How to Grow Raspberry Canes

Grow Guide #2657
Family: Rosaceae
Binomial name: Rubus idaeus
Life Cycle: Perennial

This 'How to Grow' guide details everything a home gardener needs to know to plant, grow and care for Raspberry (Rubus idaeus).

When to Plant Raspberry Canes

Raspberry is a perennial plant that grows year round. Plants need a cool winter to produce fruit. Use the table below to identify the best time of year to plant raspberry canes in your climate.

  JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Cool
Temperate
Sub-Tropical
Tropical
Arid

Preparation

Raspberry plants are perennial, meaning they live for several years. Choose a permanent position where plants can grow undisturbed by regular digging.

Raspberry plants are best grown in full sun or part shade. Choose a location that will receive at least 3 hours of full sun each day.

Raspberry plants need a well drained soil enriched with plenty of organic matter. Prepare soil by weeding it thoroughly, digging it over to loosen it and adding aged animal manure or compost. Keep the area free of weeds until planting. Learn more about preparing soil for planting here.

How to Plant Raspberry Canes

Plant raspberry canes soon after delivery. Do not allow roots to dry out.

  1. Remove canes from bag and shake off coir. Soak the roots in a bucket of water for 1-2 hours prior to planting. Do not leave roots soaking for longer than 2 hours or they may rot. Optional: Seaweed solution can be added to the soaking water at the recommended rate if desired.
  2. Space canes 40cm apart.
  3. Dig a 30cm deep hole and make a mound in the centre.
  4. Place the roots of one cane on the mound and spread them out evenly.
  5. Cover with soil, making sure the bottom of the stem is level with the surface of the soil.
  6. Water in well after planting.

Optional: Prune canes to about 20cm from the ground after planting. This will encourage root development and new growth.

How to Grow Raspberry Canes

Raspberry plants require a trellis or other strong support to grow on. Tie plants gently to the support using twine or plant ties. Make sure you have the support in place when you plant canes to avoid disturbing the plant’s roots later. Tying the canes to the trellis in bundles can make them easier to manage.

Raspberry plants may need watering during the growing season. Water when the soil is dry about 5cm below the surface (test this by scratching away a little soil with your finger). Water deeply in the early morning or late afternoon. Avoid watering the leaves of plants to avoid fungal diseases. Learn more about watering here.

If soil was well prepared no extra fertiliser should be necessary. In poor soil or to give your plants an extra boost, application of a balanced fertiliser or one formulated for fruit and vegetables can be beneficial:

  • Apply slow release fertiliser at the recommended rate when transplanting or when seedlings are 5-10cm tall.
  • Apply liquid fertiliser at the recommended rate and frequency while plants are fruiting or flowering.

How to Prune Raspberry Canes

Some raspberry canes will fruit in their first year after planting while other varieties will fruit in their second year. The variety of raspberry determines how the canes should be pruned:

  • Primocane varieties produce fruit on new growth, usually in autumn. Pruning primocane varieties is easy; simply prune all canes to the ground in winter. These varieties are sometimes called 'autumn bearing'.
  • Floricane varieties produce fruit on two-year-old canes, usually in summer. To make pruning easier, mark the canes that produce fruit with a soft tie such as a length of wool while they are fruiting. This will help you remember which canes have fruited. Prune the canes that have fruited to the ground in winter, leaving the new canes that did not fruit unpruned - these new canes will produce fruit next year. These varieties are sometimes called 'summer bearing', though some floricane varieties will have a second flush of fruit in late autumn. 

Plants can be pruned during the season to remove any weak, diseased or damaged canes and to improve air flow around canes.

Some raspberry varieties produce suckers (new shoots that emerge some distance from the parent plant); these can be dug up and used to propagate new plants or cut off below soil level to contain the spread of the plant.

How to Harvest Raspberry

When canes will bear fruit depends on the type of raspberry. Fruit of primocane varieties will be ready to harvest the first autumn after they are planted. Floricane varieties will produce fruit in the second summer after they are planted.

Raspberries are ready to harvest when they are firm and fully coloured. Harvest fruit by pulling them gently off the plant. Raspberries are best eaten soon after harvest. They can be stored short term in a container in the fridge. For longer term storage, raspberries can be frozen, canned or made into jam or sauce.

Common Problems when Growing Raspberry

Like all plants, raspberry is susceptible to some pests, diseases and other problems. Below is a list of the most common problems gardeners encounter when growing raspberry plants:

  • strawberry with botrytis
    Grey mould (Botrytis sp.) is a fungal disease that causes flowers to become mouldy and fruit to rot. Spores are transported by wind and can survive in soil or on green waste. The fungus spreads most in cool, damp weather. Prune off affected flowers and fruit, water plants at soil level (not on leaves) and if necessary spray with an appropriate fungicide or homemade spray.
  • Queensland Fruit fly
    Queensland Fruit Fly (Bactrocera tryoni) that lays its eggs in fruit, causing it to rot from the inside. Fruit will fall prematurely and larvae can be seen if affected fruit is cut open. Practice good garden hygiene by disposing of fallen fruit, protect fruit with insect exclusion netting and install traps to monitor fruit fly populations. Read more about Queensland fruit fly here.
  • Animal eating fruit
    Possums, birds and other animals can ruin a large percentage of your harvest overnight. Physically exclude pests by using netting or cages, or try spraying plants with a pungent homemade spray made from garlic, fish oil or mustard.
  • Wilt
    Fusarium wilt and verticillium wilt are diseases caused by soil-borne fungi. The fungi enter a plants’ roots and prevent water and nutrients from moving through plants. Leaves and branches will wilt, dry off and die and leaves may yellow. There is no cure for wilt but choosing resistant varieties, disposing of affected plants and soil, practicing good garden hygiene and crop rotation will all help to prevent it spreading.
  • thrip on a flower
    Thrips are black, beige or white flying insects (<1.5mm) with larvae that suck tissue from leaves and petals, leaving behind very small white or transparent markings. While not usually causing serious damage, the marks affect the look of flowers and foliage and thrips can also transfer pathogens from one plant to another. Wash thrips from affected plants using a garden hose, encourage predatory mites and lacewings with companion planting, or spray with soap, eco-oil or neem oil.
  • Spider mites
    Spider mites (Tetranychus urticae), also known as two spotted mites, are sap-sucking arachnids that cause dry, wilted or discoloured leaves. The undersides of leaves may feel dry and a little like fine sandpaper. Prune plants to allow good air flow or spray with eco-oil or wettable sulphur. Learn more about managing spider mites here.

 

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