How To Plant And Grow Raspberries

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This article provides helpful tips and instructions for planting raspberry plants
by Brett · All Zones · Planting · 0 Comments · October 15, 2013 · 5,377 views

If you're looking for edible plants that are easy to grow and take up little space, definitely consider raspberries. They are self-fertile and so will produce fruit even if only one plant is grown.

Best Growing Conditions...

Sun - The best and most berries will be produced when raspberries are planted in an open site that receives at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight.

Soil - Raspberries will grow reasonably well in most soil types except for very compacted clay or light chalky soil. In these soils it'll be worth your time to mix in lots of organic compost to condition the soil and add beneficial nutrients and bacteria plants need to grow healthy. Raspberries grow and produce the best fruit in well-drained, moist and fertile soil that is rich in organic matter. They like the soil to hold a good supply of water, especially when the fruits are developing in summer, but not so much water that the soil stays constantly soggy or wet. Plant raspberry bushes on ridges or in raised beds if drainage is a problem.

Soil pH - Raspberries do best in an acidic soil between 5.8 and 6.5 on the pH scale. It's a good idea to test the soil for pH. Testing kits are available at most local nursery and garden centers or you can buy soil test kits online here. Your local Extension Service might provide soil testing services as well. Depending on the results of the soil test, you can add lime to raise the pH or soil sulfur to lower the pH (make more acid).

NOTE: Avoid planting raspberries within 300 feet of any wild blackberry or wild raspberry plants and in areas where tomatoes, potatoes, or eggplants have been grown previously.

When To Plant A Raspberry

Bareroot plants - Plant these in late winter or early spring. Roots of raspberry berries are very sensitive to light so it's best to plant them on a cloudy day.

Container-grown plants - These can be planted year round.

Spacing Raspberry Plants

Red Raspberries - The favored planting system for red raspberries is the narrow hedgerow. Set red or yellow raspberries every 2 to 3 feet, in rows at least 6 feet apart. Allow new primocanes to spread along the row but not wider than 12 inches. Wider rows invite fungal diseases because of slow drying conditions.

Black & Purple Raspberries - Set these out with 4 feet between plants and 8 feet between rows. Because these cultivars do not produce root suckers, they should be maintained in a hill system. The “hill” does not mean mounding the soil; it refers to the cluster of canes that develops from a single plant. Although black and purple raspberries do not send up new primocanes outside the hill, they can spread: the long, vigorous canes often arch down to the soil surface, where they may take root. It’s important to keep the canes controlled and trellised.

How To Plant A Raspberry

The planting methods for raspberry will vary depending on whether you purchased bareroot or container-grown plants. All varieties of raspberry will appreciate support in the form of a fence or a simple trellis system.

SEE: Building A Trellis for Growing Raspberries

If your plant is bareroot: Before planting, shake the packaging material off the roots and then soak the roots in a bucket of water for several hours before planting. This keeps the roots from drying out, which you definitely don't want to happen. This is one reason I prefer container-grown braspberry plants. Cut newly planted bareroot raspberries canes to 6 inches in height.

  • Step 1 - If you're planting raspberries in a row, the soil can be tilled to 8 to 12 inches deep in a band a few feet wide. If the planting site stays consistently soggy, plant on raised beds or mounds 6 inches or more in height and several feet wide to ensure good drainage. Otherwise, if you are planting plants individually in the ground, without tilling, dig a hole wide enough to accomodate the roots without crowding them. To plant a container-grown blackberry, dig a hole two to three times as wide and a few inches deeper than the root ball. Place dirt removed from the planting hole around the perimeter of the hole.

  • Step 2 - If your soil is fertile and well-drained there is not a need to add compost or soil conditioner. If your soil is heavy clay or not very fertile, thoroughly mix oragnic compost such as composted cow manure or mushroom compost at a 50/50 ratio with the native soil removed from the planting hole.

  • Step 3 - If planting a container-grown raspberry, remove the rootball from the container and set the plant in the hole with the top edge of the rootball at or slightly above ground level to allow for settling. Bareroot plants should be set in the hole so that the crown is at ground level.

  • Step 4 - While holding on the the plant use your other hand to start pulling your backfill soil around the roots, gently tamping as you go to remove air pockets. When hole is three-quaters full of soil pour a gallon or so of water into the hole. Finish backfilling, lightly tamping as you go, and then water thoroughly.

  • Step 5 - In the absence of a soil test, fertilize with a well-balanced, non-burning, organic plant food at planting time, following instructions on label.

  • Step 6 - Mulch around plants with one- to two-inch layer of pine straw or shredded wood or bark mulch. This helps to conserve water and prohibit weed growth.

Other Helpful Tips

  • Composted manure is a good source of nutrients and can be incorporated prior to or when planting at a rate of 3.5 cu. feet per 100 sq. feet, to improve soil structure and provide nutrients. On established plantings, apply the same rate for plant nutrition.

  • Raspberries benefit from mulching. Good mulches for use in the home garden include leaves, lawn clippings, and wood chips or shavings, because they are usually free of weed seeds. If you are using homemade compost, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of ammonium nitrate per bushel of compost material to speed decomposition and protect against nitrogen deficiency in the plants.

  • Plentiful water is important for raspberries from spring until after harvest. Because the root system is in the top two feet of soil, watering regularly is more beneficial than an occasional deep soaking. Raspberries need 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week from flowering until harvest. Use a rain gauge or check reported rainfall, and irrigate accordingly.

Happy Raspberry Growing!


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