Raspberries are an especially rewarding fruit to grow. They’re delightfully delicious, packed with nutrients and antioxidants, and easy to take care of. Plus, it’s so much easier to head out to the backyard for fresh fruit than running to the grocery store.
When planning for raspberries, it’s important to make sure you have a roomy spot. They can get relatively large—so be sure you allow for them to grow and spread. It’s also key to decide what type you want. Red, gold, and black varieties are available, and you can get everbearing (also called fall-bearing) or June-bearing types. Everbearing raspberries produce fruit over a longer period in late summer and fall; June-bearing types produce a heavy crop all at once in early summer.
Because raspberries are vigorous, spreading plants, they can be a challenge to mix with other fruit, vegetables, or herbs and are best suited to growing in a patch by themselves. This is especially true for red and gold raspberry varieties, as they tend to send out runners that can pop up feet away from the mother plant. Larger raspberry varieties also benefit from support, such as growing on a fence or trellis.
Thorny raspberries can be planted around the edges of your yard and used like a fence or physical barrier. Avoid planting them near driveways or walkways, however, because of their thorns. Don't have just the right spot to plant them in the ground? Smaller raspberry varieties are perfect for growing in large containers.
Raspberry Plant Care
Plant your raspberries in a spot that has full sun (at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sun per day) to keep your plants healthy and productive. While these fruits tolerate and grow in partial or even full shade, they're more susceptible to disease and produce fewer and lower-quality berries than when they're grown in the sun.
Raspberries don't have particular soil requirements, but like most fruits and vegetables, they do best in moist, well-drained soil that's rich in organic matter. If your ground has a high clay content, amend liberally with organic matter at planting time to help give your berries the best possible start.
Prune raspberries to keep them healthy and productive. It's best to do this in two waves. The first wave happens in spring and is called tip pruning. It simply means to cut off the top couple inches of new growth. This encourages your raspberries to produce more side branches—which means more fruit. The second wave of pruning happens in fall. Remove any stems that produced fruit; those stems won't produce fruit next year. Removing these spent stems will keep your blackberry patch from getting overgrown and can help reduce incidence of disease.
Plant breeders are working hard to make new varieties of raspberries better than ever. Look for newer types to be more compact, disease resistant, or hardy.