Helen’s guide to growing raspberries


Helen Simpson, from the Mushroom Shed, tells you all you need to know about growing raspberries. She has also written articles about growing basil, brassicas, chilli, coriander, cucurbits, garlic, ginger & turmeric, mint, rhubarb, strawberries, tomatoes and lesser known herbs.

Additional material from Guy’s tips: how to prune raspberries

There are two types of raspberry:

  • ‘Summer bearing’, which fruit once a year, on 2nd year canes in summer.
  • ‘Everbearing’, which fruit twice a year, on 2nd year canes in summer, and on 1st year canes in autumn.

Now is a good time to be pruning your raspberries because, whichever type you have, it will have finished fruiting for the year. However, the two types should be pruned differently. If you haven’t yet worked out which type you have, prune them as though they are ‘summer bearers’.

For the ‘summer bearers’: cut all the canes that have fruited down to the ground (because they won’t fruit again). If you don’t know which canes have fruited, they are the longer and thicker ones, and they often have multiple lateral branches. Thin the others to 5-7 per plant, shorten them as desired, and tie the ends to your trellis.

For the ‘everbearers’: you can prune them like the ‘summer bearers’, in which case you will get two crops (in summer and autumn), neither of which will be prolific. Alternatively, you can sacrifice next summer’s crop for a better autumn crop by simply cutting all the canes down to the ground. Clearly, the second approach would not be good if your raspberries are, in fact, ‘summer bearers’ as it will result in no fruit next year! But it is (arguably) the best approach if you want raspberries in the autumn, and it is also the quickest.

I rather like the Wikihow raspberry pruning page.

raspberryThe intense flavour of a home-grown raspberry picked fresh from the bush encourages many people to plant raspberry canes.

The downside is the space and structure required to grow the canes and their maintenance. However the home-grown raspberry’s superior flavour compared to those bought in plastic-wrapped punnets from supermarkets makes it well worth the effort. Being able to feast on raspberries, rather than use them sparingly due to cost, is also a treat.

Getting started

Raspberries grow on canes, which are planted from late Autumn to Winter. The canes usually come bare rooted with little or no leaves and are about 20-30 cm tall when purchased. However they are also sold potted up early in Spring (for a higher price) when they have started to come out of their winter dormancy.

Raspberries are best grown in rows, with bunches of canes (about 3 canes per bunch) planted 30 cm apart, running north south to maximise sunlight. Strong trellis support about 1 metre high is required along the row to support the canes – usually three or so thick wires are run between posts. The canes are tied up the trellis as they grow, then trained across the wires.

When planting the canes, dig a trench along the row and fill with soil improved with plenty of compost and manure. The raspberry cane can be hilled in a mound on top of this to allow plenty of drainage. Mulch heavily with straw and avoid weed growth, as this can deter fruiting.

How many canes?

The answer to this question depends on how many raspberries you want to eat, combined with how much space you have. For a family backyard, try 6 to 12 canes initially, depending on space available. Around 20-30 canes may produce a surplus for jam and bottling.

Types of raspberries

Raspberries are divided into two types – summer bearers (which produce fruit in Summer) and everbearers (which produce fruit in both Summer and Autumn).


Canes are dormant in winter and usually bare. In Spring, canes grow vigorously. Some fruit may be produced on fruiting buds in the first year, depending on variety, but don’t expect a significant harvest until the following year.

With summer bearers, fruit is produced on what is called ‘second year cane’. This is a cane that has sprouted on the previous year’s cane. Once established, you will have a plant that has second year canes as well as first year canes. The first year canes come via new shoots from the ground and are easily recognised by its lush green growth. Each year after fruiting, cut any second year cane back to the ground, leaving the new first year cane ground shoots to produce their own second year canes for fruiting the following season.

With everbearers, fruit is produced on ‘first year cane’. These plants require less maintenance. Cut all of the plant back to the ground after fruiting each year. To produce more fruit, after a few months of rapid Spring growth, you can also prune plant growth slightly to encourage more fruiting laterals.

Some common varieties

Try Williamette for heavy cropping from December onwards or Chilcotin for a longer season of cropping from December. If you are going away over Summer, and don’t want to miss your harvest, Heritage crops from February onwards. Seekna is a very early cropping variety and has the advantage of being almost thornless.

Pests and diseases

Netting is the only good solution to deter birds, who love the ripe, red fruit too. Generally, backyard-grown raspberries are not prone to many diseases; however, to help deter any fungal diseases, keep mulch away from the base of the plant.

Protect from hot afternoon sun and hot, dry winds if possible, as this will dry out fruit.

  27 Responses to “Helen’s guide to growing raspberries”

  1. Helen,

    I have been hunting around for something on raspberries…and found heaps.

    Unfortunately, advice in one column seemed to be always countered by advice in the next column.

    Now, thanks to your column, I think I have the two-season raspberry you have written about. I bought clumps of raspberry shoots and planted them at beginning of August. They fruited in summer…and again up until May…

    I will now prune canes according to your instructions …to the ground for those canes (old and new) that have borne fruit …
    and connect this year’s unfruited small canes to the trellis! (I hope this is right. Please advise by email if not.)

    Thanking you in anticipation

    John Ball
    Riddells Creek

  2. My raspberries looked very healthy until November when the fruiting 2 year old canes started to curl up, go brown and die from the top down. They are nearly all infected now. The new growth is still ok.

  3. I’ve just seen this article. Very helpful. I am considering planting raspberries in large pots to contain them, and then net them as I have real issues with possums, birds and rodents eating everything I plant! Is this a good idea or will I just keep buying them from the greengrocer?! Any other thoughts?

    • Hi Barbara, you can certainly plant raspberries in large pots, however watch the root creep out the bottom of the pot if you don’t want it getting into other parts of your garden.

      Netting is also possible. The only disadvantage is the raspberry canes getting tangled in the netting, so keep the netting away from the cane growth.

      Regards, Helen

  4. Hello, I have raspberry canes which were severely attacked by a fluffy white insect sitting on the canes. I tried using pyrethrum for the last fruiting, with minimal success and am wondering what to use ahead of the next fruiting..which will be soon. i haven’t had success finding what insect this could be. The infestation looks like a fluffy white cover over the canes.

    • Hi Irene,

      it sounds like you have wooly aphids. There are a number of treatments to get rid of them – eg: neem oil or insecticidal soap. I’d recommend taking a photograph of them to your local nursery to confirm what they are and get advice on best treatment.

      Regards, Helen

  5. Super article! not sure if it is too late to ask a question???
    But my summer berries are blossoming now in Autumn? they are freshly planted (six months) and had a small amount of fruit in summer.

    • Some varieties of everbearing raspberries might well be fruiting at the moment.

      • Yes I just ate my one and only raspberry yesterday 18th May. Also had a nice handful in summer, after planting last spring.

  6. Thanks for this information.

    My autumn fruiting raspberry planted bare root have not shown new growth this spring although my summer fruiting do show new growth.

    I live in Melbourne. When do autumn fruiting raspberry normally show new growth?

  7. Hello and thank you for this.
    Could you please explain why the canes need to be planted by bunches of 3? My husband planted our first 20 bare root canes in 2 rows of 10 (each about 1 m apart) this winter but did not bunch them up. Will it work?
    Many thanks in anticipation.

    • Hi Florence,

      Yes, that will be fine. The only reason for bunching is to (arguably) make it easier to tie up the canes on the wires after the Winter pruning.

  8. Hello there. This is my 2nd year so do I cut all of them back now?

    • Hi Lucky,

      Raspberries fruit on two year old canes plus, for some types of raspberry, on one year old canes as well. So, cut back to the ground all those canes that are at the end of their second year and leave all those canes which are at the end of their first year.

  9. Thanks for the excellent explanation and information. Where in Melbourne, or Victoria can we find the raspberry types you’ve mentioned? And how to make our neutral soil acidic enough to grow good raspberries?



  10. Thx for your information. Great!

    Question! I’m a bit mixed about which cane is which. I can see new canes coming as shoots from the soil. Some of last year’s canes (un pruned) have new green growth showing. Some have none. I am unsure what to cut back and what to leave. They are summer fruiting canes. Can I cut tips off them to get laterals with more fruit?

    Lol I think I need A B C to follow.

    I’m learning heaps and wish I had your knowledge. Thanks so much.

    • As Helen says, summer fruiting raspberries fruit on second year canes only. So, a cane that has fruited will never fruit again and should be cut down to the ground. The laterals are irrelevant. If you don’t know which canes have fruited, they are the longer and thicker ones, and they often have multiple lateral branches.

      Leave 5-7 first year canes per plant, shortening them as desired. Tie the ends to your trellis. Next year, you will know which are the second year canes as they will be the ones tied to your trellis.

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