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How to Plant Raspberries
Raspberry varieties, which come in an array of bright hues, fall into two main categories: Summer-bearing raspberries, which bear fruit in mid-summer on the previous year’s growth; and everbearing, or fall-bearing raspberries, which produce fruit on new canes (branches) in the fall and following summer.
Purchase year-old canes from a garden center or nursery to reduce the wait time for fruit production.
- Pick the site. Raspberry plants need full sun (though it can tolerate partial shade), good air circulation, and shelter from high wind. Avoid planting raspberries alongside nightshades like eggplant, potato, or tomatoes, as they are particularly susceptible to soil-borne fungal diseases like verticillium.
- Prepare the site. A few weeks before planting, churn a few inches of compost or aged manure into the soil.
- Plant. Planting holes should be fairly deep, with enough room for the raspberry’s root system to spread. (If planting a full patch, dig a trench and space the plants evenly—at least 18 inches apart.) Place the new cane in the hole, with the crown of its roots an inch above ground. Fill in the hole with soil and tamp down firmly around the canes. Using pruning shears, trim all canes to about 9 inches. Establish a trellis or fence for easier harvesting and plant support.
How to Care for Raspberries
Raspberry bushes can produce fruit for up to 20 years with proper care and routine maintenance.
- Water weekly. Raspberry bushes need about one to one and half inches of water a week. Drip irrigation provides an easy way to manage the watering of your raspberry plants.
- Mulch to control weeds. Mulching the base of your bushes with organic matter will help keep weeds at bay, regulate soil moisture, and prevent root rot. Reapply mulch as needed throughout the season.
- Practice companion planting. Companion planting helps pollination by attracting bees, raspberry’s primary pollinators, and repelling destructive insects like aphids, spider mites, and Japanese beetles. Companion planting is also a helpful way to control soil-borne fungal diseases.
How to Prune Raspberry Bushes
It’s important to prune raspberries every year, removing dead canes at the end of each season to make way for new growth the following summer. First-year green canes are called primocanes. In the second year, they develop brown bark and are known as floricanes, which produce fruit and then die off. Remove these dead canes to make way for the new growth—another round of primocanes—to keep the cycle going.
To prune summer-bearing raspberries, cut away the branches that bore fruit (you can identify these fruit-bearing branches by their brown color). Ever-bearing raspberries need to be cut down entirely to ground level in late winter, prior to the growing season in spring.
How to Harvest Raspberries
All raspberry varieties begin fruiting in their second growing season and are incredibly productive once they get going. Raspberries begin to ripen on a bi-weekly basis from early summer through the first frost of fall, so routine picking is necessary.
Harvest raspberries on hot, dry days for best results. Pull gently on the ripe fruit, and it should leave the stem with little resistance.
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