When to Plant Raspberries
Raspberries should be planted in early spring, but you’ll want to prepare the soil at your selected site in the fall by adding compost, peat moss, or well-rotted manure, and letting it settle over the winter. If you haven’t had a chance to prepare your bed in advance, your berries will still do just fine if you mix compost into the soil just prior to planting.
Where to Plant Raspberries
Raspberries prefer a sunny spot with sandy loam soil with a high ratio of organic matter. They do not grow well in soil with poor drainage.
You should avoid planting in locations where tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant, or strawberries were planted within the last five years, as these may harbor fungal diseases that can infect and kill your raspberries' roots.
How to Plant Raspberries
- Plant raspberries in rows with the plants 2 feet apart. If you plant more than one row, leave no less than 8 feet between the rows to ensure good air circulation. This will help prevent fungal diseases.
- Dig a shallow hole large enough to fit all the roots and cover the roots slightly higher than how they were grown. Raspberries have shallow root systems, and will not tolerate water pooling around the crown—the clumpy part of the plant at ground level, where the roots below ground and the canes above ground meet.
- A Cane is the portion of the plant that is above ground and either bears leaves or fruits depending on the type of plant.
- Cut the canes back to five to six inches above the ground.
- Water the plants. Keep the soil around the roots moist (but not sopping wet) for at least one week. You can use mulch around the plants to retain moisture and control weeds.
Caring for Your Raspberry Patch
As the canes grow, you can install a trellis system to help the air circulate within the brambles. Cedar posts about 7 feet high and 8 feet apart with two to three horizontal guide wires work well to support raspberries. This system pays off over time. Hot tip: It’s easier to pick fruit if you tie the brambles to the wire during the growing season with cotton twine.
Fertilize the raspberries annually in early spring with a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer (containing equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash). Another way to improve the soil quality is to add well-rotted manure or mushroom soil to the bed once a year.
Once raspberries are established, they require little maintenance except for pruning and controlling their suckers. If your raspberries start sending suckers outside of their row, shove deeply a spade between the main crown and suckers of the plant, severing them from the main stem. Remove this portion and discard.
Raspberries can be invasive and are prolific growers so annual or biennial pruning is a must. Moreover, pruning is crucial for maintaining healthy, disease-free raspberry brambles. Summer-bearing raspberries are pruned right after the fall harvest, the canes that just finished fruiting should be cut to the ground. The remaining new canes should be thinned out in the spring, leaving three to four of the largest remaining canes per foot of row.
Although fall-bearing types can be pruned to yield two crops per year, you can get a better crop if you prune to encourage just a single harvest in late summer. To do this, cut all canes to the ground in the fall. In the following spring, after new canes have started growing but before the end of July, thin out the new canes to only leave three or four per foot in a row.