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Growing Red Raspberry

There are two categories of red raspberries (Rubus idaeus), the common raspberry, which ripens in early to midsummer and the so called ever bearing raspberry. Unlike ever bearing strawberries which produce fruit continuously over the summer, the ever bearing raspberry produces an early-summer crop on the previous season's growth and a fall crop on the current season's growth. Raspberries are valuable in home gardens because of the fruits fragile and perishable nature which prohibits the shipping of fresh berries. Raspberries grow best in climates where the spring is lingering and slow to warm, but may succeed in warmer climates if the are grown in light shade. A row or hill of raspberries will ordinarily produce good crops of fruit for 10 years or more, before they need replacement.

Planting raspberries

Raspberries grow best in rich,well-drained soil with a pH 6.0 to 6.5. They benefit from supplemental compost and manure. They should NOT be planted in an area where eggplants, peppers, potatoes or tomatoes have been grown within three years, because they are susceptible to verticicillium wilt which is associated with those plants.
New plants should be set in the soil about 2 inches deeper than they were originally growing. They should be planted in late fall or early spring about 2 to 2 1/2 feet apart in rows which are spaced about 7 to 8 feet apart. After planting, cut the canes back to 4 inches, leaving the stubs to mark the rows until new sprouts appear. Newly planted summer bearing raspberries should be left alone for the first year to establish themselves, and then cut back to 3-5 canes per plant when the buds begin to show in the following spring.

Care and cultivation

Raspberry plants should be fed in early spring by scattering all purpose 10-10-10 fertilizer around them at the rate of 1 pound per 10 feet of row. They must not be allowed to dry out during flowering and fruiting. In spring, shorten the canes to 3 feet, forcing the growth into lateral side branches which are trained along support wires.. After they produce fruit, the spent canes are cut back to the ground. With ever bearing varieties the second crop is produced on canes which sprout in the spring, these canes shouldn't be cut back until they produce fruit the following spring. Never cut off the new canes which haven't produced yet, they will produce the next years crop. Raspberries are easily propagated by tip layering (pin the tip of the cane to the ground, where it will root, then once rooted you may sever the new start from the parent plant), or from sucker growths which spring up around the parent plant.

Raspberry varieties

Summer bearing raspberries

Ever bearing raspberries

Fertilizer or lime applications are best made following the recommendations based on the soil testing results. Forms, sample bags, and instructions for soil testing can be obtained from your local Extension office. Soil fertility should be maintained by two applications of one pound of a 10-10-10 fertilizer or the equivalent per 100 feet of row at 10 and 40 days after planting. For the years after planting, raspberry plants need to be fertilized twice a year. The fertilizer should be broadcast in the row area once in the spring before growth begins in March, and one more time in May. Apply 2 to 3 pounds of a 10-10-10 fertilizer per 100 feet of row in each application.

It is very important to understand the terms used to describe various parts of a raspberry plant before attempting to prune raspberries. Raspberry canes are of two types, primocanes and floricanes. Primocanes are first year canes while floricanes are second-year fruiting canes.
Summer red raspberries should be pruned twice a year, first in the spring and immediately after harvest. The spring pruning, in late March or early April, consists of removing all weak canes and cutting back tall canes (over 5 feet) to 4.5 to 5 feet. The second pruning consists of the removal of canes that produced fruits, right after harvest.
Everbearing red raspberries such as "Heritage" raspberry can be pruned to produce fruit once a year or twice a year. If you follow the pruning methods used for summer red raspberries, "Heritage" raspberry will produce fruit once in spring and once in fall. However, many home gardeners and commercial growers mow or cut all "Heritage" canes to the ground in early spring (March or April) for the sake of simplicity. "Heritage" raspberry pruned this way will produce only one crop starting in early August in southern Ohio, and mid-August in central Ohio.
Black and purple raspberries are pruned three times a year: in the spring, summer, and after fruiting). First pruning is done in spring when lateral branches are cut back to 8 to 10 inches in length in mid-March. Second pruning is called tipping or heading of new canes or primocanes. When grown without supports, summer tipping is done when black raspberry canes reach 24 inches in height and when purple types reach 30 inches. Tipping is done by removing the top 2 to 3 inches of new shoots as they develop. Third pruning involves the removal of canes that produced fruits, right after the harvest.

Insects and Diseases:
The principal insects of raspberries are the raspberry cane borer, raspberry fruitworm, red-necked cane borer, and Japanese beetle. The common diseases on raspberries are mosaic virus, orange rust, anthracnose, cane blight, spur blight, crown or cane gall, and verticillium wilt. For additional information about growing raspberries, you may purchase Bulletin 591, Growing and Using Fruit at Home; Bulletin 783, Brambles, Production, Management and Marketing; and Bulletin 780, Controlling Diseases and Insects in Home Fruit Plantings from your local Extension office.

Supporting the Plants:
A trellis can help make the crop easier to manage and keep the canes off the ground so that berries are cleaner and easier to pick. A trellis can be constructed with posts at 15 to 20 foot intervals with cross arms to support wires placed 24 to 28 inches apart (Figure 4). The wires should be about 36 inches high for red raspberries and 40 inches high for the black and purple types.

Where To Grow A Raspberry Bush:
The major need for a raspberry plant is a moist soil, though heavy clay is not suitable. Light sandy soils are acceptable, as long as you are prepared to water weekly in the warmer summer months. For tip-top results with your raspberry plants the soil should be neutral, although raspberries are better than most plants in moderately acidic soils.

Flowering on raspberry bushes occurs late in the season, so protection against frost is not normally a problem. For this reason, areas which may be frost pockets (lower lying land) are likely to be acceptable. Although full sun in a bed running North to South is is the ideal position, raspberries grow naturally in woodland areas, so shade for part of the day will not cause problems.

How to Plant Raspberry Canes

When and How To Plant Raspberries October is the best month to plant raspberries, although planting can be done any time up to March if the weather and soil conditions are correct. Most soils are suitable for raspberries, but a little preparation will pay rewards, especially because they will remain in the same position for 10 to 12 years. Dig a row 30cm (1ft) deep by 1m (3ft) wide, working in as much well rotted compost as possible. Where more than one row is being planted, allow 1.7m (5ft) between rows in order to let the roots spread freely and give room for you to harvest the crop in summer.

Summer fruiting raspberries (the most common for gardeners) will require support during the growing season. Put the support poles and wires in place after digging, but before planting. Secure two 2.2m (7ft) poles in the ground at either end of the row. Tie two or three horizontal wires at 60cm (2ft) intervals to the poles. Tie the plants loosely to the wires when they begin to grow. Place the plants in the trench about 45cm (18in) apart, and cover the roots with soil 5cm (2in) above the existing soil mark on the stem. This will encourage more vigorous rooting. Work a handful of bonemeal per square metre (3ft) into the surface of the soil. Firm down the soil by lightly treading it down and water if the soil is not moist. Finally, cut the plants to 15cm (6in) from the ground as shown in the diagram above. This may seem a bit drastic but if the correct pruning for the first year is not carried out, the plants will be seriously weakened.


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Gaultheria procumbens) Wintergreen berries ripen starting in late August until winter and are bright red. They can be made into tea, eaten raw, or mixed into fresh fruit salad. Both leaves and fruit taste like wintergreen lifesavers. They are a native of the eastern United States and hardy to USDA Zones 3. This plant is a creeper and will spread outward 12 inches or more. Plant 12 inches apart, in partial or full shade. Needs a loose, acidic soil with high organic matter content. It grows to about 6 inches tall and makes a great edible red and evergreen ground-cover. 8" pots.