Raspberries are a brilliant fruit to grow for a bumper summer berry harvest in even the smallest of gardens or backyards. You can even grow them in a pot or container on a balcony.
And they’re actually incredibly easy to grow.
I am to be honest not a great gardener but I still manage to grow a humungous crop of raspberries every year in my small south London garden. And I do this by ignoring at least half the tips by which too many gardening “experts” have over complicated raspberry growing!!
So to help you get started growing your own raspberries I’ve got for you here really easy tips on how to grow raspberries in a small space from cuttings which means you won’t even have to fork out for plants if you’re trying to grow your own food on a budget.
I’ll take you through simple tips on:
- Growing raspberries in a small space:
- Growing raspberries in pots and containers
- Growing raspberries from cuttings
- Caring for raspberries including watering & feeding
- How to prune raspberries
- How to harvest & store raspberries
- Best companion plants for raspberries
- Raspberry pests and diseases
And I know that looks like a lot if you’re just getting started but it’s all really simple stuff covering everything you need for a bumper crop, so do bookmark or save the post for quick reference later.
I do hope these simple raspberry growing tips help you get started growing your own. For more fruit and vegetable gardening tips for beginners do check out my other simple tips on how to grow your own food.
1. Growing Raspberries In A Small Space
Raspberries are great to grow in a small space because they can be very efficiently planted in a row at the back of a bed or against a fence or wall.
To help you plan your planting I’ll take you through the following assuming you’re going to plant in a row :
- How much space raspberries need
- How many raspberry canes you need
- Where to plant raspberry canes
- What soil raspberries like
- How to train raspberries
We’ll then look at growing raspberries in containers.
How Much Space Do Raspberries Need?
- You need roughly 30 cm / 1 foot space between each raspberry plant.
- The row will take up about 30cm front to back.
- But you need a little extra space to get along the row to pick fruit.
- If growing against a fence or wall leave a bit of wriggle room to get to berries that despite your best efforts to train them hide at the back.
- You can grow in double rows but in my experience you end up needing more space for picking and two single rows are better use of space. If you’re growing raspberries in a small space I also think a single row is healthier as plenty of air is the best prevention for raspberry diseases.
How Many Raspberry Canes Do I Need?
- You don’t need lots of raspberry plants for a decent harvest.
- Just one raspberry plant can produce around 2lb / 900g of fruit. That’s the equivalent of 6 little punnets you buy in the supermarket and about £15-£25 ($20-$35) worth of fruit.
- But 5 raspberry plants in a row will only take up a metre and a half of space and can easily give you 10lb of fruit. That’s plenty for a small family for puddings, smoothies, freezing and picking fresh for breakfast on a gorgeous summer’s day. It’s also a grand’s worth of fruit over 10 years which is not bad going from a few plants in a small space is it?
- When you’re growing raspberries in a small space don’t be tempted to cram them in. I did and learned the hard way you just end up with weaker plants and less fruit; remember healthy raspberry plants need fresh air!
Where To Plant Raspberry Canes?
- Raspberry plant do need some sun but they don’t want scorching afternoon sun.
- Raspberry also need wind protection which is another great reason for growing them in a small space against a fence or wall.
- I grow mine against an easterly facing fence so they get morning sun and are protected from the prevailing south westerly winds.
What Soil Do Raspberries Like?
- Raspberries are not super fussy about soil – unlike blueberries – which is good news for us beginners but do prefer acidic to neutral conditions.
- Experts will tell you raspberries don’t like clay or shallow or chalky soil.
- I live on what was the Lambeth marsh in south London; it’s London clay with a gravel topping and a smidgeon of chalk and I still manage to grow raspberries!!! So yes we need to look after soil but raspberries honestly aren’t in my experience that fussy about actual soil type.
- The key is that the raspberry roots don’t get soggy so if you do have a soggy garden you might want to think about a raised bed. This doesn’t have to be fancy, just something ad hoc that raises your row of raspberry plants above the rest of the bed.
How To Train Raspberries
- Raspberries do need training as raspberry canes grow 6 foot tall and will blow over without sturdy support.
- But raspberries do NOT need fancy double post systems as recommended by so many gardening books and experts!!
- As a beginner – trying to grow your own food on a budget – you can train raspberries using any old garden canes or posts you can pick up for free.
- If you get your hands on sturdy posts just put a post at each end of your 5 plant row and tie wire, string or garden canes between the posts.
- If you can only get garden canes, you can make a trellis with 3 or 4 verticals and 2 or 3 horizontal canes to support your row.
- I started off with a garden cane & string trellis almost 10 years ago when I first experimented with raspberries and sheltered by the fence from the prevailing winds it does just fine.
2. Growing Raspberries in Pots & Containers
- Raspberry plants can be grown in pots & containers.
- Raspberries need breadth rather than depth as they do not root deeply but grow new canes from their roots, your pot needs to be at least 50 cm / 20 inches wide.
- The container needs good drainage holes as raspberries don’t like sitting in water laden soil.
- Put a post or a little circle of lashed garden canes in the centre of your container and put 3 plants around the edge of your container training them to grow up the post.
- Alternatively you can now get dwarf raspberry plants that will grow as a bush rather than tall canes that can be ideal for growing raspberries in a pot in a very small space such as a balcony.
- The only down side of this is that you will almost certainly have to buy the dwarf raspberry bush £10-£15 / $15 – $25 rather than getting raspberry cuttings from other gardeners for free.
3. Growing Raspberries From Cuttings
- Growing raspberries from cuttings – and especially root cuttings – from other gardeners is very easy.
- The thing you need to know about raspberries is they put up new canes from their root suckers every year. The root suckers are constantly spreading and will cheekily thrust up new canes a good foot or more away from the nice neat row of raspberries you are efficiently growing in a small space at the back of the bed!!
- Every year raspberry growers need to dig up the new suckers trying to escape round the garden and cut them back to where they belong in their neat row.
- And that means every year raspberry growers near you will have spare root cuttings available you can blag or barter for, so do ask around in late winter and early spring when they will be pruning.
- As these cuttings already have roots they can be planted in exactly the same way as raspberry plants you get from the garden centre.
- Some gardening experts will warn you off taking cuttings as you might get diseased plants but the diseases that raspberries do get kill plants off pretty quickly so my view is you’re unlikely to get diseased plants from anyone with good harvests and new root cuttings to spare.
Growing raspberries from root cuttings is a brilliantly cheap way to start growing your own fruit and a lovely plant life cycle activity for kids as it helps them learn about different types of propagation apart from seeds.
4. Caring For Raspberry Plants
When To Plant Raspberry Canes?
- The best time to plant raspberry canes as with many fruit is in late autumn or late winter and early spring.
How to Water Raspberries?
- As mentioned raspberries don’t like sitting in too much water as this can cause the roots to rot but because they have very shallow roots they can dry out easily in a hot spring or in the summer.
- You can mulch them with straw to keep moist but if like me you’re growing in the city this can attract mice – and worse!! – that you don’t want so you may do better watering little and often.
- Watering in the morning rather than the evening can also help prevent roots getting soggy in wetter ground.
How To Feed Raspberry Plants?
- It’s very easy to spend a small fortune on plant feed, fertilisers and soil improvers for your raspberries and other fruit and veg when you first start growing your own.
- But we don’t need to fork out and lots of these feeds aren’t great long term for the soil or the environment. It has been suggested excessive feeding can cause spur blight on raspberries.
- I just put compost from my wormery on my raspberry plants and have never bothered with anything else. You can also feed raspberries with nitrogen rich used coffee grains.
- And most cleverly we can actually use nitrogen-fixing vegetables as companion plants – see section 9 – that both feed our raspberries and make best use of growing space in a small garden.
5. How To Prune Raspberries
- Pruning raspberries is honestly not complicated.
- But I was utterly confused for ages by all the expert talk of summer-fruiting, ever-bearing and autumn-fruiting raspberries and primocanes.
- All you need to know is:
- raspberries put up new green canes each year
- tie in the best looking new canes
- cut right down or dig up any new canes escaping too far away from your neat raspberry row
- after fruit finished cut right down canes that had fruit on them
- leave the green canes that haven’t had fruit yet, they will be next year’s croppers
- you can prune right away after fruiting or in autumn or if you forget in late winter and early spring although all your canes will now be brown so you’ll have to be more careful to take out those that actually had fruit last year.
- Pruning raspberries in dry weather can help to prevent problems with raspberry cane blight.
- If you do want to get clever you can double your raspberry crop by pruning some plants in spring and some plants in autumn.
6. How To Harvest Raspberries
- Depending on your plants you may get a two week burst in early summer or a longer harvest through summer and autumn.
- It’s best to harvest raspberries as soon as ready as they don’t last well and both birds and squirrels love them.
- Harvesting little and often as soon as fruit is ripe and removal of any damaged or old fruit is the best way to control common raspberry pests as described in section 8.
- I find you also get better quality berries and a bigger harvest if you pick little and often.
7. How To Store Raspberries
- Raspberries do need to be eaten pretty smartish as they don’t keep even in the fridge. It’s easiest just to pick them and eat them fresh as needed.
- But they are very easy to flash freeze on a cookie tray and then put into bags or jars to use in tarts and smoothies and cakes well into winter.
8. Raspberry Pests & Diseases
In all the years I’ve been growing raspberries I’ve not suffered with any significant pests beyond small children and squirrels raiding them for snacks!!
But like all plants, raspberries can suffer from specific pests and diseases and it is worth being aware of them as soon as you start growing raspberries so you can prevent them as much as possible and spot them quickly if they appear.
I’ve got a big list of common raspberry pests and diseases for reference for you below which I admit looks a bit daunting!!!
But the good news is there are a few very simple preventative things you can do to prevent and stop raspberry pests and diseases.
How To Stop Raspberry Pests & Diseases
- Give your plants plenty of fresh air even when you are growing raspberries in a small space by planting them in a well spaced single row. This will let them dry out properly after rain.
- Don’t let raspberry roots get soggy. Water lightly in the morning and consider raising the bed if your soil doesn’t drain well.
- Watch our for bugs in spring, manually removing into a little bucket of soapy water. If you get into the habit of a quick stroll round the garden at the end of the day before it gets dark you can also get rid of slugs & snails naturally at the same time.
- Use these simple organic gardening tips for beginners to encourage natural pest predators such as birds, ladybirds, lacewings and toads.
- Harvest raspberries as soon as ready and immediately remove any damaged or rotten fruit.
- Use simple DIY apple cider vinegar traps in the raspberry bed to catch adult raspberry pests before they breed.
- Plant companion plants that help see off pests. (See section 9).
Common Raspberry Pests
- Raspberry Beetle / Raspberry Worm : a small brown beetle the size of a small ladybird lays whitish brown larvae known as a Raspberry Worm on the fruit. Infected fruit get grey-brown dried up patches on them. The beetles will over winter in the soil so start looking for them emerging in spring to get on top of them. For more advice check out this guide on how to control raspberry fruitworms.
- Raspberry Sawfly : raspberry sawfly caterpillars will eat completely through raspberry leaves leaving just the veins intact. Sawfly caterpillar clusters are usually pretty easy to spot so you can just manually remove them or cut the leaves off and drown them in a bucket of soapy water.
- Raspberry Aphids : common aphids and specific raspberry aphids can cause leaf curl on raspberry plants reducing yield and spreading raspberry diseases. Look out for them in early spring & manually remove into soapy water to limit breeding. Encourage ladybirds and lacewings.
- Raspberry Cane Borers : if your raspberry canes are wilting look out for raspberry cane borers – striking thin beetles about a cm long with a splash of colour at the neck – who lay eggs inside the cane. Check out this guide to learn about raspberry cane borer control.
- Raspberry Leaf & Bud Mite : a tiny sap sucking mite causes yellow patches in leaves but the raspberry leaf mite doesn’t usually cause damage to plant overall or fruit.
- Spotted Wing Drosophila : the spotted wing drosophila are a fruit fly who lay tiny white larvae in the raspberry fruit. They are a growing problem but can be controlled by harvesting early and often and with simple apple cider vinegar fly traps amongst the canes to trap adults.
- Picnic Beetles : 1cm long brown or black beetles with yellow or orange splodges that eat the raspberries themselves. You can control picnic beetles on raspberries by again harvesting fruit as soon as ripe and making sure you don’t leave any old or rotten fruit on the canes. Picnic beetles can also be caught in simple DIY vinegar traps.
- Raspberry Root Rot : wilting brown leaves, dying plants and rotting roots are a sign of raspberry root rot which is typically caused by poor drainage especially in heavy clay soil. I do grow raspberries in clay without a problem but if your raspberries struggle with drainage try a raised bed. If you’re planting to make best use of your small space at the back of bed, you can raise the raspberry row higher than the rest of the bed for optimum drainage. Make sure not to over water, going for little and often in dry weather.
- Raspberry Spur Blight : purple and brown and then black markings beneath leaves and buds on the lower parts of new green canes are a sign of raspberry spur blight. Plenty of space between plants and simple single row planting helps to prevent spur blight. As mentioned before don’t be tempted when you’re growing raspberries in a small space to cram the plants in too tightly : they need fresh air.
- Raspberry Cane Blight : cracking second year canes with tiny pinhead black fungi growing on them can be a sign of raspberry cane blight. Again the best prevention is plenty of air so well spaced single rows. If you do get infected you will need to destroy the plants and change the soil.
- Raspberry Rust : a yellow fungus that grows on leaves and can reduce yields raspberry rust can again be prevented by giving raspberries plenty of air to dry out properly even when growing them in a small space.
9. Best Companion Plants For Raspberries
We talked in section 4 about the value of companion plants for feeding raspberries but the right companion plants can also help to keep away raspberry plant pests and prevent disease.
Bet Vegetables & Herbs To Grow With Raspberries In A Small Space
Growing a row of raspberries at the back of a vegetable patch is as I have said a great use of small space but what vegetables & herbs are the best companion plants for raspberries?
From my experience growing raspberries in a small garden, these are the real winners:
- Aliums : garlic, onions, leeks and chives with their natural antibiotic powers are as good for raspberries as they are for restoring our gut health!! They repel bugs and are a natural fungicide. So leave a little space in your bed for easy to grow garlic and pretty bee attracting chives as companion plants.
- Turnips : super-food, vitamin-c rich turnips with their delicious leaves – who knew? – are the forgotten heroes of the vegetable garden. They make a great companion crop for raspberries as like raspberries they don’t want too much sun and can also act as a trap crop for beetles and have traditionally been used to enrich soil naturally.
- Peas : peas are another crop that like the raspberries prefer gentle sun. Bush peas only grow to 2 or 3 feet so grown in front of raspberries won’t stop the raspberries being well aired. And like turnips, peas are great at fertilising the soil for raspberries as they are nitrogen fixers.
- Spinach : I grow spinach at the front of my raspberry bed as it only gets the morning sun and so I can keep the spinach going through the summer when it is too hot elsewhere in the garden.
- Chamomile : pretty chamomile is another really useful companion plant for raspberries as it attracts pollinators and acts as a natural fungicide for the raspberries as well as being a herbal headache remedy, natural antibiotic, home remedy for sore throats and a natural antihistamine for allergy relief for us!! What’s not to like? There are tips here on how to grow chamomile.
Other Companion Plants For Raspberries
Lots of gardening experts will recommend other companion plants for raspberries including :
These have all been grown traditionally to repel bugs from raspberries especially beetles but if you’re growing raspberries in a small space you don’t – believe me!! – have room for growing these.
I actually have tansy, yarrow and chervil seeds – purchased on a bored night mid-winter – still sitting in my shed and guess what? I have never planted them because when it came to it, I realised I didn’t have space.
And cramming them into the bed would actually deprive the raspberries of all that lovely fresh air they need circulating to dry out properly.
So a few pretty nasturtiums I’ll give you, but seriously don’t be me and go wasting your money on chervil, yarrow and tansy.
If you’re growing raspberries in a small space on a budget I would really recommend just a bed of dwarf peas, turnips, spinach, garlic, chives and chamomile as these are all super healthy crops you eat daily and that will actually save you money.
Plants To Avoid Near Raspberries
Finally, there are a few other plants you really should avoid planting very near raspberries as they are vulnerable to verticillium wilt which they can spread to raspberries and other soft fruit:
So there you go.
Absolutely everything you need to know about growing raspberries in a small space from cuttings by a casual gardener who actually does it.
I really do hope these raspberry growing tips help you enjoy a bumper harvest. Do bookmark or save them for quick reference later.
And for more easy gardening tips for beginners check out these other simple posts: