Raspberries! Is there any berry that is synonymous with summer more than raspberries? Serve with ice cream, eat them out of hand — however you do it – you know it’s summer if you are snacking on fresh, locally-grown raspberries. And you can do that in your own backyard.
Right now (August 2020) we have Rubus ideaus ‘Heritage’ in stock. This is a fall bearing selection of red raspberry. In addition to providing tasty fruit for your garden, Rubus ideaus is recognized by pollination experts as providing nutrition for bees, as well as nesting material. (https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=ruid). Birds and butterflies will also visit your plants.
Raspberries are easy to grow. There is no need to fuss about pests, diseases, or general maintenance. All you need is a space in full sun, well-draining soil, some rain throughout the season, and the space for them to grow. That’s it! But, if you’d like a few more details, keep reading.
How to Grow
‘Heritage’ is self-fertile – so you only need one plant. If you do have room for more than one, they will help each other bear a heavier crop. You will enjoy the plant in spring as its delightful pink blossoms are visited by pollinators. These ‘busy bees’ are preparing your plants to set fruit. (The plants here at the nursery have berries on them already.)
Heritage grows about 5’–6′ tall with a spread of 3–4′. It is a quick grower, putting on one to two feet of growth year. Their rounded shaped means you do not need to stake or trellis them. Apply a clean mulch about 4” deep on initial planting. Some experts recommend that you establish a permanent sod cover between rows of bramble berries, rather than mulch after the first year.
Fall-bearing red raspberries such as “Heritage’ produce two crops—the summer crop is produced on the previous year’s growth. The late summer, early fall crop appears at the tips of the current year’s growth. ‘Heritage’ will continue to bear fruit through frost and the fruits hold up under a light frost.
If you want to prune to manage yield, there are several approaches:
- To Produce Two Crops (early summer, and fall): In Spring, prune out all weak, diseased, and damaged canes at ground level. Leave the largest, most vigorous canes. Cut back the tips of the canes that remain, removing the upper one-third.
- To Produce One Larger Crop (fall): in early spring, prune all canes back to the ground. This will result in a single crop in late summer or early fall. You won’t get the early summer crop on the older canes, but you will get a vigorous crop on the new canes in the fall.
- The Lazy Approach: Prune out any canes that are bothering you, or going in a haphazard direction, whenever you need to. You will still get berries!
- However you choose to prune, in the fall do not cut out the dying canes that fruited that summer. These canes help the plant survive dormancy. (https://www.finegardening.com/article/pruning-red-raspberries)
The Long Haul
If you wish the yields on our plants were higher or the berries plumper, make sure the plant is getting about an inch of water a week. Once the berries are set, up to 4″ of water a week will help them become plump and juicy.
Nitrogen fertilizer will help your plants remain vigorous and fruiting.
Consider adding a second plant to aid in increased pollination.
If your plants are very thick, full, and lush, it may be competing against itself for nutrients and water. The dense foliage may be creating shady moist conditions that favor fungal diseases.
If this is the case, do some thinning pruning. Remove selective canes to allow plenty of sunlight and air to penetrate the bramble. You’ll have bigger, healthier crops and a much easier time picking those sweet red berries.
If you’ve reached this far in our article and are feeling overwhelmed, remember that raspberry plants have grown for eons on the planet without human help. Plant one today to get started. You can learn the rest as you go along. Any raspberry is better than no raspberry — right? ENJOY!