Raspberries are one of the easiest and tastiest fruits to grow and harvest, offering wonderful crops over quite a long period. They’re ideal for growing in the UK and are well suited to the weather conditions we experience.
Buying raspberries in a supermarket is expensive; they’re much more cost effective when grown
from plants in borders and containers at home.
Types of raspberries
Raspberries are defined into two different harvesting types:
- Autumn-fruiting raspberries – ready to harvest from late August to October.
- Summer-fruiting raspberries – ready to harvest from early summer.
How to prepare the soil for raspberry plants
Raspberries like weed-free, fertile, well-drained soil that’s not soggy or chalky.
- About a month before planting, add a thick layer of bulky compost to the soil to increase fertility and texture.
- Just before planting, sprinkle general-purpose fertiliser over the soil.
Plants can grow in part shade, but it’s better to select a sunny spot to grow that’s sheltered from the wind.
How to plant autumn-fruiting raspberries
Autumn-fruiting raspberry plants can be planted any time between November and March, but not when the soil is waterlogged or hardened by frost.
- Soak the bare-root canes in a bucket of water to hydrate the roots while you prepare the holes.
- Dig a trench 3inches (7.5cm) deep and 12inches (30cm) wide. Make holes with a fork in the side of the trench to encourage root growth.
- Place the canes (plants) 1.5ft (45cm) apart in the trench, spreading out the roots before firming in the soil around them.
- Make sure the canes are sturdy and upright.
- Snip back the cane to about 12inches (30cm) above the soil. This promotes a vigorous growth and leaves.
- Autumn-fruiting plants are strong enough to support themselves while growing tall, but some posts and supporting wires may be needed if they grow and lean towards the sun.
How to plant summer-fruiting raspberries
Summer-fruiting raspberry canes can also be planted from November to March. These will need support, usually from wire strips attached to posts fixed at either end of the planting trench.
Tips for planting short cane varieties:
- Cut down the cane to about 1inch (2cm) above ground level in the first spring. This will encourage multiple canes to grow.
- Tie and support canes as they grow in the first summer. You may not get harvests in the first summer while the plants establish.
- If you notice flowers in the first summer, remove them to encourage vigorous plant growth for future harvests.
- In the following summer, harvest the fruits and prune the fruiting stems to ground level after harvests.
- There should be strong leafy (non-fruiting) stems emerging from the ground. Tie these onto the supports, as these will flower and fruit the following summer.
- Repeat the late summer pruning each year.
Tips for planting long cane varieties:
- Don’t cut long cane types down at planting.
- Fruit forms on side shoots near the top of the plant, while new growth appears at the base. This basal growth forms fruits the following year.
- Support the canes, remove any first-summer flowers and prune in the same way as for short-cane varieties (see above).
How to grow raspberries in containers
Raspberries are perfectly suited to growing in containers and pots.
- Add a single plant to a container that’s at least 15inches (38cm) wide.
- The soil should be 80% multi-purpose compost and 20% potting compost that’s loam based.
- Feed monthly with a general-purpose liquid fertiliser and keep the soil moist.
- Use a bamboo cane to support the plant when it grows.
Raspberries need lots of water, with daily morning and evening watering advisable in hot weather. Adding mulch keeps moisture in the soil.
How to harvest raspberries
When the raspberries are full coloured, pick the fresh fruit from the stems. Try to do this on a dry day because the fruit won’t last as long when it’s wet.
Fruits can be easily frozen and thawed for future use – use from the freezer in smoothies and ice cream.
How to protect raspberries
Adding netting around the canes once fruit appears will keep birds and animals away from the plants.