Imagine homegrown raspberries, sweet, juicy and perfectly ripe, right in your yard every year. Today I’m gonna show you how I planted a new row of bareroot thornless raspberry bushes in my front yard garden and talk about the best soil, the best time and place to plant, how to plant the canes, spacing, amendments, depth, watering, drainage, fertilizer, pH, and more.
How Raspberries Grow
Raspberries are fruiting brambles, not trees, despite reaching a height of up to 9 feet. They’re part of the plant genus Rubus. They come in a variety of colors, like black, white, red, purple, and yellow, but the most popular and recognizable are the red raspberries, rubus idaeus.
Raspberries can bear fruit for up to 20 years since they have a perennial root system and crown. But, the canes themselves are biennial, meaning they live for two years each, with each cane bearing fruit the second year. First year canes are called primocanes (think, primo, for one), and second year canes are called floricanes because they canes set flower (think, flora, for flower).
The raspberries I’ll be planting are Encore Red Raspberry and Crimson Night, both red thornless raspberries from my favorite nursery Stark Bros. Some other popular varieties include Heritage, Anne, Joan, Jewel, and Fall Gold.
If you have a favorite raspberry variety you love, let us all know about it and your climate in the comments!
I chose these because they’re thornless, because I like to not be bleed while in the garden! (Just a personal preference!) I also picked them because they’re self-pollinating (because I have a small garden) and because the two varieties produce at different times of the year (so I’ll be able to extend my harvest over a longer portion of the year). One is a summer-bearing raspberry and the other is a fall-bearing raspberry, also called everbearing, because it bears in both the summer and fall.
Most raspberries are self-pollinating, meaning they don’t need another variety to bear fruit. If you have the room, though, try to do more than one variety, since cross-pollination increases fruit yields.
Best Place To Plant Raspberries
I’m gonna be adding my row of raspberries next to my two rows of blackberries in my front yard trellis area. This new row is part of one of my goals from my 2022 garden plan—to grow more fruit and use my space better.
Raspberry Sun Requirements
Like most things in the vegetable garden, raspberry plants thrive best in full sun, meaning 6-8 hours per day. That being said, they tolerate a placement in part shade a bit better than other fruiting plants like tomatoes or strawberries. They’ll just produce less fruit.
Sunscald or sunburn is a condition that can afflict raspberries when the sunlight is too bright, too long, or too sudden. It more commonly happens in the summer and makes the berries turn white and lose their flavor.
Don’t let this deter you from planting in full sun though, because there’s many ways to deal with this issue, if it happens to your plants at all.
Are Raspberry Plants Invasive?
In North America, raspberries are not technically considered invasive since they’re native and don’t generally cause damage. They do send out very vigorous suckers at the ground up to several feet away, though. You’ll want to either prune any outside the bed or regularly dig around the perimeter. Because my beds are surrounded by grass, any errant suckers are taken care of by my lawnmower.
Best Time to Plant Raspberries (Spring vs. Fall)
The best time to plant raspberries is the early spring, when the soil is workable and the ground has thawed. If your canes are dormant, meaning there are no leaves or new growth, you can plant before your last frost date in late winter since the plant will not be affected.
You can plant in the fall or at other times of the year too, but if your plant has leafed out you’ll need to protect it from a hard frost. Fall-planted raspberries should be slowly acclimated to colder temperatures so they go back into dormancy after you plant them.
No matter what time of year you plant, if temperatures are below freezing during planting, avoid exposing the roots to the air and get the plant into the ground as quickly as possible.
Raspberry Plant Spacing
I’m creating a new bed in my trellis area, so the first thing I had to do was mark out the area. If you’re doing a row of raspberries, ideally the row should be 12-18 wide, no wider than 2.5 feet. For my bed, I went with the larger width.
Within the rows, each plant should be spaced 2-3 feet apart. My rows are 13 feet long, so I planned for 4 plants, although I probably could have planted up to 6 in that space.
The average raspberry plant yields 1-2 quarts of fruit per year. Stark Bros, the nursery I bought my plants from, recommends planting 4-5 plants per person in your family.
Raspberries & Drainage
Raspberries are prone to root rot and need well-draining soil. So once I got the area marked out, I tilled the soil up using my broadfork, one of the most underrated ways to create a new bed, and also… to HAVE A HEART ATTACK!
I used to have a really big tree on this corner, and I just found out that all the roots are still under the ground. I was able to leverage the broadfork to get the rocks and a lot of roots out but some of them I had to attack with pruning saw and loppers.
After that I pulled out all the big clumps of grass and weeds so they wouldn’t take over the bed after I planted the raspberries.
If you have seriously compacted soil, just a simple tilling might not do it. Consider planting in raised beds, planting a cover crop if you have time, or amending with organic matter like compost.
Best Soil For Raspberries
Raspberries like rich soil. So regardless of whether or not you need to improve the drainage, compost makes a great amendment because it’s one of the best ways to increase fertility, too. Apply it at a rate of 3 ½ cubic feet per 100 square feet. My bed was 39 square feet, so I needed to apply a little over 1 cubic foot.
My compost bins were running low — I never seem to have enough of this stuff! So, I ended up using purchased compost that I get from a local horse farm, made of horse manure, hay, wood shavings and yard waste.
Fertilizing Raspberries & Soil pH
If you’re planting in summer or fall, don’t fertilize raspberry plants because it will force new growth that will be damaged by a hard frost.
If you’re planting in the late winter or spring, like me, fertilize the raspberry bed with a 10-10-10 fertilizer at a rate of 25 lbs. per 1000 square feet. That meant my 39 sqft bed needed a little under 1 lb. of 10-10-10 fertilizer.
Raspberries like acidic soil, a level of 5.6-6.2. If you’re not sure what your soil pH is, you can pick up a fairly inexpensive pH testing kit online.
I needed to acidify my soil, but I also needed to add fertilizer, so I used a 4-3-6 acid fertilizer which I also use for my blueberries and blackberries. Because it had about half the value of a 10-10-10, I used 2 lbs. instead of 1 lb. of fertilizer.
After that, I incorporated the compost and fertilizer into the soil with my garden fork and then leveled off the bed with a rake.
How To Plant Raspberries
Bareroot Vs. Plants
Like strawberries, most raspberry plants are sold bareroot, meaning they come dormant without soil, usually wrapped in just plastic, some shredded paper and a rubber band. If you’ve never seen these pathetic things before, you’re gonna be completely unimpressed and want to complain to the company that your plants are dead, but hold on.
As usual, I was running late with my planting, so I threw the canes into a pot with some potting mix, watered them, put them outside to wait, and they grew beautifully while I prepped the bed.
If you’re planting bareroot plants, soak the roots in water for 1-2 hours before planting, no longer than 6 hours. You can plant bareroot canes at any time of the year. If you’re transplanting potted raspberry plants, like I technically was at this point, you don’t have to soak the roots
Make sure to plant so that the crown is above the soil line. You should see a soil line mark on the cane where it was planted before.
Tamp down the soil and water well to settle the soil and collapse any air pockets. You can hand-water or set up irrigation like I did.
I use the Snip & Drip system from Garden Supply. It took me about a half hour to customize an extension to the existing irrigation lines already in my trellis area.
If you guys are interested in seeing more about how I set up this system, let me know in the comments.
To retain moisture, keep down weeds, and prevent frost damage, it’s a good idea to mulch. If however, you have drainage or rodent issues, skip the mulch. Mulch can make both of these problems worse.
If you do apply mulch, don’t apply it too thickly as it may inhibit the raspberry suckers from sprouting in your bed. These suckers will be the source of your fruit NEXT YEAR, so you don’t want smother these.
Trellis For Raspberries
Unless you have a creeping raspberry, you’ll need some type of support for your raspberries. Trellises keep the raspberries upright and contained, make it easier to harvest, improve airflow, reduce disease, and improve fruit quality.
You don’t have to build the trellis before or even immediately after planting, but you’ll need to do it within the year of planting.
The most popular types of trellises for red raspberries are V trellises and T trellises with trellis wires 3.5 feet apart on both types to accommodate the width of the raspberry plants. I plan on building a T trellis like my blackberry trellis that matches the rest of my vegetable trellises.
Raspberry Plant Care
There is so much that goes into caring for raspberries once they’re planted—pruning, fertilizing, disease and pest management, harvesting, irrigation…
Now that you’ve got your raspberries in the ground, let me know if you guys want me to do a separate video on caring for raspberries. And let me know YOUR tips for planting and getting the biggest harvests.
I hope this post helped you out. If it did, let me know in the comments. Be sure to subscribe for more garden tips and tutorials and if you know anybody who would love this post, definitely share it with them. Keep gardening like a boss and I’ll see you guys soon!
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