Raspberries are among the easiest fruit-bearing plants to grow in Central Texas. With the right conditions and following the right advice, you will be rewarded with bountiful red berries to enjoy.
When to plant Raspberries?
Raspberry bushes are available in local nurseries twice a year, and they come in two different forms. Potted canes are sold in the fall through early winter. Bareroot bushes are usually available for springtime planting. Plant either one at the corresponding time it is available.
Planting in the fall is somewhat more suitable for central Texans. The temperatures are cooler, which makes it easier to maintain the newly planted canes. the mild winters provide enough time for the plant to establish its root system to be able to face the brutal summer.
If you decide to plant in the spring, which is very short in Texas, be prepared to water religiously during the summer.
Can I grow Raspberries from seed?
Growing raspberries from seed requires a lot of patience. Raspberry seeds need a whole season of cold temperature to be able to germinate. Sow them in seed-starting cells and place them outdoors or in an unheated garage for the whole winter. They will germinate once the temperature reaches 55F (12C). Treat the seedling like you would any other seedling by keeping them in a well-lit area and well-watered.
With that said, keep in mind that the raspberry plant grown from seed will take up to 18 months before producing.
Choosing the right Raspberry variety for your area
Before planting anything, always do your homework and research to find the right variety for your specific region. Like any other plant, raspberries come in a variety of cultivars.
Dorman Red is the most reliable raspberry cultivar for central Texas, needing minimal attention. It is a trailing plant with thorns and bears small fruit in early summer.
Some people also had good luck with Heritage variety, which is also low maintenance, but most importantly overbearing. It produces large sweet berries in summer and then later in early fall.
How to plant raspberry plant?
How to plant bare root plant?
If you got a bare root raspberry plant, you should plant it in late winter early spring.
- Remove the root ball from the bag and shake off the excess soil.
- Place it in a water-filled bucket to rehydrate the roots for a few hours.
- Dig the planting hole slightly bigger than the root ball.
- Place the plant in a way the roots would flare-up.
- Avoid coiling any long roots, cut them shorter instead.
- Backfill the hole with native soil, gently pressing it down to remove air pockets.
- Firm the soil around the cane to stabilize it, then cut it back to one to two feet above the ground.
- Water thoroughly.
How to plant potted plants?
Potted trees and shrubs are available in the fall, and that’s the time you should be planting them. Follow the same steps as the bare roots except for step 2.
Raspberries need good quality, healthy, and well-draining soil. Avoid planting in heavy clay as it affects their growth and production. Amend the soil with a lot of organic compost to improve its texture and drainage.
Raspberries grow best in full sun, which means no less than 7 hours of direct exposure. However, in Texas, they do appreciate some afternoon dappled to full shade.
Dorman Red is the variety that is adapted to the central Texas climate. It is considered drought and heat tolerant once established. Water your newly planted canes once a week or so for the first year. After that, your plant will take care of itself, unless the area is going through a severe drought.
If you prepare the soil well at planting, you will not need much fertilization. Adding good compost yearly to enrich the soil and mulching to reduce weeds is a great practice. You may supplement with some organic fertilizer ahead of the fruiting season.
Supporting raspberry plants
Raspberries have a wild growth pattern, and their stems are not as sturdy. Support is necessary to keep the canes upright and tidy. Today there are many ready to assemble raspberry trellis kits, but you can also make one yourself. The picture below shows the one I made for my garden.
Can I grow raspberries in a raised bed?
That is one of the easiest ways to grow raspberries. Most of us have difficult soil to work with, so setting up a raised bed is a great option to avoid dealing with compact native soil. Fill the raised bed with good soil that is rich in organic matter and allow it to settle before planting. In my garden, I have a three-by-eight raised bed dedicated to the raspberry.
The self-pollinating blooms start showing up in early spring, and it takes two to three weeks for the fruit to ripen. The berry is ready to be picked when it releases easily from the stem. If you feel any resistance, you should wait a bit longer.
At the end of the season, and once production comes to an end, it is important to prune your raspberry patch. This usually takes place in the fall. However, you need to know that you should only cut back old canes that have already produced fruits. If you cannot recall which canes are old, you can identify them by their woody and dark-colored stems compared to the new canes.
Propagation of raspberry plants
Raspberry branches root themselves easily as soon as they touch the ground. They also send new sprouts, which can easily be uprooted and transplanted elsewhere. This is one of the cons of growing raspberries, as it can take over the garden if not kept under control.
Nutritional value raspberry plant
Raspberries are low in calories but high in fiber and Vitamin C. They make a great treat for dieters. According to healthine.com, they may also contain anti-aging and anti-cancer properties.
Raspberry leaves also have medicinal properties as it helps relieve menstrual discomfort and diarrhea. Raspberry leaf tea should become a household staple replacing the common black tea.
How to make raspberry leaf tea?
Harvest new leaves early in the season before the fruits appear. New leaves are tastier than old ones. Wash them well, and air dry them on a rack or using a dehydrator. Store the dried leaves in a glass jar away from sunlight and humidity.
To make the tea:
- Take one ounce of dry leaves or a handful of fresh leaves.
- Pour a pint of hot water over them.
- Cover and allow to steep for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Strain and enjoy with a little honey.