What’s the number one reason to grow raspberries at home? They’re ridiculously expensive in stores!
Raspberries are a tender fruit, do not stay fresh very long after picking, and do not travel well, so the high prices are understandable. But the taste is also irresistible, which makes them an ideal candidate for growing at home. Leave out the middle person and devour them fresh from the garden.
I recently relocated some raspberry plants from one part of our garden to another. They were not happy in their original location (near a black walnut tree) so I thought I’d give them one more chance to provide me with scrumptious fruit. I’ll walk you through the transplanting steps and what to look out for.
If you’re interested in growing strawberries, see How to Grow Strawberries.
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One of things I miss most about our old garden is the strawberries and raspberries. Both were (surprisingly) incredibly happy in that hard clay soil. June meant mounds and mounds of fresh strawberries, and, just as they were finishing up, the raspberries would start ripening, providing fresh berries right through until August and then again in the fall (they were ‘everbearing’ which means they can fruit twice in the growing season.).
What started as a single cane (year one) gradually morphed into dozens of plants which, by year ten, bordered on invasive status.
On more than one occasion I set out to chop them back and remove some roots, only to find myself sitting on the steps to the deck, rethinking the whole thing as I slowly devoured yet another handful of giant, super sweet berries.
Yes, they can be aggressive growers, but it’s fairly forgivable when it’s a perennial food source that requires very little care.
Need to ID some berries in your garden? This resource may help.
The Mean Old Walnut Tree
When we moved here a couple of years ago, I noticed some scraggly looking raspberry canes at the back of the property. New to the growing conditions, I decided to wait and see how they performed. Now, after 3 summers I can see that they just are not happy in their current location.
While I can’t know for sure, I suspect the nearby black walnut tree is the culprit. Black walnut trees emit a substance called juglone which is toxic for some plants including the nightshade family (tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes). I also noticed a problem when I planted a dwarf apple tree nearby. The tree struggled until I moved it to the other side of the garden.
Related: How to choose the right pruning tool.
The raspberry canes here were originally planted just beyond the walnut tree canopy (the most toxic area) so it’s very possible they were also feeling the effects. With the exception of black raspberries, most berry families (including red and yellow raspberries) will struggle if juglone is present.
If I suspected disease in the plants, I would not transplant them (I’d remove them entirely from the property) but if it is the juglone, they may just spring back to life in a nice, new bed, far from the big, bad tree.
How to Transplant Raspberries
Move the plants in fall (after fruiting) or early spring.
PREPARE THE NEW BED
Raspberries like sun, will tolerate some shade, and prefer well-drained soil. I added some composted manure to their new bed last fall so it’s had lots of time to percolate.
Here’s the BEFORE pic of the canes where they were originally planted. Yes, it’s a mess with invasive ivy from my neighbour’s garden dropping by to say hello.
Dessert Recipe: No-Bake Raspberry Tart in a Jar
PRUNE THE CANES
I cut my raspberry canes down to about 10″ long. Advice varies (6 to 18″) but this has always worked well for me. When I trimmed these ones, I also removed any dead canes.
Because I’ve trimmed them in spring, I do not expect to get any fruit until next year (on this year’s new growth).
DIG UP THE CANES
When digging up any plant for transplant, you want to bring as much of the original soil with it as possible. This prevents any unnecessary disruption to the roots. This was very easy to do in my old garden because the clay was so hard: when I’d finally get the shovel in, the soil would come out in one solid block.
Now that I live in the Land of Sand, it’s really not possible. As soon as I dig up plant roots, all of the soil falls away, exposing the bare roots. This is ok if I’m replanting right away, but, if the plant will be sitting out for any length of time, I place the plant in a bucket, cover the roots with soil from its original home, and keep it moist with warm water.
See the new shoot in this next image?
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EXAMINE THE CANES
It’s early spring as I’m doing this so there’s just a few tiny green shoots and leaf buds, but enough to make me think the plant will survive the move. If there’s signs of new growth (and no disease present), it’s probably worth transplanting.
Here’s a few examples of the ones I opted to keep. This next one has leaf buds:
This one has a shoot forming from the base:
Raspberries do best with good air circulation so you don’t want to crowd the plants. I’m intending to grow mine on supports and prune them regularly so they can be planted just a few feet apart. If you’re leaving them bushy, allow extra space.
DIG HOLES IN NEW BED
When moving the canes, provide a nice wide hole in the ground with plenty of room to spread the roots out. I always fill the hole with water first, let it drain, and then plant (old garden habit that seems to help).
For raspberries, I try and keep the planting the depth the same as it was in the previous bed, letting any buds or sprouts at the base peak up just above the soil.
Give the newly transplanted canes a good soaking. Fill in any air pockets with more soil.
During the growing season, keep the soil most (not dry or soaking wet).
Here’s a newly planted raspberry cane with the straw mulch in place:
My new raspberry bed is in a sunny, hot location and the soil will definitely dry out without a protective layer of mulch over the soil. I used straw. This made the birds incredibly happy since it’s mating season and they now have unlimited supplies for their nest building.
Raspberries are perennial plants and bear fruit on biennial canes (2nd year canes). This means that the any new (green) canes that sprout up this year should produce fruit next year. After that, the canes die off and can be pruned. The crown (root base) lives on indefinitely.
As I mentioned earlier, you can also get new canes from root suckers (shoots that come from the roots, not the crowns), which proved to be somewhat invasive in my old garden, sometimes appearing as far as 15 feet from the mother plant. Depending on how much you want to control them, you may or may not like this source of free plants.
To support or not to support, it’s up to you! Really disciplined growers train the canes that will fruit in the current year on one side of a wire trellis, and next year’s canes on the other. Very organized!
Some plants, like the red and yellow varieties (more on this below), are sturdy enough to grow fine without stakes or trellis. Others sprawl and do better with some support. The goal is to have healthy plants that produce lots of fruit that is easy to pick. How you do it is your business.
No matter what, good air circulation helps reduce the chance of disease.
Raspberries are self-fertile which means you don’t have to worry about getting male and female plants. The insects and wind will take care of business.
First come the flowers, and when those are finished, they transform into berries. Nature puts on the best shows.
There are many varieties of raspberries. It’s best to choose ones known to thrive in your growing area (zones 4-9). A reputable local nursery will have what you need.
WHEN BUYING RASPBERRY PLANTS
If you want to be super smart and careful, don’t accept free plants from friends because once you get a virus in your raspberries, it’s very difficult to get rid of it.
Instead, get certified virus-free plants from a nursery and hang onto to that guarantee.
SINGLE HARVEST and EVERBEARING
Red and yellow raspberries come in single harvest and everbearing varieties.
Single-bearing usually fruit in July (ish).
Everbearing fruit twice: once in early summer and again in fall. If you cut back everbearing raspberries after fall fruiting, you’ll not have a summer crop next year but your fall harvest will be much more abundant.
- SUPER SWEET Yellow raspberries are my favourite. They can be hardy to as low as zone 3 and for some reason the birds aren’t that fond of them. Bonus.
- SWEET Red raspberries are still nice and sweet, just not uber sweet like the yellow ones. Birds like these ones best.
- LEAST SWEET – Black raspberries don’t like anything lower than zone 5. The taste can be slightly tangy which makes these berries are excellent for baking.
Prune after the canes have fruited in fall or early spring before there is new growth.
Add a new layer of compost or manure late fall or early spring each year to replenish the soil.
Is there anything more delicious?
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛
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