Raspberry plant propagation is gaining in popularity. After all, who doesn’t love the plump, juicy berry soon after strawberry harvest and just before blueberries are ripening? With a careful soil preparation and selection of virus free stock, propagating raspberries will keep you enjoying these edible brambles for years to come.
Raspberry Plant Propagation
Raspberries, whether red, yellow, purple or black, are susceptible to viruses. Resist the urge to propagate raspberries from an existing patch or your neighbor’s garden as these plants may be infected. It is always best to acquire stock from a reputable nursery. Raspberry propagations are available as transplants, suckers, tips, root cuttings, or tissue-cultured plants.
How to Propagate Raspberries
Raspberry propagations from nurseries arrive in culture vessels, in rooting cubes, or as year old dormant plants. The rooting cubes should be planted after danger of frost passes. They tend to be the most insect, fungus and nematode resistant raspberry propagators.
Year-old dormant raspberry propagators reach maturity earlier and tolerate drier soil. This type of raspberry plant propagation should be planted within a few days of purchase or “heeled in” by placing a single layer of the plants along a sheltered trench dug in well drained soil. Cover the roots of the raspberry propagation and tamp down. Let the raspberry plant acclimate for two to three days and then move into full sun within a five- to seven-day time frame.
Can You Grow a Raspberry Plant from Cuttings?
Yes, raspberry plants can be grown from cuttings. However, as mentioned above, it is preferable to purchase raspberry starts from a reputable nursery to avoid any contamination.
Red raspberry plant propagation comes from primocanes, or raspberry suckers, and may be transplanted in the spring when they are 5-8 inches (12-20 cm.) tall. The suckers come up from the roots and these root divisions can be cut through with a sharp spade and separated. The red raspberry sucker should have some of the parent plant’s roots to foster the most vigorous raspberry propagations. Keep the new raspberry propagation moist.
Black or purple raspberries and some blackberry varieties are propagated by “tip layering” wherein the tip of the cane is buried in 2-4 inches (5-10 cm.) of soil. The tip then forms its own root system. The following spring, the new raspberry propagation is then separated from the parent, leaving 6 inches (15 cm.) of the old cane attached. This portion is referred to as “the handle” and should be snipped off at soil level to reduce any potential disease from carrying over.
Final Note on Propagating Raspberries
When transplanting any of the above methods of raspberry propagations, be sure to plant in well draining soil with good air circulation and adequate moisture. Do not start your berry patch in a previously Verticillium wilt prone garden area such as where tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant or peppers have been grown.
This fungus stays in the soil for several years and can be devastating to your raspberry propagations. Keep black or purple raspberry propagations 300 feet (91 m.) from their red counterparts to reduce the risk of virus cross over. Follow these tips and you should be making raspberry jam for the next five to eight years.
How to Layer Raspberries in Propagation
Layering is a great way to start a new raspberry plant exactly like one you already have. Layering is similar to taking cuttings, except that you leave the stem attached to the original plant until it forms roots. This allows the young raspberry plant to continue receiving moisture and nutrients from its parent until it forms strong roots and can support itself. Raspberries are hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 9, with some variations depending on the species and cultivar.
Choose a healthy young cane that is free of disease and insect infestation for layering in fall.
Wound the stem 12 inches from the growth tip by cutting into the cane with a sharp knife or scraping off about an inch of the outer layer of tissue. Make cuts at an angle and don't cut deeper than half the diameter of the stem.
Pull the stem to the ground, taking note of the spot where the wound touches the soil. Dig a short, shallow trench no more than 3 inches deep where the wound will touch the ground.
Place the wounded part of the stem in the hole and cover it with soil. Place a stone on top of the soil. The stone should be just large enough to hold the stem in place. At least 6 inches of the stem tip should remain above ground. Water the layered area thoroughly.
Cut the stem that attaches the new plant to its parent plant the following spring. Dig up the new plant and transplant it to a permanent location.
Raspberry propagation is easy with these techniques
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Q uestion: I have a patch of red raspberries in my yard that my son has always loved. He’s going to be getting married and moving into his own home next year. I’d like to give him some of the raspberry plants. What’s the easiest way for me to do this?
Answer: There are a number of different ways you can propagate red raspberry canes to pass some along to your son. All of them are fairly easy.
The most common way to do the job would be to dig up and transplant the newly emerging shoots next spring. Though it’s difficult to dig out large existing canes, the new canes that poke out of the ground early in the spring are fairly easy to lift and pot up into a container filled with potting soil. The newly dug sprouts may wilt and look a little weak for a time, but as long as there’s a portion of the root system attached to them, eventually they’ll come around. Keep the pots of raspberry shoots well watered until your son can move them into his own garden later that summer. They’ll survive just fine in their containers for a few months if cared for properly.
Another option that yields more plants and less transplant shock is to propagate the raspberries through an easy process called layering. Layering is a technique in which new plants are grown from a mother raspberry cane while it’s still in the ground.
There are two ways you can layer raspberries. The first involves bending the tip of a cane down to the ground and pinning the tip against the soil, covering it with a mound of soil, or placing a brick or rock on top of it. Within a few weeks, the cane will develop roots where it meets the soil and create a new plant that can easily be cut off of the mother cane and dug up in the spring. The root system will be fibrous and easy to dig out. The flexibility of raspberry canes makes this process simple. In fact, raspberry canes often do this on their own naturally.
Another layering method that yields even more plants is one called serpentine or compound layering. For this method, the mother cane is repeatedly bent to touch the ground in multiple places along the cane. A cane layered in this way has a series of arches along it. Roots and new plants will form at the base of each arch. Before pinning the base of each arch against the ground, nick the bottom side of the cane with a sharp knife and dust it with rooting hormone (available online or at your local garden center). Then pin the base of each arch down or place a brick or stone on it. Within a few weeks you’ll have roots. Come spring, you can cut the cane at the top of each arch and dig up all of the newly developed cane sprouts. With this technique, you can get 5 to 7 new plants from a single raspberry cane.
Raspberries and other brambles are some of the easiest plants to propagate via layering because their stems are so flexible. You can also try it with forsythia, grapes, honeysuckles and clematis.
Horticulturist Jessica Walliser co-hosts “The Organic Gardeners” at 7 a.m. Sundays on KDKA Radio with Doug Oster. She is the author of several gardening books, including “Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden,” “Good Bug, Bad Bug,” and her newest title, “Container Gardening Complete.” Her website is jessicawalliser.com. Send your gardening or landscaping questions to [email protected] or The Good Earth, 622 Cabin Hill Drive, Greensburg, PA 15601.
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Thing To Avoid When Feeding Raspberries
Avoid Weed & Feed products and other herbicides when feeding or otherwise caring for raspberries. These plants are prone to chemical damage and can be easily harmed by products meant to target weeds and other unwanted plants. Pull out any competing weeds by hand or cover them (rather than using chemical means).
“Raspberries are particularly sensitive to herbicides and especially glyphosate (the active ingredient in formulas such as Roundup). Even using it elsewhere in the garden runs the risk of drift and damage – or death – to your berry canes.”Growing Berries and Fruit Trees in the Pacific Northwest: How to Grow Abundant, Organic Fruit in Your Backyard, by Tara Austen Weaver
More Plant Care Considerations When Feeding Raspberries
While you’re feeding raspberries in early spring, it can also be a good time for some other raspberry plant care. Early spring is a great time to prune raspberries, clear away any overwintered plant debris, and perform any maintenance on your raspberry trellis structure. Early spring is also a great time to shop for new raspberry plants, as the selection is best in the garden centers at this time of year. Here is a list of the best-tasting types of raspberries to plant in your yard!
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