Planting, growing and pruning raspberries

Raspberries are cool-climate berries that taste best when eaten fresh from the cane. Bearing a harvest of delicate fruits in either summer or autumn, depending on variety, they are easy to grow, delivering an abundant harvest and requiring very little space.

What you need to know about raspberries

Name: raspberries (Rubus idaeus)

Height: canes up to 1.5–2m

Foliage: deciduous.

Climate: prefers cold temperate climates, but can be grown anywhere apples grow.

Soil: prefers deep, well-drained soil enriched with compost and decomposed manure.

Position: full sun or part-shade.

Flowering and fruiting: as their name suggests, summer varieties bear their crop in summer, while autumn varieties are harvested in autumn.

Feeding: apply a mulch of compost and decomposed manure in winter, and an application of slow-release fertiliser for fruiting plants in spring.  

Watering: water regularly during fruiting to ensure berries are lush and full.

ripe raspberry fruit

Appearance and characteristics of raspberries

Raspberries grow on thorned or thornless canes, just like blackberries. Train raspberries up a trellis or fence to contain their growth and help them maintain a vertical habit. As the canes are naturally spreading, pruning is critical to crop production and plant maintenance. Prune after harvest, and always net developing fruit to prevent birds stealing your entire harvest.

How to grow raspberries

Grow raspberries in rows running north to south to maximise exposure to sun throughout the entire day. 

Install a trellis or a couple of wires spaced around 50–70cm apart to support the canes, and to keep their growth in check. 

When to plant raspberries

Plant canes in winter while dormant.

How to plant raspberries

1. Soak bare-root plants in a seaweed solution for about 1 hour prior to planting. 

2. Space plants about 1m apart, digging a hole at least 30 × 30cm. 

3. Backfill a mound in the centre of the hole and check that the finished soil level is equal to the height the plants were growing in the field or pot. 

4. Put a plant in each hole and fan the roots out and down, then backfill with soil. 

5. Firm the soil down and water to remove any air pockets. 

6. Mulch to reduce weed growth. 

Caring for raspberries

Water regularly during fruit production and when weather is dry. Fertilise in spring with a complete fertiliser to encourage spring growth. Mulch with compost and decomposed manure in winter while dormant.  

How and when to prune raspberry plants

Autumn fruiting varieties such as “Autumn Bliss” and “Heritage” should be pruned to the ground in winter. 

Summer fruiting varieties such as “Willamette” and “Skeena” should be pruned after fruiting. 

Remove the canes that cropped this year, but leave the new canes, as these will bear next year’s crop. These can then be tied to your trellis.

Diseases and pests

Raspberries are prone to fungal problems, especially in warm climates. Space plants at least 1m apart and train the canes upwards to improve air flow. Avoid overhead watering. As a preventative, treat with a copper spray in winter.

Propagating raspberries

Raspberries can be readily propagated by suckers; these are small plants that readily develop off the spreading root system. Remove suckers to prevent the canes spreading throughout the garden. These suckers can be shared with family and friends, or used to replace your own canes when they tire in around 7–8 years.

If you like this then try

Strawberries: the tastiest berry to eat fresh from your garden.

Loganberries: a thornless berry with delicious large berries in summer

Apples: enjoy the same climate and growing conditions as raspberries.

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