How to Grow Raspberries in Containers

Red RaspberriesAre you convinced that you can’t grow anything at all and have a completely brown thumb? 

I guarantee you – there is hope! Growing raspberries is like trying to grow weeds, seriously.

 You’ll be able to grow a bounty of delicious raspberries, promise. They’re so easy and yummy that they make a perfect beginner crop for kids too.

They can handle minimal care, less than ideal soil and will happily live in containers for years too.

They’ll even take some drought and still recover to produce beautiful berries for you all season long.

Raspberry Varieties

What kind of raspberry plant to choose?? There are so many types!

Each colour and variety has slightly different characteristics and growth habits. All of the different varieties are bred to make them more suitable to different characteristics, climates and temperature zones. It’s a safe bet that if the particular plants are for sale in your area, then it’s likely that they are good to live in your area.

If you live in an exceptionally cold place or a place that has sharp or long cold winters your raspberry plant might not survive very long in a container. This happens because they don’t have the insulation of the (underground) ground around the roots to keep them warmer. The container will freeze more quickly and more solidly than the ground soil will. 

If you are using a raised bed or very large container then it will likely fair better. 



These are just few of the many varieties of raspberry available:

  • Autumn Bliss: ripens early fall, large fruit, medium height canes
  • Meeker: upright variety, low maintenance, no need for staking usually
  • Heritage:  2 crops per year, one in early summer and another in August. Self pollinating.
  • Nova: ripens early, tart flavour, does best in zone 5 or greater
  • Boyne: ripens early, small fruit, winter hardy, very productive
  • Tulameen: ripens very late, large fruit, good choice for home garden, does best in zone 5 or greater
  • Latham (red) – Extra sweet, hardy, ripens mid June, self pollinating
  • September (red) – Ripens early summer and late August, self pollinating
  • Fall Gold: Ever-bearing, yellow-gold fruit, unique very sweet flavour, harvest from June to October, no need for staking

The availability of different varieties varies greatly around the continent. You will likely be able to find varieties I have not mentioned here and/or you may not be able to find the ones that I have listed here. 

Choose a variety that is local to your region and bred to withstand the weather of the area. This will ensure you get a lower maintenance plant and an easier growing season with a more rewarding harvest.

I recommend that you try the golden variety, the Fall Gold is what I have. These are a beautiful golden yellow colour and is distinctly different in taste. These have a unique flavour and are sweeter than the red ones.

Fall Gold raspberries won’t need staking like some of the other varieties as they only grow about 5 feet tall and have strong biennial canes to support the weight of the fruit.

Black and Purple RaspberriesBlack Raspberry

Brandywine Purple
Royalty Purple
Bristol Black raspberry
Black Hawk – Heat resistant, mid season crop, self pollinating
Cumberland black raspberry – Ripens mid July, self pollinating, strong flavour

Royalty Purples are delicious but taste nothing like any of the other colours either.

Black raspberries are more dense and have a different, slightly more tart flavour to the rest of the colours and varieties.

If you have wild blackberries growing in the surrounding areas then you will have a greater chance of picking up pests from there such as the Raspberry Crown Borer.

Both purple and black raspberries have a vining nature and do need a bit of space to spread out, so if you only have a little then don’t bother with this plant. Stick with the red and golden varieties. Yellow Raspberry

 

The Gold raspberry varieties are delicious, unique and will more than adequately fill the spot in the garden.

There are several yellow varieties in the stores, availability varies by region:

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Contain Your Raspberries

Even if you have an in-ground garden, I strongly recommend a containment system for your raspberry plants because they spread very quickly by underground shoots known as rhizomes.

A large 24″ toy tub will be more than adequate for growing raspberries as well as just about any other berry too.

Red, Black, Purple and Yellow Raspberries

If you are working with a raised bed, I recommend a long and narrow 2′ wide bed because it’ll be easier to reach all the berries from both sides and it helps facilitate better airflow as well.

The reason for the extra thought when choosing the place to plant them is worth the time and effort because they have a relentless underground sprouting system.

Once they get established they can easily become hard to control and keep contained.

They will spread themselves as far and wide as they can find soil. This isn’t necessarily bad but it needs to be considered beforehand.

It’s technically a weed and that’s the same characteristic that makes it a tough, perfect plant for beginners and brown thumbs.

Don’t let them loose!

If you’re in a rush and eager to plant for the harvest to come and choose not to pre-plan the containment system for them and just plant them loose in your yard then you’ll likely regret that decision after just a couple of years. They will be growing happily in all directions and everywhere you don’t want them.

Containment Creativity

If you really want them to look like they are planted in the ground and have the space options open to you, then you just need to create a containment system for them under the surface of the soil.  This is just a matter of creativity and ingenuity.

It can be as simple as planting them in a standard container and then dig a big hole to bury that whole thing. Then your plant will look like it’s growing in the ground but without the hassles.

One suggestion is to make a rectangle frame of any plexiglass type material with the corners screwed together really well, make sure it’s at least 18″ deep to contain the deeper roots and shoots.

The method is simply to dig a narrow channel in the very same shape to sink the frame into…essentially making a buried raised bed.

The sides will contain the fast spreading rhizomes. If the soil you have is lacking then you can dig it out from the center of the frame and fill it with nicer planting mix.

Raspberry PestsRaspberry Cane Borer 20140403 Close up

There are some insect pests that will attack your raspberry plants. These include pests such as skeletonizers and spittle bug nymphs, cane borers, and crown borers.

Safer Brand makes this all purpose spray for Spittle Bug Nymphs that is certified organic and OMRI listed. It will take care of them in short order and not damage the ecosystem.

To ensure that your plants do not get Raspberry Crown Borer it’s helpful to spray down the root ball and entire plant with Spinosad two or three times in the early spring and just after the flowers open.

Spinosad is a microbial pesticide that attacks worms and larvae only. It’s harmless to humans and pets, it’s safe for food crops and is widely used in the organic gardening industry.

This product is harmful to bees –but only when wet and freshly applied–  so use this product at night when the bee activity is lowest. The danger passes when the liquid dries up.

Pruning Raspberries

For the vining varieties that grow long and far, I recommend just keeping them trimmed to a manageable size and height. The plant will adapt and produce fruit anyway.

Purple RaspberryThe red and yellow varieties grow a set of fresh green canes called Primocanes each year which grow 4′-5′ tall.

The first year the plant will grow primocanes which do not produce fruit in their first year.

Over the winter, these canes will mature and turn brown. By the next growing year they will mature and be called floricanes. These canes are the ones that will be ready to produce fruit in the summer.

Then during that year the plant will grow another set of green canes.

The fruit grows only on the older, second year canes that grew in the first year. This is called a Biennial Growth Cycle.



Fertilizer

Raspberries will produce a good harvest on their own without a lot of care and attention, but at the same time they will respond well to the addition of fertilizer and nutrients to the surrounding soil.

Using raspberry fertilizer, such as this one made by Gardens Alive! will increase yields and help feed the canes throughout the spring and summer. “Super Grow for Plants” is a natural enzyme plant booster that’s suitable for all plants and also a good option for feeding them.

Applying good quality fertilizer will help develop a stronger healthier plant which in turn produces larger and more flavourful harvests.

End of Season Clean Up

Once they are done fruiting, leave the largest green canes in tact but cut the little spindly ones down to about 1″ high.

Then for the brown canes, these are the ones that grew last year and produced fruit this year…cut out the damaged and the smallest of these to allow the larger canes to receive more of the plants energy to produce fruit.

The ever-bearing varieties will give two harvests each season, so wait until late fall before cutting those types down. The second crop grows on the very ends of the tall green canes.

During all pruning be careful not to damage the new green shoots that just grew this year, they are delicate. Those will be the ones that produce the fruit next year.

Fall Clean Up

Cut the tallest canes down to a more manageable height, usually about 4′ or 5′ is good. This stops the plant from getting too leggy. Thin them out so that only 3-5 of the strongest canes (per linear foot) stay standing for the winter.

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In the spring, usually around March (depending on your zone) you’ll see the new shoots emerging on last years canes and also you’ll see new green shoots coming out of the soil.

Leave the largest of the canes that are making sprouts and cut the dead tips of these canes above where they are making shoots. This will help to ensure a very healthy plant that produces large berries on large healthy canes.

That’s all until spring

That’s all you have to do until next spring. In the spring the new green shoots will emerge and the green shoots of last year will have turned brown and are now ready to make flower buds and eventually produce fruit later in the summer. Use your pruners to cut the dead top ends of the canes that are not making new shoots.

Spring FeedingMixed Raspberries

In the early spring, give them some good organic seaweed fertilizer or fish fertilizer mixed with water and sprayed on the plants with a hose end sprayer.

It’s a little bit smelly but the plants LOVE IT!

Include other nutritional options such as worm castings, guano or good compost.

Give them a feeding of organic fertilizer in the mid summer as well, twice a year is enough. 

If you have just a small area or a few containers then use a watering can and mix the solution in there.

I recommend Neptune’s Harvest Organic Fish and Seaweed Fertilizer because it’s a combination product with both seaweed and fish fertilizer in one. Save time and spray both together.

You should find raspberries generally very easy to grow. Let me know how your raspberry garden goes!

Please leave a comment below and tell me your experiences with growing raspberries.


Comments

How to Grow Raspberries in Containers — 65 Comments

  1. I love this post and the comment thread it is super informative!! I do have a question thou, I just planted my new raspberry bush in a 18″ pot, followed the directions from the thread and put gravel at the bottom used potting soil for containers. My question is how often do I water the plant? I don’t want to over water it nor do I want to not give it enough water. Should I water it daily like I do the rest of my garden?

    • I’m so glad this post and all the comments helped you! As far as watering goes, it won’t need water everyday. Where do you live?

      The watering depends a lot on the climate of your area. If you live in a desert type of climate then you’ll need to keep a close eye on it and water it often but if you live in a place that gets cooler variable weather with rain and such then the plant won’t need as much watering at all.

      If you stick your finger into the soil and it’s dry more then 1″ down then it would be ok to give it a splash of water.

  2. I live in the “Southern Tier” of New York and have two potted raspberry plants. How do I keep them for the winter? Do I move them into my unheated garage or put them in my slightly heated cellar? Do I have to water them or let them go for the winter?

    • They should do just fine outside. They need to have a winter dormancy spell. Are they in larger pots or small ones? If they seem dry then give them a splash of water but usually the natural rain is enough. How much rain do you get over the winter months?

      • We get about 30-40 inches of snow a year and it is usually on the ground for January and February. The plants are in larger pots but they are on the side of the house that gets winter winds and snows. I am happy to leave them there as the pots are pretty heavy! Let me know if that seems OK. Thanks for all of the help.

        • I think your raspberries will be fine there, they’re tough plants. I’ve left my raspberry plants sitting under snow without any protection for quite a long time and they still recover and grow just fine in the spring. I’m glad I could help!

  3. Hi,

    I live in New Zealand so it’s spring in September. I have a one year raspberry plant with 3 canes. I think they have all previously fruited and they are brown inside after cutting them down to 300mmm (12″). If I wanted to start again could I cut all canes off and encourage new shoots from the crown or would this kill the plant.

    Thanks,
    Alan

    • Cutting all the canes probably wouldn’t kill the plant, you would just set your harvest back a year. If you cut all of your current canes to the ground then you would have to wait for 2 years to get a good harvest.

  4. You recommend a trench enclosed vertically, 18 inches deep. That depth is sufficient yo prevent the rhizomed from ‘escaping’ out of the in-ground ‘box’?

    • 18″ should be good but if you want to, you can definitely dig it in further, it would just be extra security and guarantee there would be no escapees. Any time that I’ve ever dug up a raspberry plant, the roots and runners have always been quite shallow.

  5. I too have a raspberry plant in a large container. How do I store it in the winter? I live in a townhome with west and north facing patios. I do not have an unheated garage, storage shed or greenhouse. The basement is heated. Is there an alternative to storing the container and plant besides those three areas? I live in Zone 5b (Fort Collins, CO 80526).

    • You should be able to get away with leaving the container outside all winter. Give it the most shelter you can, put it on the least windy side of the house. If your winter is projected to extra lengthy or cold, then I’d recommend wrapping the container in some layers of burlap for extra insulation. That should be enough to get them through until spring.

    • The winter care for container raspberries would be entirely dependant on the length and severity of the winters in your area.

      If you have long cold winters that stay below freezing for months, then you’ll need to bring them in to a garage, greenhouse or shed for shelter. But if you live in a place that has warmer temperate winters, with only a short time of freezing weather then they can be left outside without issue.

      Describe how your typical winter goes…or what general area do you live in? Then I’ll be able to give you a more detailed answer for your climate zone.

  6. I just bought 3 heritage raspberry plants and I amended the soil with composted manure, perlite, peat moss, sand, and organic bone meal phosphorus, sulfur, and nitrogen. And I gave it some seaweed and fish fertilizer for the potassium and some of my worm poop from my worm bin. I made sure that it was very well draining because the first time I tried growing raspberry plants I don’t know what I did wrong but I suspect that it was too wet so I fixed it but I live in Vegas and it’s so hot that I have to water a lot because I didn’t want it to be too wet just to save myself the time for the extra watering. Anyways I placed them in to their own 5 gallon containers and put those trellis’ in so they would have plenty of support when they grow. And almost immediately the leaves started to curl up and get crispy so I checked the soil and I took them out and re-amended the soil with more perlite and put little crushed up cups on the bottom for more drainage. Then replanted them but the the leaves kept getting crispy and eventually would fall off if I touched them. And I felt the soil and it was dry so now I’m going to make sure that I give it more water because it’s draining faster but with the heat it is becoming dry a lot faster. I was wondering if they will be able to come back and grow again or is it to late and just try again? I’m hoping that if I keep watering them and make sure that they don’t dry out again that they will eventually be able to grow again..? I’m afraid that the shock of being too wet and then too dry killed them and I have to spend more money for new plants!? Please help me tell me what I can do to save them or at least make sure that the new plants won’t die!? Thanks I really appreciate any help you may have for me!

    • I’m sorry you’re having difficulties with the raspberries! All you did was make the soil way too rich and heavy with nutrients. The excessive nutrients burned the leaves off. In other words, I think you loved your raspberry plants to death.

      They really don’t need (or want) that much attention and feeding. Just use basic potting soil if you’re planting in containers or standard garden soil if you’re growing them in the ground. Then plant the raspberries and let them be. If anything, I’d use just the seaweed/fish fertiliser (or worm poop) a couple of times a year but that’s it. Either of those things will be sufficient and provide an array of nutrients for the plant to use.

      Since you live in a very hot area, keep an eye on them while they’re producing fruit and I’d recommend giving them some water every day that it’s really hot. But at the same time don’t be too concerned with the exact level of wetness or dryness. They’re tough plants, they store water and will survive a surprising amount of drought. If it seems like the plant isn’t absorbing water though, then you can set the container in a tray or tub of water so the roots can have a long soak.

      Installing a mini drip system is a good way of giving a slow steady supply of water to an in-ground raspberry patch or raised bed.

      If there is any life at all left in the plants you have, then you can cut the stalks down to 6″ inches tall or so and plant that (keep it well watered), it’ll grow new canes next year.

      Good luck, let me know how it goes and if you need more help.

  7. I have several red nova raspberries I grow in pots in just one pot the top of the soil is turning a shiny green, does anyone know what this means

    • Sounds like some type of algae. Does the soil surface stay wet a lot of the time? Let it dry out for a while if that’s the case. I’m not sure why it would be happening to just one container and not the rest though, if it’s a new issue then it’s most likely just beginning to spread. A sprinkling of cinnamon on the soil surface will help to kill the algae spores.

      If anyone has more info on this, please leave a comment.

  8. Just bought 4 black raspberries for an arbor in Florida. Plan on growing them in 24″ containers buried half to 3/4 in the ground. Should I add gravel to the bottom to aid in drainage and keep the plant from developing root rot? Also what dirt do you suggest? Thinking of also adding some seeds starting mix for the peat moss to keep the dirt slightly moister.

    • That should work very well, look very nice growing over an arbor and taste even better. It’ll just need fairly frequent pruning to keep it out of your hair as you walk through it. Adding gravel to the bottom of the pot will be a good idea, it’ll help drainage and the help the soil from staying too wet at the bottom of the pot.

      I would recommend just regular potting soil, adding the seed starting mix would fluff it up a bit and help hold some moisture.

  9. If I grow my Fall Gold raspberries in a large bin should I take it inside for the winter or leave it outside? I live in Southeast Massachusetts right near the water and we get a lot of snow so would it be to cold even for an ever-bearing plant?

    • Yes, I recommend bringing it inside for the winter or at least to a sheltered area. It sounds like it gets pretty cold there sometimes. If you have a garage or greenhouse where the container could be for the winter then it should survive just fine. Water it occasionally so the soil stays just barely wet while it’s inside and dormant. Then move it outside again when the weather stabilizes and the temperature stays in the neighbourhood of 45 – 50 degrees or more.
      Good luck!

  10. Hi Stacy. I just received an everlasting raspberry plant. I reside in an apartment complex that does not allow plants to grow above the five foot brick wall. I am going to place it in a pot. I was wondering how tall the raspberry plant will grow? Is it possible to keep the raspberry plant controlled by a support shorter than the wall. I love my plant and do want to keep it? Your advice would be greatly appreciated. Pat

    • You can definitely keep the raspberry plant in the container and under control with pruning as needed and in the winter. The biggest thing to do is clip off the tall canes with pruners to keep it below the 5′ limit. The everbearing plants will adapt. They usually create a second crop of berries right at the very ends of the canes late in the season.

      Don’t worry if you lose a few baby berries because you have to cut them down because of the height. Also prune out the tiny green canes that sprout of from the base. Generally the plant should adjust and produce well.

      Also, if you want you can bend the branches down carefully and tie them to a lower trellis. The branches are quite flexible. They’d stay below 5′ and still produce normally. Let me know if you have any problems.

  11. I’d like to grow some in a container because we live in a very rocky area. Which variety is best for container growing and stays the smallest for limited space?

    • Hi
      There is one variety of raspberry plant that I know of that’s a dwarf and will stay quite small. It’s maximum height is about 3′ tall with a more compact root system.

      The name of it is Brazelberry Raspberry Shortcake.

      You may be able to find it in your local nurseries in the spring (I’ve seen it in my area) but if you can’t find it, use the link above to order it and have it shipped to you.

      Good luck, let me know how it goes!

        • There are a few possible causes for this. To clarify, is it a matter of the plant producing flowers and then no fruit or is it that there are no flowers and therefore never any fruit?

          If there are flowers but then no fruit, it would indicate that it’s a lack of pollination issue. If there are no flowers forming at all, then it would indicate more of a plant health issue. Let me know a few details if possible.

          Also, are you doing any pruning on it? Have you cut out any of its’ canes over those 3 years? This could affect the plants ability to produce if it’s done incorrectly.

    • You’re most welcome! I’m glad the info has helped you get started with raspberries. They’re a great plant to add to the garden and with the right planning you’ll enjoy the harvests for many seasons to come in the future.

  12. I don’t want to leave my container of raspberries outside on my deck over winter in southern Alberta. The container will be ruined. Will my black raspberries survive in a heated basement for the winter.
    How much water if any should they have? I was thinking regular watering.

    • That’s a good idea, and also the raspberry probably wouldn’t make it through the winter outside on the deck. Do you have a garage by any chance? The plant doesn’t need to be warm like us, it just needs shelter from the worst of the cold. The plant will be in a dormant state through the winter and will only need a little bit of water to stay alive, maybe twice a week give it a splash of water and that should do.

    • Shirley, I’m about 2 hours north east of Edmonton and I overwintered my Brazelberry raspberry (and two potted strawberries) this winter in my heated garage near the door. I keep it around 5C and it’s pretty dark, so it’s perfect. But you do have to make sure it doesn’t dry out completely – I thought my raspberry had dried too far so I gave up on it. But then out of the bone dry earth it started sprouting new growth in March! So maybe keep an eye on it around March forward in case it starts growing too much and you get yellow leaves.

    • Those are the big round plastic containers with rope handles that I have a lot of my garden planted in.

      I called them toy tubs because they are often sold as a kids toy storage bin in a toy store. They can be found at many other stores though as well. The how to grow carrots page has a good picture of a toy tub about half way down.

  13. Hi
    I just bought a raspberry bush planted in a big plastic pot. Do I need to remove it from plastic pot and plant it in another ceramic or other pot?if yes how do I remove and plant it in another pot without affecting the roots?I’m relatively new to gardening and this is my first raspberry bush. Can u help me out?I live in Waukegan near Chicago IL.

    • Yes, definitely. The plant will need to be removed and put into another larger pot. It’ll be fine in ceramic but I prefer plastic just because of the much lighter weight.

      The raspberry plant is pretty tough, it’s actually a weed. You don’t need to worry very much about damaging the roots during normal repotting but be careful to protect any new shoots and green stalks.

      When you take it out of the pot that you bought it in, just give the rootball (if there is one) a bit of a massage to loosen up the roots and then plant it. Sometimes the raspberry “plant” that you buy from the store has been propagated recently and there won’t be a rootball like other plants, it’ll just be a collection of sticks with a few green shoots and a couple of roots.

      If it just falls apart when you pull it out of the pot that’s ok too, just plant the sticks vertically an inch or two deep. It should take just fine and start growing. Good luck! Let me know if you need more help.

  14. I am planning on planting raspberries in big plastic tubs/post sunk into my community garden. (I will have perennial access to my plot, but I want to keep my raspberries from infringing on my neighbors.) I’d like to drill some drainage holes in the bottom of the pots, but do you have any advice on how to prevent the roots from finding their way out?

    • Hi,
      I would just recommend using a deep container of about 15″. The underground sprouts will travel closer to the surface and it’s most unlikely that they’d look for an exit that far down in the soil at the depth of where you’d be putting the drain holes. For the drain holes, I would make several that are about the size of a pencil.

    • I have my black raspberries in a 15″ deep container and it’s more than enough space and depth. I’m using one of those large toy tubs with rope handles for them.

  15. Hi. ive just bought a 3 year old ‘Autumn Bliss’ raspberry bush which has 6 canes on it. i am planting it in a container. do i plant it as one bush or do i split the canes and roots so i have several bushes ? and is it ok to keep them in a green house ? thanks

    • Hello,
      What is the diameter of the container? If it’s large, like 18″+ around, then all six can go in it. But if you want, you can split them anyway and make two or three containers, it’ll just take a little longer for the bush to fill out that container. Doing it this way, it will take a few more years to outgrow the container.

      They’ll be fine in a greenhouse, just make sure they get adequate water and air flow, as many plant diseases form in stagnant air.

      • Hi Thanks for your reply.the container is 15″. is that ok or should i replant it into a larger one. its been in there for 5 days now.i live in the uk so our weather isnt brilliant. i open the greenhouse door each day to let air in and hopefully a passing bee !.as im also growing dwarf fruit trees and blueberries.

        • Yes, the 15″ container will be fine for a long time before it starts to get crowded. Put the plant in the sunniest spot you have and it’ll do fine with how you’re opening the door and giving ventilation (and bees). Blueberries are so delicious and pretty easy to grow too, do you get good harvests? Have you tried growing pink blueberries? Those are very unique and interesting.

          • Thanks Stacy..im relatively new to gardening so i welcome any advise. this is the first year ive started to do fruits. only grown tomatoes, sweet peppers and chillies before.which i did ok on.. so fingers crossed i do ok with the fruits. will keep you posted. thanks again

          • I’m so glad you decided to start gardening! I hope you’re enjoying it. What fruits have you decided to try? Is it berries?
            Let me know how it goes and ask me if you need any help.

            I’ve grown chili peppers in the past and really enjoyed it, I dried them and have been using them for 3 years now. They are so good in recipes.

  16. The first year we planted raspberries we had the best crop, the 9 years that followed…bad news. The raspberries get a little hole in them and when i look inside there is usually a little inch worm type critter. I have not found any effective remedies and am hesitant to use anything stronger, after all its a food crop.

    • Does the critter look like an inchworm as we typically recognize them or does it look more like a larvae?

      If it looks like a larvae, then it sounds like the patch has been overrun by Raspberry worms which are the larvae of the Raspberry beetle.

      There is a microbial pesticide called Spinosad that is widely used in organic gardens to kill this and many other pests. It’s harmless to humans and pets. It’s important to apply this product at night when bee activity is low because it’s harmful to them as long as the product is wet.

      What growth stage is the patch at? You can choose to apply this product right away or if the timing is right then you can wait until just before the flowers bloom to spray. Timing it this way targets that pest very well. Completely douse the entire patch top to bottom.

      Then do a second application after the flowers bloom to get the critters that might have been missed in the first application. This should have a big impact and hopefully you’ll get some edible berries this year. Let me know how it goes, good luck!

  17. I’m in Dallas and I’ve had a raspberry plant potted for about 3 years. It’s in a sunny spot and it’s large but it’s never given fruit. Why would that be? Also,
    I didn’t prune last fall. Am I too late to prune now? Thanks!

    • Hello!
      There are several possible factors that would/could cause it to not bear fruit.

      My first thought is, how enthusiastically are you pruning the plant?
      The plant needs to keep two years worth of the best/biggest canes in order to make fruit. The raspberry is a biennial plant and the fruit grows only on the second year canes, not the first. You should have some live brown canes remaining from last fall and new bright green ones emerging in the spring now/soon. If you’re cutting out the “old” canes at the end of each summer then that’s your reason. Those are your fruiting canes for the next year.

      It’s pretty easy to tell the difference between the whiteish-brown dead canes and the live darker second season canes which are also brown.

      Does the plant make any flowers? or does it make flowers and then not any fruit?
      If it makes flowers and then no fruit it would be lack of pollination. If it makes no flowers at all then I would wonder about the health and/or stress level of the entire plant.

      Do you happen to know what variety it is?
      If it’s not one of the right cultivars for your area then it won’t thrive and go through it’s growth cycle properly.

      Are there any other red raspberries nearby?
      Even though raspberries are technically self pollinating they’ll produce a lot better if there are other raspberry plants in your garden or close by.

      You might want also to check the acidity (pH) of the soil. If it’s too high then your plant won’t produce either. Raspberries prefer a pH of 5.6 to 6.2.
      Inexpensive soil testers can be found at the garden center.

      Let me know if you think any of those ideas might be a possible diagnosis…if not I’ll go back and find some more answers for you. 🙂

  18. I live in So Cal along the coast (Zone 24) and am wondering for an early Spring fruit and “Autumn Bliss” varieties planted in containers what soil composition or mix do you recommend? Also, I understand raspberries prefer slightly acidic?

    • The easiest (but not cheapest) solution for soil is usually a commercially made, purchased “container mix” in a bag. If you have only a few containers this is the best.
      If you have a lot of containers or raised beds then it’s better to create a recipe of your own container mix with a few individual ingredients that would be cheaper.
      Yes, raspberries like slightly acidic soil with a pH in the range of 5.6 to 6.2

  19. Can you explain what a “sucker” is and how to tell the difference between that and a new shoot we’d want to keep? hank you so much for this info: I was told when I bought my Heritage plant that it wouldn’t work, only for a year or two then die, so I basically felt like a plant-killer… Then I found your site and it seems I’m not the only one!! YAY!

    • Hi Lois 🙂

      To keep it simple, a sucker and a new shoot are pretty much the same thing. It’s just that you choose to keep some for future crops (and propagating) and cut some down so they don’t unnecessarily drain resources from the main plant. The ones that should stay are the largest, strongest green canes (new shoots) and cut all the smaller spindly canes (suckers) down to an inch or two from the ground. The strong new shoots (primocanes) that remain on the plant will grow fruit next year at which point they have changed and are now fruit bearing “Florocanes”.

      Let me know if that makes sense 🙂

      Are you growing them in containers or the ground? One big thing that will determine your success is your winter temperature. If your area gets really cold and stays that way for an extended length of time the raspberries in containers might not make it without you adding extra insulation to them. The ground naturally provides more insulation that a container does. I live in a really mild area (zone 7-8) so I can get away with a lot that way. What zone are you in?

      • Thanks for your reply…I live in Nice, in the south of France and it’s more likely too HOT rather than too cold. I was warned that full sun HERE would kill it…but it’ll be out of direct light in July/August. It’s on a balcony facing south, in a container, well drained, about 45cm square and 60cm high. I pruned as best I could and all the canes are now sprouting leaves…we’ll see how it fruits! It had a bit of rust when I bought it, which got a bit worse with the stress of transplanting but fruited well. The leaves started to turn brown from the edges in, at the very end of the fruiting season, and I was advised it was a deficiency, perhaps potassium. I’ve given it 3 good cm of compost, and was thinking to add a potassium rich seaweed type fertilizer now that leaves are coming… Our water is fairly calcareous too… . Live and learn, and keep trying, that’s all I can do!

        • It sounds like it’s heading in the right direction! I hope the plant produces well for you.
          The browning edges could be a potassium deficiency and/or it could be a touch of sun scorch or drought. The leaves will go brown on the edges if the plant has gotten a bit too dry for a spell. The plant will like the seaweed fertilizer too, it should help it a lot.

    • Raspberries love sunshine. The more sun exposure they get the sweeter the berry will be.

      It’s best to position them where they will get the maximum number of full sun hours each day. It’s a little tougher if you have buildings or trees around but plant or place the container in the direct line of the path of the sun if you can.

      Aim for 6-8 hours of direct sun a day while keeping them consistently watered will give you fat, juicy and sweet berries.

  20. Would a round cedar pot that is 22″ by 15″ deep work for raspberry plants? I have two Fall Golds and I think a Meeker. They are sending out shoots and I really don’t want that, but it’s hard to find an inexpensive cedar pot. Also, would I need to cut off ground shoots once the raspberries are potted so that the pot doesn’t get crowded?

    • Hi Sam

      Yes, a 22″ by 15″ pot is just fine. Several of mine are in pots that size. All you need to watch is that they get enough water in the dry summer season, they need quite a bit when growing fruit.

      For the shoots its best to leave most of them, prune out the smallest/weakest ones. Keep the largest of them, they are needed to produce next years crop with both Meeker and Fall Gold.

      The pruning becomes a cycle of allowing strong new shoots to remain and grow (to produce next years crop) and then cutting off spent canes from the previous year/s. So the container will take a long time to become over crowded, if it ever does.

    • I forgot to add that a raspberry plant has a life span of 8-10 years and it’s production will slowly decline after that.
      I have some plants that have been in the same (not necessarily large) container for 10+ years.
      Let me know if you need more help 🙂

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