How to plant and care for raspberries
Site and aspect
- The ideal situation for raspberries is a sheltered, sunny site with fertile, humus-rich, free-draining soil, preferably slightly acid to neutral. They will tolerate partial shade, although the fruit won’t be as sweet.
- What they won’t tolerate is poor drainage, heavy soils or thin chalky soils.
- Space the plants around 45-60cm (18in–2ft) apart if planting in rows.
- Rows should be at least 1.5m (5ft) apart.
- Once established, raspberries like to spread, so it’s a good idea to choose a site surrounded by grass, so you can mow off any unwanted suckers.
- Ideally, a month before planting, dig out deep-rooted weeds and dig a trench about 60cm (2ft) wide and 45cm (18in) deep for each row. Add some well-rotted garden compost, manure or leaf-mould at the bottom, then backfill, raking in some bonemeal. Then allow the soil to settle before planting.
- If you’re planting summer raspberries, you need to put up supports for them (see above).
- Don’t plant if the ground is frozen or very wet; wrap the roots of bare-rooted plants in damp sacking and keep in a shed until the ground thaws or dries out a little.
- Soak the roots of bareroot raspberries in water for an hour before planting.
- Don’t forget to plant shallowly and firm in well; then water well.
When to plant
- Bare-root raspberries can be planted in the dormant season, between November and March, the earlier the better.
- Potted plants can be planted at any time, though again, it’s better to plant at the end of year, to avail of winter rain.
Summer fruiting raspberries:
- If you choose early, mid-season and late varieties, you can pick from early July until early August.
- Summer raspberries fruit on one-year old wood, in an ideal situation the new canes would be tied into three rows of parallel galvanised wires between posts, ideally running north-south; the tallest wire should be 2m (6ft) above ground. Tying them in protects the canes from winter storms, and you may need to tie the tops of the canes along the top wire.
- In small gardens, where space might be limited,the wires can be fixed to posts along a sunny fence and grown behind the wires, or simply train 2-3 plants round a single post.
- Summer raspberries should be cut back hard after planting. As canes appear next spring, tie the strongest ones into the wires, fanning them out well. Prune out spindly canes. The following year, they will produce fruit; after fruiting cut them to the ground, and tie in the new growth.
Autumn fruiting raspberries:
- These fruit on new wood, from late August until October, stopping after the first frosts (even if they become less sweet late in the year, they still make delicious jam!)
- They don’t need any support – simply cut back the canes hard in February, earlier if the site is exposed. New canes will produce fruit in the same year. You can even leave a few canes standing – they will give you a little summer fruit.
Particular needs of raspberries
- Don't plant them too deep. As well as heavy soils that lie wet in winter and poor drainage, one of the main reasons for raspberries to fail is when the canes are planted too deeply. If they’re planted too deeply, the emerging canes might not come through, and the raspberries can fail. The roots should be just covered, firmed in with your hands or gently with your feet, to remove air-pockets and prevent wind-rock.
- Potted raspberries should be planted at the same soil level in the ground as in the pot.
- Raspberries can also suffer in prolonged drought; never let the soil dry out completely.
If you give your raspberries a really good start, they will produce lots of delicious fruit for many years to come. Click here to browse our range of Raspberries.
- Maria Collard