Raspberries are easy and cheap to grow, providing you with sweet and delicious fruit that tastes so much better when picked fresh on a warm summer’s day. Raspberries are categorised into ‘summer-fruiting’ and ‘autumn-fruiting’ types. Summer-fruiting raspberries fruit on the previous year’s growth and are typically tall plants that require staking. Autumn-fruiting raspberries are shorter and usually less vigorous, and fruit on the current season’s growth. Growing a variety of the two types means you could be successionally harvesting your own delicious raspberries from late June through to October.
Grown on ‘canes’ (upright woody stems), raspberries are a great investment, often fruiting for 10 years or more. They do require annual pruning and taller, summer-fruiting varieties need staking, so they are not as low-maintenance as some other soft fruit. However, they are usually considered worth the effort, and will taste even sweeter when you think about how much you’d pay for a punnet in the supermarket.
How to grow raspberries
Plant raspberry canes 45cm apart with 1.8m between rows, in moist but well-drained, fertile soil. An open, sunny site is best. Firm in and water well. Tie in summer-fruiting canes to supports as they grow, cutting back weak stems (autumn-fruiting varieties don’t need support). In spring, feed with a general fertiliser and mulch around plants to keep their roots slightly moist and to suppress weeds. Keep the plants well watered during dry spells. Harvest raspberries as and when they ripen. Cut autumn-fruiting canes back to the ground after fruiting, and cut back old canes of summer-fruiting varieties, leaving new canes for next year’s crop.
Where to grow raspberries
Grow raspberries in moist but well-drained, fertile soil in full sun to partial shade. Raspberries are more tolerant of shade than other fruits but their fruit will taste sweeter in a sunny location. Some raspberry varieties, such as the dwarf variety ‘Ruby Beauty’, can be grown in pots but you will get a smaller harvest from this raspberry bush than from those grown in the ground.
How to plant raspberries
Plant in autumn or spring. Before planting raspberries, give the roots a good soak in water. You may also want to add well-rotted manure or home-made compost to the soil to aid fertility. Space canes 45cm apart with 1.8m between rows. Cover the roots with about 5cm of soil and firm around them gently. Canes are usually pre-pruned, ready to plant. If not, cut them down to 15-22cm.
For summer-fruiting raspberries, you will need to add supporting posts or canes, which you can tie the canes to as they grow. Put up strong 2m wooden posts at either end of your row of raspberry canes and run wires between them. Tie the canes to these as they grow. Fix a wooden T-piece to the top of each post to support bird netting over the top.
In this video, Monty demonstrates how to plant bare-root raspberries, with tips on spacing and varieties to grow:
How to care for raspberries
In spring, feed raspberries with an organic, general fertiliser and mulch around the base of plants to keep their roots slightly moist and to suppress weeds. Keep the plants well watered during dry spells.
Watch Monty Don explain how and why you should mulch raspberry canes, and what to mulch them with:
How to prune raspberries
Pruning summer-fruiting raspberries
Summer-fruiting raspberries fruit on one-year-old canes. Tie in new canes to support as they develop, but prune out weak shoots. Aim for a spacing of 15cm between new canes, removing extras to avoid overcrowding. After fruiting, cut all canes that have carried fruit down to soil level, leaving the new canes to develop fruit the following year.
Here, Monty explains how to prune summer raspberry cans after they have fruited:
Pruning autumn-fruiting raspberries
Autumn-fruiting raspberries flower and fruit on the current season’s canes, so you can cut them down at the end of the season. Simply cut them to the ground in winter – you can save the canes and use them pea sticks the following year. New canes will grow in spring, and they will flower and fruit within a few weeks. The shorter nature of these canes means they don’t need support like summer raspberries do.
In this video, Monty explains how to care for autumn raspberries:
Pests and diseases
Birds such as blackbirds may take the fruit. Many gardeners are happy to share their harvest but if you don’t want to you can net the fruit, but check your netting daily, as birds, small mammals and reptiles can become trapped.
In summer, raspberries can suffer from raspberry nutrient deficiency. Feed with a high nitrogen fertiliser and mulch annually with well-rotted manure or compost, to prevent the problem.
You may spot green shield bugs and other shield bugs on your raspberry plants. These are harmless bugs and will not damage your crop.
How to harvest raspberries
Take care when picking raspberries, as the fruits are easily crushed. With the gentlest tug, ripe fruits should just tumble into your hands.
Growing raspberries: preparation and uses
Eat raspberries fresh, frozen or made into purées, jams and smoothies.
Raspberries are best picked and eaten on the same day, although you can store unwashed fruits (moisture encourages grey mould) in a single layer in the fridge for a few days. Most raspberries freeze well – spread them out on a dish to open-freeze, then store in a box or bag for up to two months.
Advice on buying raspberries
- if you have the space, aim for a selection of varieties that gives you a long season of harvest, including summer and autumn-fruiting types
- If buying summer-fruiting rasperries, ensure you have a sturdy support frame in place to tie them to
- Always buy from a reputable supplier and shop around – there are often bargain to be had in autumn
Where to buy raspberries
Raspberry varieties to grow
‘Glen Moy’ – large, firm berries, spine-free stems, good disease resistance
‘Malling Jewel’ – good flavour, reliable and early early cropper on compact plants
‘Glen Ample’ – a heavy cropper with spine-free canes. Disease resistant
‘Glen Rosa’ – for small, aromatic fruits on spine-free stems. Disease resistant
‘Valentina’ – for unusual apricot-pink berries on spine-free stems. Disease resistant
‘Zeva’ – for growing in cooler, more northerly climates. Produces a large crop
‘Glen Magna’ – bears large berries that freeze well and has good disease resistance
‘Tulameen’ – excellent flavour, few spines and can be grown in large pots. Resistant to grey mould
‘All Gold’ – a golden sport of ‘Autumn Bliss’ with delicious yellow fruit
‘Autumn Bliss’ – a reliable cropper producing large, well-flavoured fruits on self-supporting canes
‘Joan J’ – high yields of large, juicy, sweet fruits