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Raspberries Gardening Guide

IMPORTANT: Please note that your plants have been shipped bare root in a dormant state, and are not likely to be in leaf upon arrival. It is easier for plants to establish the vigorous root systems required for good growth when they are planted in cool weather in a dormant state.

Plant your raspberries as soon as possible after you receive them. If you cannot plant them right away, set the plants in their shipping wrappers in a cool, dark location. If the plants must be held longer than a few days, unwrap packing material, moisten roots thoroughly with warm water and rewrap. Roots must never dry out—keep them moist until they are covered with soil.

Raspberries can also be “heeled in” for several weeks or held over the winter by burying them in a shallow trench, leaving plant tops at about a 45° angle, until you can plant them in their permanent locations.

How to Care for Your Cane Fruits

Cane fruits thrive in full sun, and well-drained, moist soil. To avoid possible disease problems, do not plant any raspberries near wild brambles. Prepare the soil before planting by mixing compost or other organic matter in with the soil. Work the soil deeply. Before planting, trim very long or broken roots. Cut back top growth to 6".

Space plants at least 3' apart in rows 6' apart. Set red raspberry roots 2-3" deeper than they were grown in the nursery, and other cane fruits about 1-2" deeper than they were grown in the nursery.

Cultivate soil around plants until midsummer during the first year of growth. Mulch plants to a depth of 3-4" to prevent weeds and conserve moisture. Add mulch every year as needed.

Cane fruits seldom need support when they are properly pruned. To prevent wind damage and to make harvesting easier, however, canes may be individually tied to two parallel wires strung between posts at
either end of the row.

Where winters are severe, lay canes on the ground and cover with a mulch of straw or evergreen branches in fall. Remove the covering in early spring.

Destroy all wild brambles near cultivated varieties to prevent virus diseases. Remove and destroy old canes immediately after fruiting and rake up and remove fallen leaves and fruit to help prevent fungus diseases. Check with your local Cooperative Extension Service for recommended pest controls in your area.

Repeat these 4 steps each year:
1) select the most vigorous canes;
2) cut them back to 30";
3) prune back the previous year’s laterals;
4) remove canes after laterals have borne fruit.

Pruning Raspberries

Prune in late winter or early spring while the bushes are dormant. The first three years, remove small lateral shoots and thin out excessive bushy growth. After the third year, annually remove 1/4-1/3 of the old wood, any
dead or injured branches, and those close to the ground. Remove flowers the first year to strengthen plants.

Raspberries, Standard
Each year pull out all but 5 or 6 of the most vigorous canes of each plant, about 6 inches apart, to improve fruit production. Prune these to about 30 inches to encourage lateral branches. They will bear fruit the following year, and should be cut to the ground after harvest.

Raspberries, Everbearing
These bear fruit twice on the same cane. Prune new shoots each year as standard raspberries. New shoots bear fruit at the tips in fall, and further down on the cane the following spring. Cut back old canes after the second crop is harvested.

Read the next Article: Small Fruit Gardening Guide

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Gardening Tip of the Day

  • Certain plants are suited for early fall planting. If they are in the ground by mid-September, roots will have time to develop before the ground freezes. Plant only container grown or balled and burlap wrapped plants and mulch them well. Do not fertilize.
    English ivy, willowleaf, cotoneaster, Japanese holly, evergreen rhododendrons and azaleas, English yew, leatherleaf viburnum, and wintergreen barberry can all be planted in the fall.