How to Grow Raspberries & Blackberries

              Home Grown Raspberries & Blackberries      

Raspberries and Blackberries are a diverse and delicious berry with a multitude of uses. They are high in fiber antioxidants and vitamin and numerous minerals; the juice contains vitamin C; and the seeds contain vitamin E. Most varieties can not be found in the local grocery as they're not viably marketable due to their  soft texture and short shelf life. Growing your own is the best way to ensure you don't miss out.


Preparation and Site Selection

Preparing transplants or root stock

Raspberry Planting Systems

Plant Supports

Watering Raspberries and Blackberries

Weed Control/ Cultivation

Pruning Brambles

Fertilizing Raspberries and Blackberries

Varieties of Raspberries and Blackberries

Common Pests and Disease

Winter Protection




Home Grown Blueberries

Home Grown Strawberries   

Preparation and Site Selection

Planting Raspberry from seeds is not a good idea. Transplants are recommended. The Transplants should be planted in early spring as soon as the soil can be worked. Keep the plants cool prior to transplanting , if your seedlings can't be planted right away they should be heeled in or stored.

* Don't allow the plants to dry out during planting .The portion of the stem that was below ground is a different color. The hole should be big enough to allow the roots to spread out normally.


  1. Begin by selecting a planting site with full sunlight.
  2. A wide range of soil types is suitable. However The ideal environment, should be a well-drained loam soil, high in organic matter, with a deep and well-drained subsoil.
  3. Good air circulation is important in reducing damage from spring frosts, winter injury, and diseases. Some wind protection is recommended to reduce possible breaks or cane desiccation.

Preparing transplants or root stock

  1. Remove the dormant, bare root raspberry plants from storage when ready to plant. If the roots of the raspberry plants are dry, soak them in water for several hours before planting.
  2. The raspberry plants should be set slightly deeper into the soil than they were in the nursery. Red raspberries are planted 2 inches deeper while black and purple raspberries are set 1 inch deeper than previously grown.
  3. Destroy neighboring wild raspberries or blackberries to prevent disease from spreading to your plants.
  4. Soil tests should be conducted before planting and then the site should be fertilized (See Soil pH & Fertilizing )
  5. The plant spacing depends on which of the planting system is to be used


Planting Systems

  1. Hill system - Plants sown in hills, wide spacing, weed control by cultivation between and within row, recommended for gently sloping areas. Good for black and purple raspberries.
  2. Hedgerow system - Plants are grown in continuous rows about one to two feet wide to form a hedge. Control by cultivation confined to one direction. Space saving, good for varieties that produce a lot of suckers. Good for red and yellow raspberries.
  3. Linear system - A modification of the two above, no suckers are allowed to grow by cultivating the width around the parent plant. Good for black and purple raspberries.

A width of 3 to 4 feet is recommended for most planting systems. Between-row width can be from 7 to 12 feet . However, rows should be spaced as close as possible to ensure highest possible yields .

If you choose to plant directly into bare soil, preparatory plowing and sub soiling should be deep. The land should be left undisturbed to settle for at least several weeks. If nematodes are present in the soil, fumigation will be necessary. Fumigation in the absence of nematodes may also give raspberry plants an extra advantage by killing most weeds and soil pathogens.

Raised beds are recommended if soils are wet or heavy. Raspberries may be short-lived on sites with poor soil drainage. A typical raised bed should be 10 to 12 inches high and 4 to 6 feet wide at the base, though this may be adjusted for your own particular site and soil conditions. Light irrigation of the soil can help keep soil temperature down as temperatures in raised beds may exceed the optimal .

Plant Supports / Trellises

A raspberry plant laden with fruit is top-heavy and needs support to keep it from falling over.


A Trellis is used for training raspberry plants. Trellising affects competition with suckers, plant growth , harvesting methods, fruit quantity and quality,  and pest management.


Assorted Plant Supports 

Ladder Trellises

Other Trellises


For an Excellent Article on building your own "Bramble Trellis" see


Dave's Garden: Bramble Trellis


Also See 

Penn State :Fruit Production Trellis Systems






Raspberries use a lot of water, especially when bearing. About 1 1/2 inch of water per week and more during hot weather. A lack of water is a serious problem during the time from just before fruiting through the fruiting period. Watering is most critical from the time the fruit begin to show color until picking has been completed. Inexpensive Water timer systems are available.



Weed Control/ Cultivation

Cultivation should not be deeper than 3 to 4 inches to avoid injuring raspberry roots which are shallow. Begin cultivation soon after planting and then as often as needed to give good weed control.  Properly installed and maintained Bramble Trellises are vital to controlling weeds in Raspberries & Blackberries.




Raspberries are pruned when dormant and after canes have fruited. The canes are biennial so a cane emerges and grows during one year then bears a crop of berries and dies the following year. An exception would be everbearers. Proper pruning at the correct time of the year will result in better production of raspberries and vine berries the next year.

Remove canes that have fruited right after harvest. The early removal of these canes may help control pest problems and maximize the water and nutrients available to new canes. Cut the tops back to about 6 inches. Cutting back may be done before or after planting.

Some types of red raspberries need a dormant pruning to remove weak or damaged canes. In the linear or hill systems thin the canes to 6 to 8 per hill. In the hedgerow the canes should be spaced 8 inches apart. In the hill and linear systems shorten the canes to about 5 1/2 feet. In the hedgerow system shorten the canes to 4 feet. If the canes are shorter than these heights, take off only the portion that has been winter injured.

Some season weather conditions promote new growth will flower toward the tip of the canes and produce fruit which turns red in Late October to early November. This late crop of raspberries generally never ripens properly and very often becomes covered with a grayish mold which, if not controlled, will often carry over to the next season's fruit crop. I suggest that this late fruit crop be removed as it develops, by simply picking or pruning the fruits or flowers as they show up.




Raspberries thrive best in an acidic soil, a pH range of  5.6 to 6.2 is recommended  [*See Also Soil pH]

Fertilize 10 to 14 days after planting with 2 ounces of 12-12-12 or a similar fertilizer. Keep the fertilizer 3 to 4 inches from the shoots and canes.

The second year fertilization can be increased to 4 to 5 pounds per 1000 square feet of bed area. From the 3rd year on the planting should be given 8 to 9 pounds per 1000 square feet.

Raspberry Food is a 20-21-20 water soluble formula which guarantees fruit set and strengthens roots of black and red raspberries.

Recommended Varieties for Home Growers

  Berry type Color Ripening Season Fruit size Firmness
Summer Bearing Allen Black Early/mid Large -
Black Hawk Black Late Medium Very Good
Boyne Dark Red Mid Medium Fair
Haut Black Early Medium -
Bristol Black Early Large Very Good
Liberty Red Mid Medium Poor
Latham Red Mid Small Fair
Newburgh Red Mid Medium Good
Reville Red Early Med./Large Fair
Sentry Bright Red Mid Med Excellent
Brandy Wine Purple Late Large  
Royalty Purple Late Large Fair
Ever Bearing Heritage Red Late Med  
Redwing Red Mid Large  
  Fall Gold Yellow Early Med  



Seed & Nursery Catalogs





Raspberries are very soft and quickly perishable, that is a primary reason they won't generally be seen  often in your local supermarket. they are not ideal for commercial operations.

Raspberries do not increase in sweetness or flavor after picking. Handle the fruit gently, and pick fruit daily during hot or dry weather.




Common Pests



Japanese Beetle

Raspberry Fruit worm

Raspberry & Redneck borers


Spider mites

Tarnished Plant bug


Squash Bugs

Vinegar Flies


See Pest Control for more extensive Data


Winter Protection    

Raspberries grown in exposed , and the more tender varieties should be given some winter protection.

This can be done successfully several ways

  1. by bending the canes over and throwing a shovel of soil on the cane to hold it down on the ground. The bent over canes should then trap snow, which gives good protection.  This usually results in less winter killing and better fruiting the following summer.
  2. In late November, cover plants with straw or leaves to a depth of 6 inches. In spring and summer, maintain a 4 inch mulch layer to reduce soil moisture loss and aid in controlling weeds. Mulching  reduces the need for cultivation and will also help increase yields
  3. A dormant and growing season spray, Horticultural Spray Oil kills over wintering insects. Excellent for controlling scales, mites, eggs, and more on fruit trees, shade trees, evergreens, and ornamentals.




University of Maine Cooperative Extension

Montana State University [PDF File]

Plant Talk - Raspberries




 Contact Information



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