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How to grow raspberries and the best varieties

Raspberries
A guide to growing raspberries Credit: Alamy

Easy to grow and heavy cropping, raspberries quickly pay for themselves and will crop for 10 years. From November, canes are available bare-rooted, usually in bundles of five or 10. Order certified virus-free plants early and, ideally, plant before the worst of the weather.

  • Raspberries do best in full sun, but will tolerate a little shade. They grow in most soils, but struggle on very dry or wet soils.
  •  Incorporate plenty of rotted manure or garden compost before planting. Transplants have a short length of horizontal rhizome that is planted parallel to the soil surface 2in (5cm) deep.
  •  On planting, cut back canes to 10in (25cm). Space plants 18-24in (45-60cm) apart in rows 6ft (1.8m) apart.
  • Where space is limited, grow a plant up a single post or even in a container.
  • Label the row to remember what type you are growing and make pruning easier.
  • Autumn raspberries can be grown without support, but summer raspberries need to be tied in to posts and wire (see rhs.org.uk for details).
  • Raspberries are heavy feeders. In March, apply general purpose fertiliser, such as Growmore, or fish, blood and bone at 1oz per sq yd (34g per sq m) and mulch plants with 4in (10cm) of rotted manure or garden compost. In dry spells, water thoroughly every week.
  • Pruning often confuses gardeners. For summer-fruiting raspberries cut out the fruited canes at ground level immediately as they finish cropping. Select the strongest new canes, tying them in every 6in (15cm) to wires. For autumn-fruiting varieties, cut all growth to ground level in February, thinning new canes to 4in (10cm) apart in spring.
  • Occasionally go along the edge of rows with a sharp spade inserted to full depth to sever suckers growing out from the row.
  • Water well in dry spells. To deter the maggots of raspberry beetle, spray fruit with pyrethrum as they turn pink

Summer fruiting varieties (mid-June to mid-August)

  • 'Malling Minerva’: early; medium-to-large, well-flavoured fruit; spine-free canes on compact plants.
  • 'Malling Jewel’ AGM: early-mid; established variety that still performs well. Relatively compact plants.
  • 'Glen Ample’ AGM: mid; heavy crops, large fruit with excellent flavour, spine-free canes.
  • 'Glen Coe’: mid-late; unusual dark purple fruit of good flavour. Where space is limited, grow one plant up a post.
  • 'Tulameen’ AGM: mid-late; sweet, large fruit.
  • 'Glen Magna’ AGM: late; high yields with good flavour.
  • 'Octavia’: very late; large fruit of good flavour on strong-growing plants.

Autumn fruiting varieties (August-October)

  • 'Autumn Bliss’ is the classic variety.
  • 'Joan J’ AGM: high yields, well-flavoured berries.
  • 'Polka’ AGM: large fruit with good flavour.