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.
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
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.