How to Tell if Your Raspberry Bush is Dying (And How to Save It)

A raspberry bush should be a thriving part of your garden, producing delicious fruit. So, when your plant starts dying it can be quite distressing. But why might the bush start dying, and is there anything you can do to revive it?

There are a few things that might be causing a raspberry bush to die. Sometimes, the fault will lie in the environment you are growing the bush in. For example, it might not be getting the right amount of sunlight or water. At other times, the issue will lie with an attack from diseases or pests. Sometimes, the bush will simply be dying of old age. 

Just because your raspberry bush is showing signs of distress doesn’t mean that you have to let it die. Keep reading to learn some of the ways you can bring it back to life.

Signs a Raspberry Bush is Dying

There are a few signs that your raspberry bush isn’t in good condition. The warning signs to look out for include: 

  • Wilting 
  • Red or yellow leaves
  • Curling on the leaves
  • Crumbling fruit
  • Signs of destructive insects

The clearest sign of a dying plant is a rise in the number of dead growths. This will appear as white or grey. When you cut into it, the stem will be brown.  On the other hand, the thriving cane will be white and moist. 

Once you notice the signs that a raspberry bush is in trouble, you need to take action. The best thing is to try and identify what is causing the problem. This will allow you to find the solution. Let’s look at some ways to solve common issues.  

Environmental Problems

In many cases, your plant might be affected by adverse conditions in the soil. There are a few potential issues you can be facing, including: 

  • Incorrect watering schedule. If you don’t give your bush enough water, it won’t be able to absorb the nutrients from the soil. But if you give it too much, there is a chance that it will lead to root rot. This can kill the plant. Plus, the excess moisture will create a prime environment for mold to grow. The best way to check the amount of water in the soil is by sticking your finger a few inches into the soil. It should be moist, but not too damp. 
  • pH Level. If the pH level isn’t right, your raspberry bush will struggle to absorb nutrients. Most raspberries will prefer slightly acidic soil. It should be between 5 to 6. If your soil is too acidic you can raise the pH with lime. If it is too alkaline, you can lower the pH by adding more manure or mulch. 
  • Amount of sunlight. When you are planting raspberries, you need to make sure that they are getting plenty of sunlight. They need between six to seven hours each day. If it is in a pot, you can move the raspberry to a sunnier area. At other times you will need to trim back the surrounding plants, so the raspberries can get more sunlight. 
  • Nutrient levels. For your raspberries to thrive, they need to be getting the right mix of nutrients. Usually, you will need to use a balanced fertilizer, giving four to five pounds of nitrogen per 100 square feet. 

Usually, environmental problems will play a contributory role in your plant’s downfall. The good news is that small changes to the soil can help revive your plants. 


One of the most serious issues that you will face is diseases getting into your raspberry bush. There is a range of diseases that might impact a raspberry bush. Some of the most common include: 

  • Cane Blight. This looks like dark blue or purple spots, which appear on the raspberry canes. Sometimes, this will be accompanied by minuscule black spores, which allow the disease to spread. 
  • Verticillium Wilt. This causes the leaves to start to turn yellow and begin to wilt. This starts at the base of the plant, though it will quickly infect all the leaves. 
  • Spur Blight. At first, this can appear similar to Verticillium Wilt. The leaves will turn yellow, wilt, and fall off the plant. This starts at the base of the plant and quickly moves its way up. But spur blight will leave the stems on the leaves. Also, the top of the canes might be impacted. 
  • Rust. This will often manifest on the underside of the leaf. It will appear as a yellow or orange spot. Sometimes, these marks can even appear on the fruit. 

The type of disease will determine how you approach it. For example, if spotted early, blights can be controlled by pruning back the affected areas. This might be enough to stop the fungus from spreading and infecting the rest of the plant. 

On the other hand, some types of disease, like Verticillium Wilt, will be highly aggressive. Because of this, you will need to remove the whole bush. This will stop it from spreading to everything else in your garden. 

Stems Are Too Old

The canes will die after they have produced fruit. In the summer-bearing varieties, the fruit will be produced in the second-year canes. On ever-bearing types, it will be produced on both first and second-year canes. 

Thankfully, this problem is fairly easy to solve. You will need to cut back the old canes after the second year. This will allow new growth to occur and will allow you to produce new fruit. Once you have pruned back the old growth, you will need to take it out of the garden. This makes it harder for diseases to spread. 


Similar to diseases, if you can identify the cause of the pest problem early, you will be able to address it effectively. But if you allow it to spread, it can become a major problem. There are a few types of pests that will affect your raspberry bush. These are: 

  • Aphids. These are tiny creatures that will suck the sap out of any emerging growth. Sometimes, you will be able to spot the aphid at work. If not, you should be able to see the ants which come to the stream of honeycomb the aphids are producing. 
  • Cane borer.  Often, this pest will attack when the first growth is starting to wilt. You should look for brown rings on the cane. 

Often, treating a pest problem on a raspberry bush will be fairly easy. You just need to take off any infected growth. Burn any infected branches. This ensures that the bugs don’t have a chance to spread and infect everything else in your garden. 

Old Age

If none of these issues fit, you might need to consider the possibility that your plant is dying due to old age. In many cases, a raspberry plant will live for around 20 years. At this age, there is little you can do to bring the plant back to life. 

The best solution is to take some cuttings from the living stems of your raspberry bush. Alternatively, you can take root cutting. You’ll be able to put these into a new pot and grow a new plant. 

Final Thoughts

There are many reasons why your raspberry plant might start to look like it’s dying. Sometimes, it might be old growth dying after flowering at other times it will be too much water. The key is being able to spot the problem quickly. From there you will be able to come up with the ideal solution. This can help minimize the damage and get your raspberry bush back on track. 


I enjoy all things outdoors and I love plants! I've never considered myself to be one with a green thumb, but it's my mission to learn, so I figured I would bring you along for the ride. :) Happy planting!

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