omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants like vitamins C and E. However, there are more benefits to growing a raspberry bush than fruit enjoyment.
These shrubs add interest to the yard while providing a natural habitat. They attract wildlife such as birds, squirrels, and rabbits, and the spring flowers draw butterflies and pollinators.
Growing and Pruning Raspberry Bushes
If you think that growing fruiting shrubs or fruit that grows on vines is difficult, think again. Raspberries only require a four to five foot range of space, have a shallow root system, and adapt to a range of soils.
They also grow well in a garden bed, pots, or raised beds. However, pruning raspberries each year is essential to ensuring your plants bear fruit.
The first step to take when preparing to grow a raspberry patch is to learn about the different types of raspberries and determine which ones to plant in your yard.
Discover how to plant raspberries and give your plants what they need to thrive and how and when to prune raspberry bushes to ensure you get healthy fruit production at the end of the growing season.
The Easiest Raspberry Types for Home-Growing
The best time to trim raspberry bushes depends on the type you grow. There are gold, red, and black raspberries, and then there are varieties that bear at varying times of the year.
Explore the differences between these berry bushes to help you choose the easiest and tastiest ones to grow.
Fall bearing raspberries grow fruit on canes the first year, while summer-fruiting plants produce on last year’s canes. On the other hand, everbearing shrubs produce two crops in the summer and fall.
There are also plants that have different colored berries. Black or purple raspberries are generally called black raspberries, and red or yellow types are considered red raspberries.
They are all closely related, but the black and purple types are more tolerant of heat, have better fruit production, and larger berries.
The most popular and easy growing raspberries are fall-bearing types since they require minimal support, and pruning them is simple. These include Carolina, Redwing, Autumn Bliss, and Heritage.
If you decide to grow berries for their color, Clyde and Marion are good purple types, while Allen, Bristol, and Huron are great choices if you prefer black raspberries.
Early Red and Taylor are delicious red berries, and Amber and Fallgold plants produce yellow or golden fruits.
Growing and Pruning Raspberries
One way to grow raspberry bushes is by seed. Others are by cuttings and nursery plants, and the time to begin pruning raspberries depends on how you decide to start growing them. Learn how to plant raspberries by using these different techniques.
To grow your plants from seed, start them indoors in mid-winter. Fill four-inch pots with seed starting soil and press a couple of seeds an inch deep in the middle of each container and cover them with a thin layer of sand.
Moisten the top with a spray bottle and place it in a cool, dim area of your home, and wait four to six weeks for germination. After the outdoor temperature is above 60°F, and the plants are an inch or taller, they are ready to transplant outside into the garden.
If you prefer to grow raspberries from a cutting, find a friend or neighbor with a full-grown raspberry plant and prune a three to six-inch cutting from the bush. Ensure the section has at least two leaf nodes and one inch of stem beneath them.
Dunk the cut end in rooting hormone powder and bury the lower leaf nodes in a small pot of dirt, making sure to leave to the top set of leaves above the soil. Water the plant lightly, place a plastic bag over the top to retain moisture, and set it in a safe area to root.
If you’d rather not go through the long process of planting seeds or cuttings, purchase a raspberry bare root plant from your local nursery. The first step is to soak the plant’s roots in lukewarm water for about an hour.
While it’s soaking, prepare the garden by adding nutrients and organic matter to the soil and digging a hole just as deep and two times as wide as the roots. Make a mound in the center of the hole and position the roots around and over the hill.
Push dirt around the root ball, press it down firmly, and water it evenly to help it settle. Cut the canes back to three inches above ground level to encourage new canes and growth.
Finally, spread a couple of inches of mulch over the garden and keep the dirt moist as the plant grows.
Some types require a trellis to lift the branches off the ground, so check your seed packet or garden center for this information. Pruning raspberry plants is important, and the time and method depend on the type you grow.
When to Prune Raspberry Bushes
Different raspberry varieties require pruning at varying times of the year. Clipping away floricanes, primocanes, and new or old canes at the wrong time results in a poor berry harvest or no berries at all. Find out when to prune raspberry bushes based on the bush type.
It’s vital to know which type of raspberry plant you have to understand when to trim raspberries. Prune summer-bearing plants in the late winter or early spring and again after the summer harvest.
Pruning for fall-bearing types varies depending on if you desire one-crop or two crops. For two crops, prune them the same way you trim summer-bearing types, and cut the canes down in the spring if you prefer one fall crop.
If you have black or purple raspberries, prune new shoots in early spring, in the summer, and again after the summer crop.
How to Prune Raspberries
Once you determine the right time to prune your particular raspberry shrub, it’s time to begin pruning raspberry bushes.
Before you grab your shears and start trimming away, here are a few tips to help you prune-raspberries the proper way to encourage healthy growth and fruiting canes.
The canes of raspberries are biennial, growing foliage the first year and berries the following summer, so pruning away dead canes helps them produce maximum yield.
First year canes grow fruit at the end of the branches, while second year canes have fruit along the entire branch. As a rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to prune first year raspberries to three to four feet tall and to the ground after fruiting the following year.
Clip back the lateral branches to 18 inches for purple raspberries and 12 inches for black raspberries. When pruning any type of bush or plant, be sure to use a sharp, clean pair of shears for a clean cut.
In the early spring, remove all but ten to 12 of the healthiest canes of summer-bearing or fall-bearing plants by cutting them down to the ground and removing any canes with cold damage.
Healthy canes are about a quarter-inch in diameter and six inches apart. Fall-bearers require a second pruning to the ground after they bear fruit in the fall.
Harvesting and Storing Raspberries
After planting, pruning, and caring for your raspberry plants, and they are a year-old, they begin to produce fruit.
Unfortunately, berries have a short shelf life, especially if you store them improperly. Here is how to pick raspberries and ways to keep them to keep the berries fresh and tasty.
Harvest your fruiting raspberries in the late summer or early fall when they have vibrant color. Pluck them off the branches by hand, being careful not to mash them. Gently grasp them with your fingers and tug at them, and they’ll come off easily.
Place them into a container, but avoid using only one basket if you’re harvesting a lot of berries all at once to avoid squishing them. The best time of the day to harvest raspberries is in the morning after the dew dries.
To store your fresh berries, place them unwashed in a shallow storage container and keep them in the fridge for up to two days. If you cannot eat them fast enough, the freezer is a great place to store them long-term to keep them from going to waste.
Begin by rinsing the berries under cool water. Make sure to dry them well with a paper towel and then spread them in an even layer over a baking pan covered with a sheet of parchment or wax paper.
Set them in the freezer to flash freeze them, and pour the frozen berries into a freezer-safe container or freezer bag before returning them to the freezer.
Frozen raspberries last up to a year, and they are excellent for adding to smoothies or baked goods and eating straight from the freezer.
How to Preserve Raspberries by Making Jam
While there are many ways to enjoy raspberries, preserving them by making jars of jam is one of the best ways to utilize a large berry crop.
This recipe is very simple to create, uses up four cups of your ripe berries, and yields two cups of sweet jam for spreading on bread or toast.
Pour the fresh raspberries into a colander and rinse them thoroughly beneath cool running water. Remove any stems, leaves, or spoiled berries and toss them in the trash. Add the berries to a medium saucepan with sugar and lemon juice.
Place the pan on medium heat and stir frequently until it comes to a boil. Turn the stove down to medium-low, and continue stirring while the jam simmers.
After 12 to 15 minutes, when the mixture thickens and dragging your spoon over the surface leaves a trail, remove it from the heat.
Scoop the raspberry jam into a jar, let it sit at room temperature to cool, and put the cover in place before storing it in the fridge. Use your homemade jam as a sandwich spread, or add it to vanilla yogurt.
Raspberry shrubs are relatively uncomplicated to grow, and they are perfect if your yard is not spacious enough to accommodate fruit trees.
There are many berry types to choose from to suit your tastes, and pruning the raspberry canes encourages healthy fruiting for a bountiful harvest.
Now that you know how to prune raspberries after growing them from seeds, cuttings, or young plants, why not share our raspberry growing guide and tips with your social circle on Pinterest and Facebook so they can enjoy a delicious berry harvest as well?