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(Species: Rubus idaeus - Family: Rosaceae)
Raspberry and its origins
The raspberry is a hardy deciduous shrub grown for its berries. It is a species of Rubus and is native to Europe and Northern Asia. It is widely cultivated in temperate regions.
The name 'idaeus' refers to its presence on Mount Ida, near Troy in North-West Turkey, where the ancient Greeks were familiar with the fruit.
Raspberries are attractive and delicious berries that are produced in clusters after an insignificant blossom. The raspberry leaves are rough to the touch and fragrant. The plant’s root or 'stool' produces stems or 'canes' and the blossom, fruits and foliage are produced on these.
There are two different types for cultivation:
They bear their fruit on short sideshoots that are produced on the previous years' canes, and can be harvested from midsummer.
They bear their fruit on the top of the current year's canes, and can be harvested from late summer to the first frosts. Although the autumn varieties have smaller yields, they can be pruned so that they deliver a double raspberry crop.
How to plant: Raspberry
Raspberries are very easy to grow, and crop prolifically. Buy plants that are certified stock, i.e. free of viruses because the plant is prone to infections. It is sold in bundles of bare-root canes.
As raspberry plant is native to Northern Europe, they are tolerant of moist soils and cool weather. They like moisture-retentive, fertile soils that are well-drained and free of weeds. They prefer soil that is slightly acidic, and dislike chalky soils.
Plant the new plants during the dormant season, ideally between November and March, at a time when the ground is not frozen or waterlogged. Ideally, plant raspberries in a sunny spot, or part shade and keep them sheltered because the flowers, although self-fertile, need to be pollinated by insects, so a windy site should be avoided.
The summer fruits need a strong support system, such as a row of double wires; the top one 1.5m high, the bottom 60cm high, and attach to the posts. The autumn fruits don't need any support as their canes are shorter. Dig plenty of organic matter into the soil beforehand, and plant each cane at least 30cm apart. Water the raspberry plant well and add a mulch of compost or organic matter.
When the canes start to bear foliage, cut them back to about 15cm. In late summer, you will need to tie summer-fruiting canes to the support wires. Every spring, feed with a XXXXX general-purpose fertiliser and mulch.
When summer canes have finished cropping, cut them out and tie in new ones, thinning to 10cm apart. Autumn raspberries should be cut down to the ground in midwinter, but to extend the crop to summer fruiting as well, only cut down half the canes, and shorten the rest by one-half: these will produce new shoots in the spring that will fruit in the summer. When they have finished producing crops, cut back to ground level.
Harvest on a dry day; the berries are easy to pull off their core. If possible, do not wash them as this could impair the flavour and damage the berry.
Raspberries are prone to viruses and plants are likely to need replacing within ten years or less. The main pest is raspberry beetle: treat with XXX.
Propagation of Raspberries
Only propagate from raspberry plants that are certified free of viruses and appear robust and healthy.
The easiest way to increase stock is to lift some of the healthy suckers that appear between the canes, and replant them in the same conditions as described above. Large clumps can also be dug up and divided, then replanted.
You can also take softwood or semi-ripe cuttings.
Did you know: Raspberry facts
Raspberry leaves have long been used as a folk medicine and are also used commercially to make a pleasant herbal tea.