NGA Articles: Plant a Home Raspberry Patch

Plant a Home Raspberry Patch

By: Susan Littlefield


Who doesn’t love raspberries? Not only are they delicious, these nutritional super-fruits are also chock-full of healthful antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. But the jewel-like fruits are so perishable that it is almost impossible to get really fresh, ripe berries in the market. Fortunately, they are easy to grow in the home garden. With a little planning and some routine care, you'll be able to stroll out on summer mornings to pick handfuls to top your bowl of cereal or harvest enough to put up jars of homemade jam. How many bushes to plant? Well, you can never have too many raspberries, but you can expect about 35-40 pints of berries from 20 red raspberry plants once they are established.

Primocanes and Floricanes

Step one is choosing the varieties you want to grow. If you look in catalogs or go to a garden center, you'll see two different categories of raspberries for sale- summer-bearing and everbearing (sometimes called fall-bearing). To understand the difference, you need to understand a little berry biology.

The new shoots, or canes, that grow in the spring from the root system are called primocanes. These grow vegetatively the first year, then, in response to the shortening days and cooler temperatures of fall, develop flower buds that will bloom the following year. Next spring these canes, now called floricanes, will flower and then produce fruits. After they finish bearing, these two-year-old canes die. Everbearing (or fall fruiting) raspberries are a little different. Unlike the summer-bearing types, the first-year primocanes flower and set fruits on the top 10 to 12 buds in the fall, then set a smaller crop of berries the following summer on the floricanes, which then die. Some gardeners cut down all the primocanes on these fall-bearers after the fall crop, bypassing the second, smaller summer crop to get a bigger crop each autumn.

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