Growing Everbearing and Summer-Bearing Raspberries in Containers and Pots
Growing raspberries in containers have many benefits for the backyard gardener - raspberries taste great and are also very decorative plants, especially when varieties with different colors of fully ripe berries are chosen.
The best choice for container gardening are smaller and sturdier everbearing raspberry variants, but summer-bearing raspberries will also do fine.
Updated: December 12, 2022.
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Intro to Growing the Raspberries in Containers
Growing raspberries and other plants in containers and pots have many benefits, including:
- it is easier to adjust the soil type and optimize it for the plant that is actually grown in a container or a pot,
- plants with containers can be moved around as required or needed,
- growing raspberries in containers prevent them from spreading around the garden, etc.
One of the drawbacks is that raspberries require more or less constant moisture in the soil to grow properly developed and healthy fruit - You can't simply leave them for days without watering during summer heat and expect them to grow and bear fruits.
Raspberries that are grown in the garden soil patch also must be regularly watered, but they are less susceptible to drought than raspberries grown in containers.
Note: What's the difference between containers and pots? Well, generally speaking, containers are rectangular, while pots are round-shaped. Very often, we use both terms interchangeably.
Preparing the Soil in Containers
Soil for raspberries must be slightly acidic (pH 6.0 - 6.2), must retain water and nutrients well, but also must have good drainage.
Depending on the raspberry variety and desired number of plants, 16-inch (40 cm) round pots are large enough for a single plant. Larger pots, 50-60cm (20-24 inches) or even larger, are suitable for several plants.
Personally, raspberries are very invasive berries, so go for at least a 20-inch (50 cm) wide and deep pot (or container) for a single plant and 24-25-inch (~60 cm) pot for 2 plants - larger pots and containers can also be used, but they are harder to move around unless placed on the trollies with wheels before filling with the soil.
Start filling the container with 2-5cm (1-2 inches) of gravel that will help with the drainage - be sure that the container has enough drainage holes.
Fill the rest of the pot with a mixture of good potting soil, aged manure, worm castings and/or humus/compost. Also, add some balanced NPK fertilizer (for example,e 10-10-10), preferably with a gradual release of nutrients. If you don't have aged manure, add fresh one to the mix, cover the pot and let it settle for a month - don't let the rain wash away nutrients from the soil mix.
There are other possible combinations based on available raw materials - peat moss, perlite, and similar. If you have relatively heavy soil and plan on using it for a soil mix, add some sand, perlite, aged manure, peat moss, and similar materials to increase water and nutrient retention, with good drainage of excess water.
Adding expanded clay aggregate pebbles can increase water retention but also aeration of the soil - as water evaporates from expanded clay aggregate pebbles or as it is absorbed by plants, fresh air enters the soil and pebbles themselves.
On the other hand, hydrogel (water) beads, pearls, and powders absorb water and change volume without forcing fresh air in and old air out of the soil - if "right" conditions are met, such conditions can lead to growing problems, including root rot and various diseases since raspberries don't like "wet feet."
Note: raspberries are heavy feeders, but try to avoid overfeeding them with nitrogen - plants will grow quickly and tall, but they would be weak and prone to various diseases.
Planting and Caring For Raspberries in Containers
Raspberry plants should be purchased from reputable nurseries as dormant bare-root or as potted, virus-free plants. If you are a novice gardener and you don't need many raspberry plants, go for potted raspberry plants.
Also, when purchasing raspberry plants, always go for varieties that are successfully grown in your area.
Container Positioning: Sun and Temperature
Containers and pots with raspberries should be placed in positions with full sun. Raspberries tolerate low temperatures, but frost should be avoided, just like high temperatures.
Note that some newer varieties also tolerate higher temperatures and can be successfully grown in warmer areas. If You don't have such varieties, try to place your raspberries in partial shade during the summer's strongest sunlight - this is not an ideal situation, but ...
Planting the Raspberries
When the soil in the container is ready, dig a hole large enough to accommodate the young plant's roots. Cover the roots with the soil, press the soil, and water thoroughly with stale rainwater.
Ordinary water will do fine, of course, just try not to water with cold water. If the setting of the soil occurs, add more soil and mulch in the form of wood chips, sawdust, straw, and similar.
Mulch protects the soil from heat and wind, keeping the moisture in. Also, it helps against weeds even in the containers. However, mulch also must not prevent young shoots from growing, so it should not be too thick and too heavy.
Another benefit of mulching is that organic mulch slowly decomposes, feeding the plants and keeping the soil slightly acidic.
If support is required, add it right away since pressing the poles in the soil at a later time can damage the roots and new shoots.
Tomato support cages can be used to support raspberries, too, just be sure to place them on time.
Smaller and sturdier varieties of raspberries don't require support, but sudden gusts of winds can damage the plants - supporting even sturdier varieties in windy areas is highly recommended.
Watering the Containers
Watering plants in containers is very important - if possible, use a dripping system that will keep the moisture level on almost constant level.
If not, water manually 2-3 times per week, depending on the size/volume of the container, the size and number of raspberry plants in the container, and the temperature. During the summer heat, water daily with stale water.
On average, raspberries need 1-2 inches of water per week, however, this can be increased during warm days for plants growing in relatively small containers - that is an additional reason to include some sort of dripping watering system when growing raspberries.
Fertilizing the Plants
As said before, young raspberries should be planted in slightly acidic soil rich in organic matter, with added aged manure, compost/humus, and balanced NPK fertilizer.
In a similar manner, in late winter, add some aged manure, compost/humus, and balanced NPK fertilizer to fruit-bearing plants. As plants grow, add nutrients in the form of liquid fertilizer once or twice per month.
If you have NPK fertilizer with a gradual release of nutrients and it is combined with aged manure and humus/compost or worm castings, refeeding is not required for the next 2-3 months.
Proper amounts of nutrients and water are very important for everbearing raspberries. Harvest of common raspberry varieties can last 2-3 weeks at most, and this can be prolonged by growing several different types of raspberries.
However, everbearing raspberries produce berries in the spring and again in the autumn. Mixing everbearing and ordinary raspberries in the garden is the best way to have fresh, great-tasting raspberries from your own garden for months, almost constantly.
Pruning depends on the raspberry variety since the pruning of everbearing raspberries and summer-bearing raspberries differ slightly.
Summer-bearing raspberries grow berries on the second-year (brown) canes that should be pruned to the soil line right after the harvest. New green canes (Primocanes) will bear fruit next year and should be trimmed in the autumn to the height of 4-5 feet.
In late winter/early spring, remove anything weak, ill, or damaged. Also, remove redundant canes.
Everbearing raspberries grow berries on both second-year and one-year canes. So, late in the autumn, after the second harvest is over, prune brown, second-year canes fruits down to the soil level and first-year (primocanes) to 4-5 feet in height.
Just like for summer-bearing raspberries, in late winter/early spring, remove anything weak, ill, or damaged. Also, remove redundant canes.
Raspberries in the containers can grow as very thick bushes, so keep the number of canes at a moderate level. Letting the sun and air into the bush decreases the danger of various diseases.
Common Everbearing Raspberry Varieties
When obtaining raspberries, the best option is to get certified virus-free, one-year-old plants. However, those who have time and patience can grow desired varieties from the seeds. Seeds can be purchased locally or from online shops. The most popular everbearing raspberry varieties are:
- Heritage - medium-sized fruits, self-supporting plants,
- Sweet Repeat - large, sweet, red berries, not many thorns (not thornless!), tolerates high temperatures,
- Autumn Britten - large and sweet berries, high yields, very adaptable plants,
- Anne - golden, sweet raspberries lacking the tartness of some red raspberries,
- Golden Fall (Fall Gold) - yellow, sweet berry, moderate crops,
- Jaclyn - large, juicy berries, very resistant to wind and rain, requires support due to heavy yields,
- September - tart and juicy, medium-sized berries,
- Caroline Red - ripens early, resistant to root rot, large berries,
- Redwing - large and sweet berries, moderate crops, self-supporting plants.
Everbearing raspberries are hardy and prolific plants, bearing fruits even in cold, wet weather.
However, to avoid losses of berries due to early autumn frost, plants and berries must be protected by some sort of cover (thin nylon, for example).
Also, letting the dormant raspberry plants spend late winter indoors makes them start to grow earlier in the spring - don't leave them overnight outside too early in the spring since late spring frost can cause some serious damage to the plants.
Growing Raspberries from Seeds
Raspberry seeds are very small, so handle them with care.
Depending on the number of desired plants, fill the suitable tray with low-nutrient, sterile, seed-starting potting soil, press it firmly, and water it with stale water. Space raspberry seeds an inch apart (2.5 cm), cover with a thin layer of the same potting soil or fine sand, and water again using a spray bottle and stale water.
The best time for sowing the seeds is during winter - even if you buy stratified seeds, they need some time to get going.
Cover the tray with transparent plastic or nylon and keep the soil moist. Place the tray near the window facing north in the cool room.
When outside daily temperatures reach 60°F (15°C), place the tray outside in the partial shade. Sometimes it takes 4-6 weeks for raspberries to germinate.
Be sure to keep the soil always lightly moist.
When plants develop the first pair of mature leaves, transplant individual seedlings into 4-6 inch (10-15 cm) pots filled with good potting soil. In the beginning, keep them in partial shade and water regularly.
One-year-old raspberries grown from the seeds can be planted in permanent locations just as one-year-old raspberries purchased in garden centers.
For more about this topic, feel free to check our How To Grow Raspberries From Seeds article.
Note: it is normal for some home gardeners to choose the best raspberries from the market, let them over-ripen for a few days at home, remove and dry the seeds, place the seeds into the refrigerator for a month, and then sow such seeds - results can be surprisingly good with few disappointments here and there :)
Common Growing Problems: Pests and Diseases
Raspberries don't have many growing issues.
If they are grown in well-aerated soil with good drainage, root rot will not occur. Regular watering and plenty of nutrients support strong feeders like raspberries.
When buying plants, plants must be healthy and virus-free. When sowing the seeds, be sure to use good, preferably sterile, potting soil.
Raspberries prefer sunny locations but will, up to a point, tolerate semi-shade positions, depending on climate and varieties. Since they are in the pots, move them if required.
Prune bushes from excess canes and let the sunshine and air in the bush - this way, leaves, flowers, and berries dry quickly and are more resistant to various diseases.
Some varieties tolerate wind, but winds can break shoots and canes, reducing the yield - grow raspberries protected from strong winds and strong rainfalls.
When berries start to ripen, birds can be a problem - if required, add some sort of protective nets to prevent pests from feeding on ripe raspberries.
Additional pests that can cause issues are aphids, cane borers, fruitworm, raspberry beetles, etc.
Typical diseases include cane and spur blight, leaf curl virus, gray mold, etc.
Note: strong and healthy raspberry plants can tolerate some pests with no problems, while the well-aerated plants grown in a sunny position are very resilient to various diseases...
Harvesting the Raspberries
Harvesting the raspberries in the home garden should be done when the berries are fully ripe. Unlike industrial production, the goal is to prolong the harvesting season, and that is done by choosing the right varieties.
Raspberries are picked every second or third day from the same plant, and with enough plants and varieties, the raspberry season can last for months, and they can be harvested on a daily basis and consumed fresh or processed into jellies and juices or prepared as part of pies and cakes, or they can be frozen for later use.