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Raspberry Canes (Bareroot) - Planting and Care Guide

Raspberry Canes Planting and Care

The most important aspect of planting new bareroot raspberry canes anywhere is to make sure that you plant the canes in fresh ground that has never grown raspberries or any other Rubus plants.  The previous Rubus plants leave a dormant virus in the soil that becomes active as soon as fresh plants are put in the ground.  This virus can lie dormant for up to 30 years and it is very important that fresh ground is found to plant fresh stock.  Failure to adhere to this planting advice when planting in raspberry canes will negate our guarantee

Raspberries should be grown in a somewhat sheltered spot – they grow best in full sun but will tolerate partial shade.  Make sure that the soil they are being planted in is not too heavy – as soil that holds a lot of water is no use as raspberries will die very quickly with their roots standing in wet, airless earth.  IF planting in clay soil, it is recommended to plant in a raised bed by forming a ridge. This is done by digging a trench about 40cm wide and 15cm deep.  The bottom of the trench should be lined with fresh compost. 


Raspberry canes should be planted in rows about 45cm apart and in rows of about 2metres apart.  Each cane should be taken in turn and spread out the roots evenly – the old soil mark may be visible to use as a mark.  If not make sure that the canes are planted, no deeper than 10cm (4 inches) – optimum depth would be 7.5cm (3 inches).  Replace the soil gently by healing it back in and it would be a good idea to apply a general purpose fertiliser such as rootgrow (mycorrhizal fungi) applied in the planting hole this time – this way the canes would be able to get the best start.

Summer fruiting varieties will need to be supported, and the best method is to use the post and wire system, where the canes are tied to the wires with soft twine.  The posts should be 3 metres (10ft) apart, and it is best to user 8ft tall, 3in x 3in posts.  The end posts must be fixed securely in the ground – bury them at least 61cm (2ft) in the ground and support with an angled strut.  The three wire supports should be placed at 76cm(2.5ft), 1m~(3.5ft) and 1.6m(5.5ft) from ground level.

Proper moisture is critical to the survival of raspberry canes especially new ones.  The roots should never dry out completely, nor should they be waterlogged.  The best way to test or check soil  moisture is to use your finger.  Dig down about 2-4 inches just outside the root mass of the cane and water if the soil feels dry.  Newly planted canes should be checked and watered every other day for the first two weeks.  After the first two weeks limit watering to once a week if less than 1 inch of rain falls during the week.  Thorough soakings that moisten the soil to the entire depth of the root mass are better than frequent light watering.  


Newly planted raspberries:  Cut down the old cane to the near ground level when the new growth appears in Spring

Established summer fruiting varieties: When picking is over, cut down all the cane that have fruited to near ground level and retain the best 6-9 young unfruited canes and tie to wires 7.5-10cm (3-4in) apart

Established autumn fruiting (primocane) varieties:  Cut down all cane to the ground level in February.  When the new canes grow in the spring/summer, tie them to the wires with soft twine.

Continuing Care

Ii is vitally important, especially during the first year, when the canes are establishing themselves, the raspberry canes have plenty of water.  This is especially important during the dry periods.  Regular watering will be necessary, and it is particularly important to keep the soil damp when the fruit is swelling.  Regular hoeing is important to keep weeds down – but make sure that the hoe does not go too deep and avoid damaging the roots.  Suckers need to be removed in summer, and stems growing away from the main row should be pulled out.

Fertilising or feeding the canes are important as well.  Water in a general purpose fertiliser, i.e. Growmore (after the first year) to the rows in March.  Once this is done, apply a mulch, i.e. compost, to help keep the soil cool and moist as well as keep down the weeds.

Do’s and Don’ts


  • Plant in free draining soil or on a ridge if your soil is heavy
  • Water well  during dry periods and after planting


  • DO NOT soak the roots of the raspberry canes in water when you receive them or before planting as this is the worst thing people can do to canes.  It is a very common practice but we state to specifically not to do this as reapberry roots are highly sensitive and need access to oxygen to breathe.  Denying them this by soaking in water for any longer than 10 minutes can kill them stone dead!
  • Do Not plant in soils that have grown raspberries or Rubus plants before - another common mistake.  Old used areas where raspberry canes have been planted before will leave microscopic zoospores in the soil that can lie dormant for decades an only become active again when plants of the rubusd genus go back into the same patch of ground.  These spores will then attack the new crop and usually kill them within 6 weeks of planting.  If there is no other place to plant canes, then remove the soil to approximately 1.5 spade depth and replace the material - but we will not gurantee that the ground is clear of spores.
  • Do Not plant in heavy wet soils, especially clay as it is the worst for raspberries as the soil tends to hold water and it is also a sticky substance which cling to the roots - all bad news for raspberry canes.  If you have clay soil, then create a raised bed by mixing in grit and loamy soil with the clay soil.
  • Type of soil must be free draining so the raspberry canes will be able to get enough oxygen as well as not sitting in water!
  • Do Not plant too deep – a maximum of 4 inches is acceptable – recommended is 3 inches


Raspberries are very different from other fruit plants and require extra care and patience when first planted.  One of the most common mistakes is to assume that the old cane that is planted in the ground should produce shoots/ leaves which sometimes do appear but they are fruiting laterals and should be removed when they appear as they will hinder the overall establishment of the cane.  The old cane that you have planted is gradually dying as it produces its fresh shoots underground, and therefore is no guarantee indicator of life.  The fresh growth to look for in raspberry canes comes up through the soil from the base of the old cane – please note that newly planted raspberry canes can take well into June to produce.