Growing Raspberries: From Planting to Harvesting and Natural Insect Control, What You Need To Know

Growing raspberries is a subject near and dear to my heart.

This fruit - when added to good vanilla ice cream - is my all-time favorite dessert. Nothing compares in my mind. So here's how I grow my plants. (And no -combining them with strawberries or rhubarb or apples is not a good idea) :-)

Growing Conditions

Full sunshine. Don't even begin to wish for a harvest in shade. At least 6-8 full hot sun-hours a day.

If you can grow great roses in this spot, you'll be good for growing raspberries.

Even moisture. The key to obtaining good berries is to have good soil with even moisture when the berries are setting flower and fruit. Without the moisture, your berries will be small and tough.

Organic soils. Growing raspberries thrive on organic matter and adding copious amounts of compost or composted manure is a time-honored method of producing great harvests.

Growing Raspberries - Planting

Put new canes 18-inches apart in the rows. Put the rows at least 4-feet apart.

All approximately 6 canes to develop in each square foot of the row. Rogue out the dead and weaker canes in the spring to only leave 6.


A berry grows a cane the first year (doesn't fruit on it). The second year, this cane fruits and then dies.

You'll know the berry is ripe when you can put your fingertips on it and gently pulling - separate it from the core.

Unripe berries are hard.

Too ripe berries crumble away from the core or are soft and pulpy.

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You can obtain more plants by digging up runners in the early spring or fall.

A good patch will produce scads of runners and you'll have to control them (by digging them out) or the patch will expand to vast (unharvestable) proportions.

You can also layer (see propagation section) raspberries but this is (in my opinion) way too much messing about when division is so much easier.

Cultural Care

Because a raspberry cane grows in year one (doesn't fruit) and then produces the fruit in year two, you'll always have year one and year two canes in each square foot.

In the early spring, you reduce the number of canes to six in each square foot. Do this by removing all the dead canes first (they're brown and gray and obviously dead). The prune out the weak and smaller canes leaving 6 big thick canes in each square foot of row. These strong year two canes will produce fruit and another crop of young canes. The row will become crowded over the summer (which is why you cleaned and pruned in the spring) as the canes grow.

If the canes are thin, you're either too crowded (left too many canes in the spring) or you're not feeding enough or not enough sunshine is penetrating to the plants.

Keep your rows as narrow as you can (one foot is ideal for harvesting) - you can mow the adventurous shoots off or dig them up in the spring or fall. You keep the rows narrow so the wind and sun can penetrate into the plants - keeping them healthy and disease free.

Everbearing Plants

The deal with everbearing plants is they grow like regular berries - with one minor detail. The new canes produce a crop of berries on new wood in the fall.

So - a new cane produces a small crop of berries in the fall. Then it overwinters and produces a crop of berries in the spring as would a normal plant. Then it dies as would a normal plant.

In order to get a spring and fall crop, treat your patch like a normal patch above. The second-year canes will give you a summer harvest while the new canes will give you a fall harvest.

To only get a fall crop, mow everything to the ground in the early spring and only allow the new growth to produce a fruit set.


Sudden Wilting of ends of canes.  This is the raspberry borer and if you look down the cane just a few inches from the top, you'll see two parallel lines around the cane space about a half-inch apart.  There is a borer inside this area.

Cut the tip of the cane off and discard into the garbage (or burn it)  Cut several inches below the bottom ring to ensure you catch the borer.

If unchecked this raspberry borer will tunnel down to the root to kill off the plant.

Sour Berries

Any fruit is going to taste better when it is grown stress-free. So get the compost onto them, mulch for weed control and never, ever let them get water-stressed. Remember - berries are 95% water so stressing them is going to make those berries "harder" or less flavorful.

Crumbling Berries

Berry crumbing is usually genetics. Some varieties crumble more than others. So your fall bloomers crumble in the spring crop and you get to lick your fingers a lot. :-)

Small Berries

This is usually a stress-related issue. Mostly water stress - not enough of it. Remember that berries are 90%+ water and any reduction during the time they are setting fruit and growing is going to reduce both berry size and amount of crop.


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Different raspberry plant resources - different kinds and suppliers

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