Growing Raspberries: A Complete Guide on How to Plant, Grow, Harvest Raspberries

Growing Raspberries: A Complete Guide on How to Plant, Grow, & Harvest Raspberries


Ame lives off-the-grid on her beautiful farm in Falmouth, Kentucky. She has been gardening organically for over 30 years and has grown vegetables, fruits, herbs, flowers, and ornamentals. She also participates in Farmers Markets, CSA, and mentors young farmers. Ame is the founder and director of Fox Run Environmental Education Center where she teaches environmental education programs in self-sufficiency, herbal medicine, green building, and wildlife conservation.

What better shout out to summer than biting down on a fresh, sweet raspberry? The only problem is: they’re expensive, and the best tasting ones are often hard to find in grocery stores.

Beyond their unbeatable flavor, raspberries are nice to have around because they’re so undemanding. While your veggie garden might constantly be needing care, your raspberry bushes are off in the corner doing their thing. Come late summer they start offering up bushels of fruit that you can eat fresh, in desserts, at breakfast, or even turned into a sauce for your steak dinner.

That’s why growing raspberries at home is such a brilliant idea. Here’s how to get started.

Raspberry Varieties

Raspberries belong to the genus Rubus and are rhizomes, which means they grow by producing canes that spring up from their roots.

There are two types of raspberries, which is determined by when they fruit. Summer-bearing raspberries have one fruiting, typically in June or July. They’re self-fertile, so you only need one variety. They usually start bearing fruit after the first year.

Everbearing raspberries produce in summer and then a light crop later in the fall. Regardless of the type you prefer, there are numerous raspberry varieties to choose from.

Common Varieties

  • Boyne – Boyne is a summer red variety that’s popular with growers. It’s a hardy variety that thrives in zones 3-7. Boynes is ideal for making jam and freezing.
  • Killarney – Killarney is another red summer bearer. It is a bit larger and sweeter than Boyne. This berry is the perfect choice for fresh eating, or if you want to sell your fruit at a farmer’s market.
  • Heritage – Heritage is popular in the Ohio Valley region and is one of my favorites. It’s an everbearing variety that has a deep, dark red color and tastes incredibly sweet. It produces two crops, the first on floricane that ripens in July. Later in September, the primocane berries ripen. Upright canes are 4 feet tall and self-supporting.
  • Anne – Anne is a yellow fall bearing variety that does best in zones 4-7. I love the taste of Anne’s, but they can be a bit temperamental to grow. The yellow berries have a mouth-watering flavor which makes the trouble worthwhile. Finding yellow raspberries in a store can be difficult, so if you have extra, you can sell them. They look beautiful in a salad and are delicious fresh or in preserves.
  • Jewel – Jewel is my all time favorite. It’s a black raspberry and is hardy and prolific. I can’t tell you how many times my goats or fawns have munched away on the canes and they come back bigger than ever. Jewel is a summer bearing variety and does well in the heat of zones 5-8. The plants are large – 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide – so give them plenty of room to grow. The berries are large as well and have a delicious sweet flavor that is ideal for eating fresh or making jam. Try them with pancakes on Sunday morning.

Planting Raspberries

Purchase raspberry plants online or at a local nursery. You can buy them bare root or in pots.

The Right Area

Raspberries can be picky about where they grow, and I think the yellow ones are the pickiest. I planted yellow Annes three times before I found a spot where they flourished. It was worth the perseverance – YUM!

Keep in mind that raspberries don’t like wind, so pick a location that doesn’t get gusty or put them near a windbreak. You also want to keep plants away from wild berries.

Bees and other insect pollinators can benefit raspberries and visa versa. If you’re a beekeeper, you might consider putting your raspberries near your hives.

You want a spot that has full sun but is protected from the harshest afternoon light if you live in a hot region.

Soil Requirements

Raspberries don’t like wet feet so pick a location that drains well. Your spoil pH should be between 5.5-6.5. Slightly acid soil helps prevent iron and manganese deficiencies.

Test your soil and add amendments if necessary. If your soil is heavy add some sand and peat to help with drainage.

As with most perennials, it is a good idea to prepare the soil before planting. Work in compost or aged manure to the top few inches of your earth and till to get rid of weeds. Have your holes ready before your plants arrive so you can plant them as soon as possible.

Sun Requirements

Raspberries need full sun, at least 6-8 hours a day.


Some gardeners soak the roots before planting raspberries. I don’t do this since I plan to water the hole after planting to help the roots get good contact with the soil. Before putting the plant in the ground, examine the roots and trim any dead or twisted ones.

The plant’s crown should be 1-2 inches above the soil line. The crown is the part of the plant where the stem joins the roots. This is an important point of energy transfer in the plant.

After planting, prune your raspberries to 4 inches above the soil. This will help the roots get established, which will ensure healthier plants down the road.


Plant black raspberries 4 feet apart. Yellow and reds can be a little closer at 2-3 feet apart. Leave 6 feet between rows.

Trellis or Support

Some varieties of raspberries get tall and need to have their canes supported. You can do this by building a trellis or by using a fence for support. I plant mine on exterior garden fencerows.

Caring For Raspberries


Raspberries are heavy feeders. At the time of planting, mix one-half cup of all-purpose organic fertilizer into the soil. Annual applications of two inches of compost in the spring and some fish emulsion when flowers appear will do wonders. Apply a second round of fertilizer later in the year.

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Start a regular fertilizing schedule the second year of growth.


You’ll need prune growing raspberries annually. I know that pruning can be intimidating, but don’t worry, raspberries are uncomplicated.

While the raspberry plant will live for many years, each cane only lives for a few years. It’s important to remove those dead canes and encourage new growth.

Pruning Summer Bearing Raspberries

In the first year of growth, the raspberry develops a primocane. This green colored cane grows the leaves that provide the plant with food. The primocane does not produce any berries.

In its second year, the primocane becomes darker in color and becomes what is called a floricane . The floricane produces fruit and then dies. Spent floricanes are what you will prune away.

Pruning Red Raspberries

The best time to prune reds is in fall after they are done producing. Cut out the dead canes. Cut the primocanes down to 12 inches.

Pruning Black and Purple Raspberries

In fall cut back all canes that have fruited.

Pruning Everbearing Raspberries

Cut down all the canes after harvest. Many people use a lawn mower at a three-inch setting and mow the plants.


Raspberries benefit from having a thick layer of mulch. Straw and wood chips both work well to help keep in water and stop weed growth.


Berries take lots of water to become sweet and juicy. Your plants need one inch of water per week during the growing season.

Companions for Growing Raspberries

These are the best companions for raspberries.

The following plants are the worst companions for rasberries:

Problems and Solutions for Growing Raspberries

Some fruits take a lot of work, but raspberries are hardy and get few diseases.


  • Yellow leaves: Raspberries can suffer from iron deficiency, especially if your soil pH is too high. Test your soil and make sure your pH is between 5.5-6.5. Add iron sulfate to the earth to remedy.
  • Vanishing canes and leaves: My biggest problem growing raspberries is with my goats and fawns. They think raspberries are a delectable treat. Raspberry canes and leaves are nutritious, but I want all the goodies for me! During the fruiting season, I drape netting over my plants. This helps to protect them from my four legged buddies as well as birds.
  • Rabbits: Bunnies also like to nibble on raspberries. Especially in winter when there is less fresh food. There are lots of ways to deter rabbits.
  • Light spots: If your raspberries get full afternoon sun and they start to develop light spots, it’s probably sunscalding. Shade your plants in the afternoon or buy resistant varieties.
  • Stunted plants: If your plants don’t get enough water they may suffer from water stress. This will cause reduced yields and smaller fruits. Be sure to give growing raspberries plenty of water.

Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew is sometimes a problem for raspberries. Make sure your plants have plenty of air circulation around them. If you do have powdery mildew on your plants dispose of the canes when you prune.

Cane Blight

Cane blight can cause wilt and plant death. You’ll notice cankers on first-year canes that gradually expand and will begin to ooze. Cane blight can be prevented by giving plants plenty of space and watering at the base of plants. Don’t over-feed with nitrogen. Remove and destroy any infected canes.

Raspberry Leaf Spot

Raspberry leaf spot is caused by a fungus. It causes small dark spots that eventually develop into yellow spots on raspberry leaves. It can weaken plants and reduce your harvest. Make sure plants have plenty of air circulation by keeping plants pruned. You can also use a fungicide to control it.

Yellow Rust

Yellow rust is a fungus common on red raspberries. In the early spring, you’ll see yellow spots on upper plant leaves. As the summer progresses, the spots move down the plant. Fruit may die on the cane and plants may lose their leaves. Make sure plants have lots of air circulation to prevent it. Remove and burn infected leaves and canes. You can also plant resistant varieties.

Fire Blight

Red raspberries are particularly susceptible to fire blight. It causes tips of canes to turn black and curl down. Eventually, leaves may wither and die, and fruit may turn brown and dry up. Remove and destroy infected canes and keep pests like aphids away using neem oil, because they can spread disease.

Cane Borer

Cane borer is a beetle that attacks raspberries. You’ll first know you have it if the shoot tips of your plants start turning black in the early summer. If you see two rings below the dead tip, it’s a surefire sign that you have cane borer. To control it, cut the shoot at the bottom ring and destroy the pruned cane.

Raspberry Mosaic

Raspberry mosaic is a group of different pathogens that attack plants. Because it can be caused by numerous viruses, the symptoms can vary. It can look like weak or slow-growing plants, loss of fruit or low fruit quality, or yellow spots on leaves. Aphids are the major culprit for spreading this disease, so do your best to keep them at bay. Look for resistant varieties if you struggle with raspberry mosaic.

Raspberry Beetle

Also known as a raspberry fruitworm, this small white and brown beetle feeds on fruit buds and new leaves. They overwinter in the soil and emerge in April or May to start snacking. Use an organic pesticide to control.

Harvesting and Storing Raspberries

Raspberries fruit over a two week period in either summer or fall, beginning in the second year after they are planted. Fruits are ripe when they reach the desired color, and they pull away from the plant without a fight. A ripe berry is easy to pick and will fall off in your hand. If you have to tug then the berry is not ready yet. They need to be picked frequently during this time – at least every two days.

Raspberries don’t have a long shelf life. That’s one of the reasons that they’re so expensive in stores. Store them in the refrigerator for up to five days. Make sure they are dry before you put them in the fridge. Don’t wash them until right before you are ready to eat them.

You can freeze raspberries by laying them out on a cookie sheet with a little space between them. Stick them in the freezer. After they’re frozen put them in freezer containers and place back into the freezer.

Now for the best part: eating them. Tell us how you like to snack on raspberries.

Prevent Japanese Beetle Damage With These Organic Pest Control Tips

This article is part of our Organic Pest Control Series, which includes articles on attracting beneficial insects, controlling specific garden pests, and using organic pesticides.

Japanese Beetles (Popillia japonica)

Since first being found in New Jersey in 1916, Japanese beetles have become major garden pests in eastern North America. Appearing in early summer, the coppery beetles feed on leaves of roses, grapes, beans, hops, and more than 300 other plants, including lindens and several other landscape trees. Larvae feed in lawns and weaken the grass by destroying roots.

Organic Japanese beetle controls include repeated handpicking, poultry predation, row cover barriers, and beneficial nematodes or diatomaceous earth applied to lawn areas. Japanese beetle traps require special handling, because they can attract more beetles than would otherwise be present.

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What Are Japanese Beetles?

This summer pest feeds for only about six weeks, but its voracious appetite, copper coloring and sexual behavior immediately get gardeners’ attention. Half-inch long beetles with copper backs, green heads, and white dots along their rears are Japanese beetles. They are often first seen on roses, but also love raspberries, grapes, beans, hollyhocks, and a long list of other popular garden plants. In bad years Japanese beetles appear in swarms, typically during the second half of June and especially in areas where they are a recently established pest.

What Japanese Beetle Damage Looks Like

Japanese beetles emerge in early summer and begin feeding on plants they prefer. They rasp away tissues on the top sides of leaves, which often leads to jagged holes. Japanese beetle larvae, or grubs, cause lawns to feel spongy underfoot. Lawns that are badly infested with Japanese beetles show thin growth and dry out quickly. In trees, Japanese beetles often start at the top and work their way down, causing the crown of infested trees to look mottled tan.

Japanese Beetle Life Cycle

Japanese beetles overwinter as almost-mature larvae deep in the soil, often more than 10 inches deep. As the soil warms, the larvae move upward and pupate, and emerge as hungry beetles. They feed constantly for about six weeks. Each afternoon, females visit grassy areas to lay eggs. These eggs hatch into small white grubs that feed on grass roots. When soil temperatures cool in the fall, the larvae tunnel downward 4 to 10 inches to escape exposure to winter cold. When the soil warms in spring, the cycle begins again.

Japanese Beetle Predators

Wild and domestic birds are top natural predators during late spring and early fall, the two times of the year when larvae are feeding close to the surface. Otherwise Japanese beetles enjoy rather carefree lives. In areas where tulip poplars and other host plants are present, beneficial Tiphia wasps often suppress populations. Japanese beetles naturally prosper in landscapes planted with spacious lawns and roses.

Organic Japanese Beetle Control

Handpicking is essential to limiting Japanese beetle damage. Early season control is particularly helpful because Japanese beetles give off chemical signals when they find good host plants, attracting more beetles. For handpicking, a couple of inches of soapy water in a pail, bowl or jug works well (use plain water if you plan to feed the collected beetles to poultry or pond fish). If you cringe at the thought of touching the beetles, tape a large funnel to the top of a milk jug or other plastic container to use as your collection device. First thing in the morning, hold your chosen container under the leaf or bough where the beetles are feeding, and brush them down into it with your hand. The beetles won’t bite you, and as long as temperatures are cool they will fall into the water rather than flying away. Within an hour, they will drown.

Many MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers report that chickens and guinea fowl have ended their problems with Japanese beetles, mostly by gathering grubs.

Provide nesting sites for robins, bluebirds and other insect-eating birds. They will seldom nab an adult beetle but will gather a lot of grubs.

Some gardeners grow trap crops of raspberries or grapes to keep Japanese beetles away from other plants. Using a trap crop with leaves at eye level makes the beetles easier to handpick.

More Advice on Organic Japanese Beetle Control

  • Sprinkle diatomaceous earth (DE) in lawn areas near roses and other highly attractive plants.
  • Do not use Japanese beetle traps within 500 yards of susceptible plants, because they will attract excessive numbers of beetles. However, in areas where Japanese beetles are newly established, intensive neighborhood-wide trapping may reduce problems the following year. The beetles collected in traps can be frozen and fed to chickens or pond fish.
  • Respect plant quarantines. Many plant quarantine laws are intended to prevent the spread of Japanese beetles to western states.
  • Grow tulip poplars, which host a beneficial Tiphia wasp that parasitizes Japanese beetle grubs.

More information about Japanese beetles is available from the University of Kentucky, Ohio State University and the University of Tennessee.

New ways to fight Japanese beetles- ginger, wintergreen and geraniums

If you are a gardener in Michigan you have probably seen the Japanese beetle. You may have dismayed that you couldn’t stop the serious damage these beetle do without resorting to dangerous pesticides that indiscriminately kill all insects or spending hours picking them off plants by hand. New research indicates that several botanical products may soon provide a safe alternative to toxic pesticides.

Research published in the Journal of Economic Entomology, 04/08/2009, found that a mixture of two essential oils, wintergreen and ginger oil, was quite effective at repelling Japanese beetles. Peppermint oil was also a strong repellant. (Coffee and citronella oils actually seemed to attract Japanese beetles). More research is being conducted to find the best way to use these oils as beetle repellants on crops. These oils could be applied to food crops safely and would be relatively benign to the environment.

Other research conducted at the USDA Application Technology Research Unit in Wooster, Ohio found that geraniums could be part of the war against Japanese beetles. Entomologist Chris Ranger found that Japanese beetles that ate geranium leaves were paralyzed within 30 minutes and stayed immobile for up to 24 hours. While immobilized they are easy prey for birds and other predators or could be swept or vacuumed up.

Interestingly enough the paralytic effect of geranium leaves on Japanese beetles has been known since the 1920’s, about the time the pest arrived in the United States. Ranger and a colleague have just begun to develop a natural pesticide using geraniums and have applied for a patent.

Other natural controls

Japanese beetle traps that attract the beetles and then drown them have been around for years, but in small yards the placement of traps can be a problem. The traps attract more beetles than might normally be in the area and need to be placed a good ways away from plants you want to protect.

A few years ago milky spore disease was introduced into areas where Japanese beetles are found. This fungal disease attacks the Japanese beetle’s immature stage- the grub that resides in your lawn destroying grass roots. Milky spore disease is now found in stores and garden supply catalogs for you to sprinkle over affected areas.

A new protozoan disease that also kills Japanese beetle is being released throughout Michigan. See the related story about this here. These natural controls are safe for the environment and kill only Japanese beetles.

Both the milky spore disease and protozoan controls take many years to begin to be effective in an area. But combining those controls with faster acting repellents made from essential oils or a geranium knock out spray could be the environmentally friendly solution homeowners have been waiting for.

How to Stop the Japanese Beetle by Using Homemade Repellents

Things You’ll Need

Liquid dish soap

Red or cayenne pepper


Wear gloves when removing the Japanese beetles to protect your hands.

Japanese beetles are easy to spot in a garden. They are metallic-green with copper-colored wings and are about 1/2-inch long. Japanese beetles can cause extensive damage to plants, chewing on leaves and blossoms.The beetles emerge from the ground during early June and are active up to August. They need to be controlled to protect your garden.

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Step 1

Grow repellent plants in your garden near the infestation site. Plants such as catnip, chives, garlic, tansy and rue are said to be repellents for Japanese beetles. Larkspur and four-o’-clocks will attract the beetles and poison them when the beetles attempt to feed.

Step 2

Spray the plants with soap. Combine two tbsp. of liquid dish soap with one quart of water into a bucket. Pour the solution into a spray bottle and spray the leaves of the plants to make them unattractive to the beetles.

Step 3

Remove any beetles from the plants by picking them off and dropping them into a bucket of soapy water. Japanese beetles are attracted to areas where other beetles are located.

Step 4

Remove damaged leaves and foliage from the plants. Beetles are attracted to the damaged foliage.

Step 5

Sprinkle dried and crushed red pepper or cayenne pepper onto slightly damp leaves of the plants and onto the soil around them as well. The capsaicin in the pepper can help repel the beetles.

The Story of Japanese Beetles (And How to Fight Them)

The Japanese beetle is a major plant pest in North America, eager to chomp through the leaves of hundreds of ornamental plants, fruit trees and vegetables. These imports from Asia have been in the U.S. for more than a century and are a real bane for many gardeners.

Eradicating them has proven difficult since they live underground as grubs and are only active a short time in the summer.

Is it Really a Japanese Beetle?

Regardless of how much damage they cause, it’s hard not to admire the appearance of Japanese beetles. Their head and thorax are covered in a metallic green shell and their wing coverings – technically called elytra – are a shimmering copper color. Taken together, it’s a striking design courtesy of Mother Nature.

Like all beetles, Japanese beetles have six legs, two antennae and wings. They’re clumsy flyers, often bonking into objects as they travel. Toward their back-end, Japanese beetles sport six tufts of white hair on each side of their body. These tufts are often key to identifying them when comparing them to beetles of similar coloration.

From Japan to the U.S. and Beyond

It shouldn’t surprise you that Japanese beetles are originally from Japan. In their home range, these beetles are minor pests because they have a number of natural predators. Also, the Japanese climate helps to keep them in check.

The insects seem to have entered the U.S. in 1916, where they were stowaways aboard a shipment of irises. From that landing point on the Eastern Seaboard, they began to spread west and north – they are now found in Canada and through much of the U.S. east of the Rockies.

At the same time, these beetles also moved into several other countries, and have strong populations established in Portugal and western Russia. They are also believed to have spread into India and Korea and were recently found in Italy as well.

Scientists believe that their expansion is being facilitated by humans and their love for lush, green lawns that are frequently watered — perfect conditions for Japanese beetle larvae to thrive.

Damage from Adult Japanese Beetles

Japanese beetles are notorious for damaging a wide variety of plants in North America, including roses, vegetable crops, flowering plants and shrubs. They eat the foliage of these plants, always focusing on the tender plant material between the veins of the leaf. This feeding process, called skeletonization, leaves the plants decimated.

At last count, Japanese beetles were known to prey on more than 200 plants in North America. Here are just a few of the well-known plants that are susceptible to Japanese beetles:

  • American mountain ash
  • Birch
  • Common Mallow
  • Crape myrtle
  • Flowers (Althaea, cardinal flower, clematis, evening primrose, dahlia, gladiolus, hibiscus, hollyhock, morning glory, peony, rose, zinnia)
  • Fruit and Berries (Apple, apricot, cherry, crabapple, grape, hawthorn, peach, plum, red raspberry)
  • Horse chestnut
  • Linden (American, European)
  • Maple (Japanese, Norway)
  • Pin Oak
  • Summer Sweet
  • Vegetable (Asparagus, rhubarb, soybean, sunflower, sweet corn
  • Virginia Creeper
  • Walnut (Black)
  • Willow

Damage from Japanese Beetle Grubs

Unfortunately, the damage wrought by Japanese beetles isn’t limited to their adult form. As grubs, these insects bury themselves under your lawn where they do their best to ruin your grass.

After hatching in late summer, the grubs dig into the soil – often up to a foot deep. At this point, they are relatively dormant and stay inactive until the spring. As temperatures warm, the grubs work their way toward the surface again where they feed on the tender roots of turf grasses. As a result of this extensive feeding, these underground feeding machines leave patches of dead grass. Their dining habits destroy roots and reduce the grass’s ability to take up water. This damage causes the grass to die off during hot and dry weather.

You can check to see if Japanese beetle grubs are the culprit to your lawn problems by digging up a damaged section of turf and looking for the curled, c-shaped grubs, which are about 1 inch long. If you find more than 10 per square foot, expect significant damage from these grubs.

Japanese Beetle Control Methods

There are two primary ways to control adult Japanese beetle populations. The first

, which is probably the easiest and least expensive, is to set up a non-toxic Japanese Beetle Trap near the afflicted foliage. These traps use a pheromone lure to attract male beetles, which interrupts the breeding cycle.

The second option is to use an insect-killing spray that attacks the insects without affecting the plant. Safer® Brand has two sprays available to control these pests. First is Safer® Brand End ALL® Insect Killer, an OMRI Listed® treatment that’s compliant for use in organic gardening. It allows you to use it up to the day of harvest. Also available is Safer® Brand BioNEEM® Insecticide and Repellent, an OMRI Listed® contact killer that doesn’t persist in the environment.

Other methods are also available, but they may require quite a bit more of a hands-on effort.

  • Hand-Picking: For one thing, you can try hand-picking the beetles off your plants. This method is effective, but it assumes you have lots of time.
  • Domestic Animals: Certain domestic animals are also known to be voracious beetle eaters, including chickens, ducks and guinea hens. Bringing those birds onto your property presents its own challenges though!
  • Wild Animals: Many species of wild animals also will eat Japanese beetles. Wild birds known to eat these beetles include robins, cat birds and cardinals. Mammals – namely opossums, raccoons, skunks, moles and shrews — will eat beetle grubs, but you can also expect them to dig up your lawn in the process.
  • Parasites: Other options include introducing parasitic organisms to attack the beetles, including nematodes, the milky spore bacterium, certain tachinid flies and tiphia wasps. Though these are natural solutions, they can be purchased at local plant nurseries and released in your yard and garden. Be warned, they may take a while before results are evident.

The Gardener’s Bane: Japanese Beetles

Are you in a battle with Japanese beetles in your lawn or garden? Let us know if you have any questions by reaching out to us when you visit Safer® Brand on Facebook. You’ll be joining a community dedicated to organic gardening!

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