Raspberry

Raspberries are one of the most popular summer fruits and are very easy to grow. Different training techniques mean raspberries can be grown in gardens of any size and in containers.

Raspberry 'Polka'

Quick facts

Common name Raspberry
Botanical name Rubus idaeus
Group Cane fruit
Fruiting time Summer to autumn
Planting time November to March
Height & spread Variable, depends on training system used
Aspect Sun or part shade
Hardiness Fully hardy
Difficulty Easy to moderate

Cultivation notes

Raspberries thrive in moisture-retentive, fertile, slightly acidic soils pH 6.5-6.7, which are well-drained and weed-free. They dislike waterlogged soils and shallow chalky soils. For best results, plant in a sheltered, sunny position. They will tolerate light shade, but the yield is likely to be reduced.

In early March, apply Growmore or naturally slow-release general fertiliser, fish, blood and bone for example, at 30g per sq m (1oz per sq yd), then mulch with well-rotted organic matter. If the growth is weak, apply sulphate of ammonia at 30g per sq m (1oz per sq yd) or dried poultry manure pellets at 90g per sq m (3oz per sq yd). 

Keep raspberries well-watered during dry periods, but avoid overwatering. Avoiding drought stress is especially important during fruit set and development. Apply water preferably at ground level; drip irrigation systems or a leaky hose is ideal. Keeping the foliage, flowers and developing fruit dry helps to reduce the risk of fungal diseases.

Planting

Raspberries can be planted at any time during the dormant season, between November and March, providing the soil is not frozen or waterlogged. However, autumn is the best time to plant.

Raspberries are usually planted in rows and trained along a post and wire system. But, if you have a smaller garden, you can still grow raspberries, either in containers or trained up a single post (see below for more on training techniques).

  • Before planting, dig at least one bucketful of well-rotted organic matter per square yard into the soil, and fork in general fertiliser such as Growmore or naturally slow release general fertiliser such as fish, blood and bone at 90g per sq m (3oz per sq yd)
  • Plants should be 45-60cm (18in–2ft) apart, and if planting in rows, space the rows 1.8m (6ft) apart, ideally running north to south, so that they do not shade each other
  • If the soil is heavier and prone to getting wet, create a shallow, 7cm (3in) high ridge prior to planting, or consider constructing raised beds
  • Avoid deep planting. The first roots should be no more than 5cm (2in) below the soil level; use the nursery soil mark on the stem as a guide
  • Prune the canes to within 25cm (10in) of the ground after planting
  • Do not prune if summer-fruiting raspberries are supplied as ‘long canes’ - these are year-old, ready-to-fruit canes that will crop in the first season

Container growing

Single raspberry plants can be grown in 38cm (15in) diameter containers of 80 percent multipurpose compost and, to add weight for stability, 20 percent loam-based potting compost, training the canes up bamboo poles.

Keep the compost moist (using rainwater in hard water areas). If you run out of rain water, use tap water to prevent drying out of the compost. Feed with a liquid, general-purpose fertiliser monthly during the growing season.

Cultivars such as ‘Glen Fyne’ and dwarf raspberry ‘Ruby Beauty’ are better suited for container cultivation.

Pruning and training

Summer-fruiting (floricane) raspberries - produce flower and fruit on year-old canes (the previous season’s growth)

  • Cut back fruited canes to ground level after harvesting in summer, without leaving a stub
  • Select the strongest young canes, around six to eight per plant, and tie them in 10-15cm (4-6in) apart along the wire supports
  • Remove the remaining young stems at ground level
  • Loop longer canes over the top wire and tie them in. Then, in February, trim the long canes to a bud about 10cm (4in) above the top wire

Autumn-fruiting raspberries (primocane) – flower and fruit on the current season’s growth

  • Cut back all the canes to ground level in February
  • Reduce the number of canes slightly in summer if overcrowded
  • During summer remove any suckers growing away from the rows

Double cropping of autumn raspberries

Double cropping is useful if space does not allow growing summer fruiting cultivars as well.

  • Consider double-cropping once the canes are established and growing strongly. Cultivars such as ‘Joan J’, ‘Autumn Treasure’ and ‘Himbo Top’ are considered to be particularly well-suited to double-cropping
  • Instead of pruning all the previous season’s canes to ground level in February, select up to 6-8 of the strongest shoots per one metre (3ft) of row and prune off the upper part of the canes to where the fruit was produced last autumn. Prune the rest of the canes to ground level as normal
  • Prune out the canes at ground level immediately after they finished fruiting in summer
  • The canes will produce modest, but valuable earlier crop
  • The combined summer and autumn crop is at least five per cent greater than autumn crop alone

Raspberry 'Autumn Bliss' plants in a row
Summer fruiting raspberry plants in a row
Training a summer fruiting raspberry to its wires
Raspberries in winter
    Raspberry 'Autumn Bliss' plants in a row Summer fruiting raspberry plants in a row Training a summer fruiting raspberry to its wires Raspberries in winter

    Support systems

    Single post fence

    This system is ideal for summer-fruiting raspberries.

    • Drive 2.4m (8ft) long and 7.5cm (3in) diameter posts into the ground to a depth of 75cm (30in) at up to 3.6m (12ft) intervals
    • Stretch 12 gauge (2.5mm) galvanized wire between the posts at about 60cm (2ft) vertical intervals
    • If the cultivar is less vigorous, lower the top wire
    • Plant the summer-fruiting raspberries and tie in the canes along one side of the wires with twine
    • Aim to keep fruiting canes on one side and young new canes to the other side of the wires as the season progresses. In autumn, it is easier to prune out the fruited canes as the young canes will be separate along the other side of the wire

    Single or double post fence with parallel wires

    This system is well-suited to autumn-fruiting raspberries, and increases yield in a small space for summer-fruiting raspberries. Tying in of canes is not necessary. Picking is more difficult, and there is a greater chance of fungal problems in the more crowded conditions.

    Single post fence with parallel wires

    • Position 2.4m (8ft) long and 7.5cm (3in) diameter posts in the middle of the row and drive them into the ground to a depth of 75cm (30in) at up to 3.6m (12ft) apart
    • Attach horizontal cross bars 50-60cm (20in-2ft) long to the vertical posts at 75cm (30in) and 1.5m (5ft) from the ground
    • Stretch 12 gauge (2.5mm) galvanized wire between the horizontal cross bars
    • Stretch thin wire or garden twine between the parallel galvanized wires as cross ties, every 60cm (2ft) along

    Double fence with parallel wires

    • For double fence, fix the wires to posts positioned along each side of the row, 50-60cm (20in-2ft) apart, using 2.4m (8ft) long and 75mm (3in) diameter posts. Drive them into the ground to a depth of 75cm (30in) at up to 3.6m (12ft) apart
    • Stretch two sets of parallel wires horizontally at 75cm (30in) and 1.5m (5ft) from the ground
    • Stretch thin wire or garden twine between the parallel galvanized wires as cross ties, every 60cm (2ft) along

    Single post

    This system is ideal for the very small garden.

    • Drive a 2.4m (8ft) long and 7.5cm (3in) diameter post into the ground to a depth of 75cm (30in)
    • Plant two or three plants around the base and tie in the canes with garden twine

    Propagation

    Lift healthy suckers that appear between the rows and plant them as above. You can also divide large clumps.

    Only propagate from newly planted certified stock, as raspberries are prone to number of diseases and viruses.

    Cultivar Selection

    Summer fruiting (floricane) cultivars

    Early

    • ‘Glen Moy’: bearing heavy crops of large, good-flavoured fruits. Moderate vigour and spine-free canes
    • ‘Malling Minerva’: heavy crops of medium to large of well-flavoured fruit, good growing habit, easy to pick
    • 'Ruby Beauty': a compact, thornless, promising new cultivar reaching about 90cm tall producing  decent crop for its size. Suited for containers or confined situations

    Early – Mid-season

    Mid-season

    • ‘Glen Ample’ AGM: large fruit with excellent flavour, heavy crops spine-free canes
    • ‘Glen Prosen’: medium-sized, firm fruit, moderate vigour and producing good crops. It is well suited to wetter regions
    • ‘Glen Fyne’: conical fruit with very good flavour, good yields, spine-free canes

    Mid to late season

    • 'Malling Admiral’ AGM: good quality; medium to large, attractive fruit. Tolerant to wetter conditions. Not suitable for exposed sites
    • ‘Tulameen’ AGM: producing moderate number of vigorous canes. Very sweet, large berries with good flavour

    Late season

    • ‘Cascade Delight’: vigorous cultivar with firm, large fruit. Good for difficult conditions - tolerant of heavier, wetter soils
    • ‘Glen Magna’ AGM: vigorous long canes. Large fruit with good flavour fruit and yields
    • ‘Leo’ AGM: large, firm fruit; excellent flavour. Good crops. Long laterals
    • ‘Octavia’: very late ripening summer fruiting cultivar, large uniform fruit with good flavour

    Autumn fruiting (primocane) cultivars

    • 'All Gold' AGM: good yields of attractive yellow fruit, sport of ‘Autumn Bliss’
    • ‘Autumn Bliss’ AGM: good yields of medium - large and deep red fruit with and an excellent flavour. Best in sunny, sheltered site
    • 'Autumn Treasure': thornless upright canes, large, easy to pick conical berries. It is said to be disease resistant and tolerant of poorer soils
    • 'Fallgold': yellow fruited autumn raspberry
    • ‘Himbo Top’: producing tall canes, strong grower. Berries of good size and flavour. Good pest and disease resistance
    • ‘Joan J’ AGM: easy to grow, upright habit. High yields of well flavoured berries
    • ‘Polka’ AGM: large, flavoursome fruit from mid-summer until the first frosts; the canes require little support

    Links

    AGM fruit
    RHS Find a Plant

    Problems

    Raspberries may suffer from various problems, including pigeons, raspberry beetle, raspberry cane blight, raspberry leaf and bud miteraspberry spur blightreplant disease and raspberry viruses.

    The fruit fly - spotted wing drosophila (SWD) - is likely to become an increasing problem.

    On chalky and strongly alkaline soils raspberries are prone to iron deficiency, displaying interveinal chlorosis (yellowing between the leaf veins) or more uniform yellowing of the foliage starting at the growing tips.

    Raspberries can also suffer from magnesium deficiency, showing interveinal chlorosis of the foliage, sometimes with reddish brown tints starting at the older foliage.

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