Now that spring is here we’re all itching to get ourselves into the garden and enjoy the smells, colors, and pollinators of the garden. And one of the plants you’re ready to try to grow is the sweet, tart, juicy delectable delicacy known as raspberries! But before you can enjoy them, you need to know when to plant them.
The best time to plant raspberries is when the ground soil temperature reaches 45-50℉, or 7.2-10℃. This will usually be in early spring in the northern states, or in late winter in the southern states. Nursery starters and seedlings can be planted immediately in spring, but seedlings need to be sown in mid-winter indoors.
Keep reading to learn more about the factors that affect when you can plant your raspberries, such as your zone, raspberry variety, and starter choice.
All of you reading this have doubtlessly at least heard about USDA hardiness zoning maps. All this map really tells you is the average temperature your winters reach and each zone has a 10℉ difference (or 5.5℃ )from the zones beneath and above it. For example, zone 6’s winter is usually 10℉ warmer than zone 5’s winter but 10℉ colder than zone 7’s winter.
The map is a little more complicated today, now separating each numbered zone into subzones such as 7a and 7b. These are separated by 5℉ (or 2.8℃).
The zone you live in is important because you’ll know how hardy a variety of raspberries you need in order to have perennial fruit, and it helps you determine your frost dates. These frost dates dictate your growing season and let you know when it’s safe to plant in the ground, and when it’s time to harvest.
In general, raspberries are nice and hardy from zones 3-9, so they’re perennial in these zones because they’ll survive the cold. If you live in zone 10, you can still grow raspberries successfully but you probably don’t have the ideal soil that raspberries like and reach high temperatures that kill raspberries. For this zone, consider growing raspberries in containers.
One of the most important things to know about the variety of raspberries you’ve chosen is whether it’s a floricane or primocane variety. Raspberries are known as caneberries because as they grow, the roots underground send out rhizomes that shoot up thin green shoots called “canes.” The first canes to emerge from the ground will be green and tender and are called primocanes. The varieties that produce fruit on these canes are known as primocane raspberries.
The following year, these primocanes will become woody, tougher, and dense and are known as floricanes. Many varieties of raspberries don’t produce fruit until these second-year canes show up, and are known as floricane raspberries.
This matters because the type you have determines when you need to get the raspberries in the ground. Primocane varieties need to be planted sometime between November and March, while floricane varieties need to be planted anywhere in early spring when the soil’s temperature is between 45-50℉ or 7.2-10℃.
When you shop for your raspberries, you might not hear “primocane,” or “floricane.” What you might hear instead is “summer-bearing,” and “fall-bearing.” Summer-bearing raspberries are always floricane varieties. They will bear their fruit from June-July and they will bear off of the over-wintered canes, the floricanes.
The fall-bearing raspberries are the primocane varieties. They are also called “everbearing,” raspberries because they will produce the bulk of their fruit on the floricanes during the summer and then again on the primocanes.
The other variable that determines how soon you have to start planting, is what you choose to grow your raspberries from: seed, bare-root, or nursery starter? The time of year you plant them in your garden doesn’t change, but when in the year you need to start getting them to grow and then transplant does.
If you are growing your raspberries from seed, you need to start growing them much sooner than the other options so that they germinate in time. Seeds need to be sown in plastic peat pots during the mid-winter in a dim, cool place inside your home, and kept moist with a spray bottle instead of a heavy stream from the faucet. Then, when the outside soil reaches between 45-50℉, it’s time to put your pot outside. In 4-6 weeks, the raspberries should start germinating and sprouting up. When they start developing leaves, transplant them into their permanent home.
It will take a while for your seeds to get where you want because, from early spring, the germination can take up to 6 weeks, and then they won’t produce fruit until at least 16 months after your initial planting. From seed, you can expect not to have fruit this year, but you can absolutely expect it the next.
Seedlings are fairly simple. They need to be planted in either late winter in the southern states of the U.S., or in early spring in the northern united states. They’re still not mature raspberries, so you won’t get your fruit this year, but there’s nothing wrong with enjoying the steady growth of your plant.
Nursery starters are usually bought when they are already a year old. They are the easiest to start with because all you have to do is wait for your soil to reach 45-50℉, buy a variety you like that the greenhouse offers, and plant. There’s no need to take the time to establish the plant, wait for it to germinate, and then wait another year for fruit.
Bare-root raspberry starters can be planted in early spring as well, but starting from bare-root will take a little bit longer than a nursery starter since you’re not starting with something that’s as mature. Bare roots are composed of dormant raspberry canes and healthy root systems. They’re faster than growing from seed and are at a lower risk of transplanting shock because of their dormancy. When you get bare roots, you can keep them wet by keeping the roots in some paper towel and spraying them with water. If they are completely dry when it’s time to plant, soak them for two hours in water before you plant.
Now that you know when to plant your raspberries, there are some basic care tips that all raspberries like that will promote steady growth throughout their growing season.
- Plant your raspberries in an area that gets full sun and plenty of airflow in the wind.
- Plant in a soil and compost mixture that drains well and is on the acidic side with a pH level that is between 6.0 – 6.8.
- After planting your raspberries, water them well.
- If you have a vine variety, install trellises to support the plants once they start bearing fruit.
- Apply mulch on the top of the soil to prevent water from evaporating, keep weeds from growing quickly, and insulate the roots during the winter.
You should now be equipped with all the information you absolutely need in order to know when in the year you should plant your raspberries, no matter which variety you chose or how you wanted to start it. Now you can just get to the fun part. I bet you can already taste them!