By: Teo Spengler
Ruby-red raspberries are one of the jewels of the summer garden. Even gardeners with limited space can enjoy a berry harvest by growing raspberries in containers. Growing raspberries in containers is no more work than planting them in the ground, and containers can be placed anywhere on sunny patios. If you are interested in container gardening with raspberries, read on.
Growing raspberries in containers is a great option for those with poor garden soil, shady backyards, or very little garden space. The great thing about container gardening with raspberries is that you can place the pots in any sunny corner without worrying about the soil.
What kinds of raspberries grow well in containers? In theory, any berry bush you can plant in the backyard can grow in a container. However, shorter, more compact plants that stand upright without support are easier to work with.
If you want ease, look for raspberry plants at your local garden store marked “ideal for containers.” If you don’t care about putting in extra effort, select any cultivar that catches your eye.
You can grow both summer-fruiting berry bushes and fall-fruiting varieties in pots. The former ripen in June through August and require support, the latter between August and October and grow upright.
When you start growing raspberries in containers, you want to select a container at least 24 inches (61 cm.) in diameter. If the container isn’t big enough, the plants are not likely to flourish. In addition, their cold hardiness diminishes and the plants might be killed by cool weather that wouldn’t impact canes planted in bigger pots.
Learning how to plant raspberries in pots is not difficult. Fill your pot with a soil-based compost to stabilize the plant. The “John Innes No. 3” mix works well for this. Then position six canes around the container, pressing the compost around them. Water them in well.
The most important part of raspberry container care is regular irrigation. You need to make sure that the soil/compost mixture doesn’t ever get bone dry.
Raspberry container care also includes feeding your plants. Dose them with a high potash fertilizer according to label directions. This will encourage abundant fruit to grow.
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Read more about Raspberries
There are two types of raspberries. Summer-fruiting raspberries, which ripen in early summer, tend to be more popular among home gardeners than the autumn-fruiting varieties, which ripen from late August to October. Both types are suitable for container gardening. Cultivars such as "Boyne" and "New Washington" can be grown in Mediterranean climates, such as U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 8 and 9.
Plant a single raspberry cane in a container that is 15 inches in diameter, and at least 24 inches deep. Raspberry plants require well-drained soil, so set the container in place on bricks or blocks of wood to increase drainage. In addition, punch or drill extra holes in the bottom of the pot if necessary to ensure the plant has adequate drainage.
Raspberries are vigorous growers and will produce runners that fill up a bed. Choose a spot in full sun (where the plant will get at least six hours of direct sunlight per day) and well-drained soil dig in some compost to give them a jump-start. You can buy raspberries bare-root in the spring or as container-grown plants for spring, summer, or autumn planting. Regardless, plant the canes (branches) 20 inches apart and rows 5 feet apart. The canes will fill in all the available spaces, and all you need to do is dig up those that venture out into the path. Raspberry plants are hardy in USDA Zones 3-9, so once they're established, you don't have to worry about replanting them each year.
Properly cared for, raspberries can live 20 years or more, so you'll want to give them the best soil you can when preparing the raspberry planter box. Use a high-quality potting soil or amend garden soil with compost, manure and sand to improve drainage. Perlite or vermiculite added to the soil holds moisture. Add lime of your soil is acidic because raspberries prefer a neutral pH of around 6.0. Neutralize highly alkaline soils with aluminum sulfate.
The Old Farmer's Almanac says that pruning raspberries is important. Raspberries grow on canes. The first year a cane is produced, and it produces fruit its second year. To keep air flow in your raspberry raised bed. and keep the old canes from taking up space, prune back the second-year canes after you're done picking. It is helpful to know whether you have summer-bearing or fall-bearing raspberries, but if you don't know, just remove the old canes after they are done bearing fruit and or in later winter before they start to grow new canes again.
To freeze raspberries lay them out one a shallow tray (in one layer only) and let them freeze. If you are lucky enough to have lots then bag up the frozen raspberries, place them back in the freezer and start freezing the next batch in the same way.
Bagged up, they will keep in the freezer for at least three months. When you defrost raspberries they will never have the texture of fresh raspberries but that's not a problem if you want to use them in cakes, sauces or drinks.
One tip for making frozen raspberries look good is to remove them from the freezer only a few minutes before you need them. They will stay in shape for a couple of hours and initially will have a delightful sugar-frosted look - see the picture of the Chocolate and raspberry cheesecake below.
Good recipes for raspberries (frozen and unfrozen) can be found at the following links: