If you’re planning a garden, you might wonder how many square-foot gardening raspberries require.
The general answer is two feet per plant. But growing raspberries is more complicated than sticking seedlings in the ground 24 inches apart.
Below, we discuss everything you need to know about incorporating raspberries in your garden.
From space requirements and optimal growing conditions to possible companion plants, we cover it all. So, if you’re considering growing raspberries in your garden, read on.
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All About Raspberries
Raspberries are a wonderful plant for home gardeners. They’re bright, fruit-producing brambles that complement most spaces.
Raspberries come in red, yellow, black, and purple varieties. They can be ever-bearing or summer-bearing.
Ever-bearing cultivars can produce fruit twice per year. Meanwhile, summer-bearing plants only produce fruit one time per year.
All raspberries have perennial roots and crowns but annual canes or branches.
So, though you only need to plant them once, you’ll find that the canes die off each year. Because of this, raspberry plants require annual pruning to remove old cane growth.
You can purchase raspberries as dormant bare-root plants or as potted plants.
When you place them in your garden, you’ll need to use a fence or trellis to provide support and protection.
The need for a trellis and yearly pruning may make raspberries seem labor-intensive. However, raspberries offer rich rewards.
Nothing beats the taste of fresh raspberries, homemade raspberry jam, or a refreshing raspberry smoothie.
Below, we’ll discuss raspberries in greater detail, including their growing cycle and which varieties perform best in the different U.S. hardiness zones.
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Floricanes and Primocanes: The Raspberry Growing Cycle
It takes two years for most raspberry plants to produce fruit.
In the first year, summer-bearing plants develop green stalks called primocanes.
As the primocanes age, they develop a rough, brown bark. By the time winter arrives, the plant is in full dormancy.
Then, in the second growing season, raspberries grow floricanes.
Floricanes are woody branches that will produce fruit in early or mid-summer. After the fruit drops, the floricanes will die.
Roots and crowns will remain through the winter. Then, in spring, new primocanes grow in, starting the cycle over again.
Everbearing raspberry plants work a little differently.
They produce fruit on both primocanes and floricanes. So, they can produce fruit twice a year.
The first fruit is in early spring on their primocane. The second is in the fall, on their floricanes.
Raspberry Growth Patterns
When considering which type of raspberry to plant in your garden, it’s crucial to consider raspberry growth patterns.
Black and purple varietals only produce new primocanes from last season’s floricanes. This causes them to grow in clumps or hills rather than a patch.
A clump or hill may be ideal for garden spaces. Essentially, these plants stay where you put them.
Most red and yellow raspberry plants aren’t quite as manageable. They tend to grow into a traditional raspberry patch.
New canes grow from the base of floricanes, just like black and purple varieties. However, they also grow from roots, creating underground stems.
These underground stems will pop up in all directions. That makes red and yellow raspberries tough to maintain.
Pruning is vital for all raspberry plants, but it’s more labor-intensive with yellow and red varieties.
Where Raspberries Grow
Raspberries generally prefer cool winters, mild summers, and plenty of sunshine. However, many raspberry cultivars thrive in non-traditional conditions.
That means raspberries are growable in most areas of the United States, specifically hardiness zones 3-9. Below, we provide examples of ideal varieties by area:
- For cooler, northern areas like Minneapolis, Minnesota, try the Boyne variety. It produces tender, sweet berries that hold up well to freezing.
- For warmer, humid areas like San Antonio, Texas, or Orlando, Florida, try the hardy, Dorman Red variety. This is one of few varieties that stands up to high humidity.
- For drier areas with relatively mild winters like Boise, Idaho, or Spokane, Washington, almost any type of raspberry will do. Red Royalty is a particular favorite. They’re large, high-yielding, and perfect for making homemade jam.
The only area of the U.S. where raspberries may struggle is in the southeast.
Severe humidity without a cold winter makes even the hardiest raspberry plants prone to rot and disease.
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Raspberries are a marvelous addition to many gardens, and they’re relatively easy to grow.
However, planting raspberries isn’t as simple as purchasing a bare-root plant and plopping it into your garden’s soil.
You’ll need to consider the number of square foot gardening raspberries require when planning your garden’s footprint.
You’ll also need to build a trellis or insert a fence. After that, you can plant your raspberries.
Square Foot for Gardening Raspberries
It’s easiest to grow raspberries in long rows. Organized rows make pruning and harvesting relatively simple.
When planting rows, you’ll need to give each plant two feet of space and ensure a two-foot aisle between rows.
Alternatively, you can grow raspberries in a rounded patch. Patches make harvesting fruit a little tricky, though.
Berries will produce in the patch’s center as well as its edges. So, you may have to reach through thorny canes to get the central berries.
Finally, you can grow raspberries against an existing fence. The fence will provide support, just like a trellis. So, if you have fence space available, this is one of the better options.
Building a Raspberry Trellis
If you’re opting to grow your raspberries in rows and not against an existing fence, you’ll need to create a trellis of some sort.
A trellis protects from winds and weather that can bend and break canes, limiting fruit production. It also keeps the plant manageable so that pruning and harvesting aren’t so difficult.
The simplest trellis consists of two poles at the ends of each row of raspberry plants.
From the poles, string lines of wire or twine. The lines of twine or wire should sit at 2, 3, and 4 feet off the ground. This setup provides optimal support to your raspberry plants as they grow.
You could also opt to grow your raspberries against decorative fencing or an arbor. Just make sure whatever you use is sturdy and anchored to the ground.
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How To Plant Raspberries
Once you’ve marked out a space and have plans for a trellis, arbor, or fence, you’re ready to plant your raspberries.
Ideally, the area you picked gets full sun, especially in early spring when fruits are forming.
Raspberries will still grow in partial shade but won’t bear as much fruit.
Make sure the area you choose also has rich, well-draining soil. If the soil in your garden lacks nutrients, mix a few inches of compost into the area.
You also want to ensure there are plenty of pollinators around.
Raspberries need honey bees or bumble bees to produce fruit. If you don’t see many in your area, consider planting other pollinator-attracting plants near your raspberries.
Once you ensure all the area conditions are met, till the soil well. Then, dig a hole that will fit your plant’s mass roots.
Finally, insert your plants, so their crown sits 2 inches above the ground.
Caring for Your Raspberries
Like all plants, raspberries require proper care to thrive. You’ll need to provide the right amount of water and ensure your soil is nutrient-rich.
You should also plan to prune back canes regularly. And, you’ll need to pay attention to harvest time. Letting fruit rot on raspberry canes is a waste and may attract unwanted pests.
Below, we dig deeper into each of these raspberry musts.
Raspberries don’t like high-humidity areas much because they’re susceptible to rot and fungi. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t like water.
Raspberries need plenty of water, especially in early spring while they’re flowering. Ideally, you’ll give them 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week.
Keep in mind that their root system is very shallow. So, you need to water regularly. Using deep soak methods doesn’t work with raspberries.
Fertilizer, Mulch, and Weeds
Raspberry plants need nutrient-rich soil to thrive. That means fertilizer is essential.
You’ll want to use composted manure or another potassium and nitrogen-rich fertilizer. Apply the fertilizer when planting and once per year after that.
Mulching is also ideal for raspberries. A 2 to 3-inch layer of mulch will help conserve moisture in the soil and prevent weeds from taking over.
Weeds are the enemy of healthy raspberry plants. Because raspberries need significant soil nutrients, weeds are deadly competitors.
If weeds grow around your raspberry plants, they’ll steal the soil nutrients. Unfortunately, that means your raspberries will struggle to survive and fruit.
So, even with mulch, regular weeding is crucial when growing raspberries.
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Annual pruning will keep your raspberry plants from growing into tangled messes. Pruning also helps keep your plants disease-free.
Pruning techniques vary by variety.
Pruning Red and Yellow Summer-Bearing Raspberries
For summer-bearing red and yellow raspberries, prune all canes that produced fruit to ground level each fall. Then, thin the primocanes to 4 or 5 per row.
Pruning Ever-Bearing Raspberries
For ever-bearing varieties, thin the primocanes in fall to 4 or 5 per row, just like you would with summer-bearing plants.
However, you need to ensure you leave primocanes that produced fall fruit. That way, come spring, they’ll produce fruit again.
In spring, you can prune ever-bearing raspberries back to the last visible fruit-producing node.
Pruning Black and Purple Raspberries
For black and purple raspberries, prune back all the canes that produce fruit to ground level each fall. You’ll also want to thin the primocanes to 4 or five per row.
Finally, before growth begins in the spring, consider cutting all side branches that extend past twelve inches. This will make the plant more manageable during the fruiting season.
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Raspberries are fragile, so you’ll need to take care when harvesting them.
You’ll know they’re ready to harvest when they’re plump, soft, and bright-colored. They’ll also come away from the plant easily.
As you pick them, place them in a shallow container, not a bowl. Raspberries can’t sit on top of one another without crushing the bottom layer.
Once you pick them, you should eat, freeze, or turn them into jam right away. Raspberries won’t last in the fridge for more than a few days.
Companion Plants To Consider
If you plan to place a raspberry plant in your garden, you’ll want to consider companion plants too.
Certain plants don’t do well next to raspberries.
Other brambles, for example, need their own space. Never plant blackberries or dewberries within 300 feet of your raspberries.
Tomatoes, potatoes, and other nightshades also shouldn’t share soil with raspberry plants. Their roots are particularly susceptible to blight which can ruin your raspberries.
Companion plants that do work well include:
- Leafy greens (like Kale)
Raspberries tend to attract insects like wasps and fruit flies, especially if their fruit becomes overripe. Ripe fruit also attracts these pests.
- Multicolored Asian lady beetles
- Sap beetles
- Corn rootworms
All of these will deplete your berry crop. Harvesting fruit as soon as it’s ready will help prevent too many pests from breeding on your raspberries.
Besides bugs, you also need to watch for rabbits.
Rabbits love raspberry canes. During winter, they’ll eat them down to the ground, thorns and all.
Since you need canes to survive if you want a summer harvest, it’s crucial to prevent rabbits from getting near raspberry plants.
Chicken wire is usually adequate for this. Simply create a chicken wire fence to encircle your raspberry plants over winter and remove it when spring arrives.
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Raspberries are bright, juicy, and sweet, making them a rewarding plant for any gardener to grow. Luckily, they thrive throughout most of the United States.
To grow raspberries successfully, select the right varietal for your area. Be sure to pay attention to square footage requirements and consider a trellis or fence.
Then, with the proper care and a little patience, you’ll have a delicious raspberry harvest.
I’m Elsa, and I love gardening. I started GardeningElsa.com as a resource for other gardeners, and I offer expert advice on gardening topics such as plants, flowers, herbs, and vegetable gardening. On my website, I share my latest tips and tricks for creating beautiful gardens. When I’m not working on my website, you can find me in my own garden, tending to my plants and flowers. Read more about me.