Raspberry Growing Guide

Long raspberry cane with many raspberries hanging from it ranging from black to red in color. Cane has some green leaves on it and there are several other plants in the background.

Photo By: 'Local Food Initiative'

Growing Raspberries In Northern Michigan

Unlike our native blueberries, raspberries are not as well suited for our climate here in Northern Michigan. Our harsh winters combined with humid, moist summers can limit the amount of fruit a single plant can produce. 

Fortunately, there are a few varieties that have been bred to perform well despite Northern Michigan’s weather trends. If you plant a hardy raspberry variety and combine that with the proper soil amendments and care, you’ll be rewarded with a highly fruitful plant that will provide abundant harvests for years to come.

You’ll Need A Few Things To Get Started:

  • Organic garden soil
  • Granular fertilizer
  • High quality compost or manure
  • Trellis (not mandatory, but very helpful in preventing broken canes)

What Is A Raspberry Cane?

Raspberries are a unique berry fruit because they grow on canes, versus growing on established stems and limbs from the previous years. A cane is simply a fresh shoot that is sent up from either the root of the plant, or from a previous years’ growth. 

First year canes that are sent up directly from the root of the plant are called primocanes, while second year canes that are sent up from the previous years’ growth are called floricanes. Both of these canes are capable of producing fruit. 

Canes can be fragile, which is why trellising raspberry plants is highly encouraged. A cane can be broken under the weight of fruit, animal interaction, or wind. Once a cane is broken, that part of the plant will die and no further fruit can be produced. Trellising raspberry canes keeps them supported and up off the ground, making them less susceptible to breaking.

Selecting A Site For Your Raspberry Plants

Raspberries prefer well draining, loamy soil. Loamy soil is considered to have an equal balance of sand, clay, and silt. In Northern Michigan, we tend to have more sandy soil. Amending sandy soil with a bag of organic garden soil can help balance this out. 

Raspberry bushes will grow best in full sun, meaning 6-8 hours per day of direct sunlight. Raspberry roots can be fragile, and it is important that they are kept out of standing water. A soil pH of 5.5 to 6.5 is the preferred range for these plants.

Raspberries can also be successfully grown in containers. Read our complete guide on growing raspberries in containers for more information!

White flowers on a mature raspberry plant with green foliage in the background.

Photo by: Dawn Pedersen

Step-By-Step Instructions For Planting Raspberries

  1. Set your plants in trenches that are large enough you can spread the roots out on either side of the cane. Set the crown of the plant (usually visualized by a dark brown line on the cane) approximately 1” below the soil level.

  2. Space plants 18”-24” apart so they have room to grow. The trellis should be placed directly behind the bush. 

  3. Fertilize the soil 1 month after planting, and every 4-6 weeks throughout the summer. Do not fertilize in the fall.

  4. Cut all canes back after the first frost, new brambles will shoot up from the root ball in the spring.

  5. New plants need lots of water! Make sure the soil is well draining, but water daily until the raspberry plant is well-established.

How To Care For Raspberry Plants

Water is one of the primary factors of success when it comes to growing raspberries. New plants especially will need consistent moisture. Daily watering is necessary, especially in the warmer summer months. If you are using drip irrigation, make sure the roots do not sit in standing water.

Fertilizing with an organic, granular fertilizer is highly recommended for a better fruit yield. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of fertilizer on the soil surface in a 1 foot radius around the plant. Do not fertilize immediately after planting, wait at least 4 months for the roots to establish before the first application of fertilizer.

Cane Diseases On Raspberry Plants

Raspberry canes can be susceptible to disease. Fungi, such as anthracnose and spur blight, can cause immense damage to raspberry canes and are easily spread from plant to plant. We do not live in an area that has significant issues with cane disease. 

Fungi will present in the form of cankers, or sores, on the cane. These cankers are usually purple or brown in color, and can even have a fuzzy appearance to them. Sudden death on fruit bearing canes can also be indicative of a fungi infection.

If you notice these issues on your raspberry plants, not all is lost! Lime sulfur is a helpful ingredient in treating fungi. Apply lime sulfur in early spring. It is important not to apply it once the plant’s green stem has reached a length greater than ¼”. Do not plant additional raspberry plants to an area that is infected until the infection is eliminated.

Harvesting Your Raspberries

Now for the fun part! Raspberries will be ready for harvest at different times depending on their varieties. In Northern Michigan, we typically harvest the earliest raspberries in mid-summer, with some producing fruit late into the fall.

You will know a raspberry is ready for harvest when you can easily pull it from the stem. To test this out, gently tug a raspberry without squeezing the fruit. If the center of the fruit pulls easily away from the fleshy part, then it is ready for harvest! Look for berries that are rich in color and have reached full size before you attempt to harvest.

Numerous pints of red raspberries and black raspberries in teal containers set up in repeating rows.

Photo By: Scott 97006

Where To Buy Raspberry Plants That Thrive In Northern Michigan

Starting with healthy and strong raspberry plants that are between 1-2 years old is key when planting a raspberry patch. You should choose a variety that is especially suited to handle Northern Michigan’s unique climate and sandy soil, and can withstand our harsh winters. 

Bright Lane Gardens is proud to be a go-to supplier for regional berry plants! We supply our local community and beyond with healthy raspberry plants that are ready to be planted. We carry several raspberry varieties that are uniquely bred to thrive here in Northern Michigan.

If you’re not too sure what variety of raspberry to plant, check out our blog on the different varieties that are suited for our region. We’re also happy to answer any questions you might have directly. Feel free to reach out on our contact us page, we’ll look forward to hearing from you soon!

Raspberry Growing Guide

Long raspberry cane with many raspberries hanging from it ranging from black to red in color. Cane has some green leaves on it and there are several other plants in the background.

Photo By: 'Local Food Initiative'

Growing Raspberries In Northern Michigan

Unlike our native blueberries, raspberries are not as well suited for our climate here in Northern Michigan. Our harsh winters combined with humid, moist summers can limit the amount of fruit a single plant can produce. 

Fortunately, there are a few varieties that have been bred to perform well despite Northern Michigan’s weather trends. If you plant a hardy raspberry variety and combine that with the proper soil amendments and care, you’ll be rewarded with a highly fruitful plant that will provide abundant harvests for years to come.

Here are a few things that you will need:

  • Organic garden soil

  • Granular fertilizer

  • High quality compost or manure

  • Trellis (not mandatory, but very helpful in preventing broken canes)

What Is A Raspberry Cane?

Raspberries are a unique berry fruit because they grow on canes, versus growing on established stems and limbs from the previous years. A cane is simply a fresh shoot that is sent up from either the root of the plant, or from a previous years’ growth. 

First year canes that are sent up directly from the root of the plant are called primocanes, while second year canes that are sent up from the previous years’ growth are called floricanes. Both of these canes are capable of producing fruit. 

Canes can be fragile, which is why trellising raspberry plants is highly encouraged. A cane can be broken under the weight of fruit, animal interaction, or wind. Once a cane is broken, that part of the plant will die and no further fruit can be produced. Trellising raspberry canes keeps them supported and up off the ground, making them less susceptible to breaking.

Selecting A Site For Your Raspberry Plants

Raspberries prefer well draining, loamy soil. Loamy soil is considered to have an equal balance of sand, clay, and silt. In Northern Michigan, we tend to have more sandy soil. Amending sandy soil with a bag of organic garden soil can help balance this out. 

Raspberry bushes will grow best in full sun, meaning 6-8 hours per day of direct sunlight. Raspberry roots can be fragile, and it is important that they are kept out of standing water. A soil pH of 5.5 to 6.5 is the preferred range for these plants.

White flowers on a mature raspberry plant with green foliage in the background.

Photo by: Dawn Pedersen

Step-By-Step Instructions For Planting Raspberries

  • 1

    Set your plants in trenches that are large enough you can spread the roots out on either side of the cane. Set the crown of the plant (usually visualized by a dark brown line on the cane) approximately 1” below the soil level.

  • 2

    Space plants 18”-24” apart so they have room to grow. The trellis should be placed directly behind the bush.

  • 3

    Fertilize the soil 1 month after planting, and every 4-6 weeks throughout the summer. Do not fertilize in the fall.

  • 4

    Cut all canes back after the first frost, new brambles will shoot up from the root ball in the spring.

  • 5

    New plants need lots of water! Make sure the soil is well draining, but water daily until the raspberry plant is well-established.

How To Care For Raspberry Plants

Water is one of the primary factors of success when it comes to growing raspberries. New plants especially will need consistent moisture. Daily watering is necessary, especially in the warmer summer months. If you are using drip irrigation, make sure the roots do not sit in standing water.

Fertilizing with an organic, granular fertilizer is highly recommended for a better fruit yield. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of fertilizer on the soil surface in a 1 foot radius around the plant. Do not fertilize immediately after planting, wait at least 4 months for the roots to establish before the first application of fertilizer.

Cane Diseases On Raspberry Plants

Raspberry canes can be susceptible to disease. Fungi, such as anthracnose and spur blight, can cause immense damage to raspberry canes and are easily spread from plant to plant. We do not live in an area that has significant issues with cane disease. 

Fungi will present in the form of cankers, or sores, on the cane. These cankers are usually purple or brown in color, and can even have a fuzzy appearance to them. Sudden death on fruit bearing canes can also be indicative of a fungi infection.

If you notice these issues on your raspberry plants, not all is lost! Lime sulfur is a helpful ingredient in treating fungi. Apply lime sulfur in early spring. It is important not to apply it once the plant’s green stem has reached a length greater than ¼”. Do not plant additional raspberry plants to an area that is infected until the infection is eliminated.

Harvesting Your Raspberries

Now for the fun part! Raspberries will be ready for harvest at different times depending on their varieties. In Northern Michigan, we typically harvest the earliest raspberries in mid-summer, with some producing fruit late into the fall.

You will know a raspberry is ready for harvest when you can easily pull it from the stem. To test this out, gently tug a raspberry without squeezing the fruit. If the center of the fruit pulls easily away from the fleshy part, then it is ready for harvest! Look for berries that are rich in color and have reached full size before you attempt to harvest.

Numerous pints of red raspberries and black raspberries in teal containers set up in repeating rows.

Photo By: Scott 97006

Where To Buy Raspberry Plants That Thrive In Northern Michigan

Starting with healthy and strong raspberry plants that are between 1-2 years old is key when planting a raspberry patch. You should choose a variety that is especially suited to handle Northern Michigan’s unique climate and sandy soil, and can withstand our harsh winters. 

Bright Lane Gardens is proud to be a go-to supplier for regional berry plants! We supply our local community and beyond with healthy raspberry plants that are ready to be planted. We carry several raspberry varieties that are uniquely bred to thrive here in Northern Michigan.

If you’re not too sure what variety of raspberry to plant, check out our blog on the different varieties that are suited for our region. We’re also happy to answer any questions you might have directly. Feel free to reach out on our contact us page, we’ll look forward to hearing from you soon!