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Complete Guide to Growing Raspberries in Australia

Raspberries are a delicious summer treat that can easily be grown in your garden at home. To get started, you need to understand when to plant them, how to plant them, and how to care for them.

I had my first journey into growing raspberries in my last garden in Melbourne. I grew the summer-bearing variety and reaped a harvest of delectable fruits from these.

They do, however, require a little more maintenance than other types of fruit that grow on trees and also need a sturdy structure to support the canes.

When to plant raspberries in Australia

You should plant bare-rooted raspberries in late autumn to winter while the plants are dormant.

Bare rooted raspberry | Fruit & Vegetables

Sometimes, you’ll find potted plants available in spring and these should be planted straight away.

How to plant raspberries 

Raspberry seedlings 1 | Fruit & Vegetables

Raspberries need well-drained soil that has been enriched with plenty of organic matter, compost, and manure. These plants do tend to be heavy feeders. They also need to be planted in a sunny position that receives around 6 to 8 hours of sunlight daily.

Before you start planting your raspberries, you want to install a climbing or support structure for them.

Raspberry on trellis | Fruit & Vegetables

I planted mine along a fence line with rows of wires secured with cup hooks along the fence.

Alternatively, you can use a strong trellis or even chicken wire that you attach to the fence. Or, you can run wires between posts that are sunk into the ground.

Raspberries on trellis | Fruit & Vegetables

You want to plant your raspberries in rows and in groups of 2 or 3 spaced around 30 cm apart. For an average family, around 6 to 12 canes should be sufficient. But, if you want to have a surplus supply for making raspberry jam, consider planting around 20 to 30 canes.

I initially started with only 3 canes and these did not produce a great deal of fruit so they were eaten as soon as they were ripe.

To plant your canes, it’s easy to just dig a shallow trench and then place the roots of your canes into this at the correct spacing as mentioned above.

Raspberry seedlings | Fruit & Vegetables

It’s a good idea to backfill the trench with good-quality compost. This works well if you have free-draining soil.

However, if your soil does not drain quickly, it’s a good idea to create raised rows to facilitate really good drainage.

Once your raspberries are planted, cover the soil with mulch such as straw or sugar cane mulch. This will keep moisture in and also help to suppress weeds.

How to care for raspberries

There are two different types of raspberries:

  1. Summer-bearing varieties that only produce fruit in summer, and
  2. Everbearers that will produce fruit twice a year in summer and autumn.

How these two types produce fruit varies. Summer-bearing varieties bear fruit only on second-year canes. These are the ones that sprouted and grew in the previous spring and summer.

On the other hand, everbearers will only produce fruit on first-year canes. These are the canes that are growing in the same spring and summer as the fruit.

This knowledge will help you when it comes time to prune your canes as this needs to be relatively precise if you want a good supply of fruit.

Raspberries | Fruit & Vegetables

As far as maintenance goes for the raspberry’s main growing season in spring and summer, all you have to do is give them plenty of water and apply extra organic fertiliser around once a month.

You also have to tie the canes to the support as they can’t attach themselves. The main leader canes should be attached vertically and then across the wires horizontally. Any lateral branches should also be attached to the support horizontally.

How to prune raspberries

pruning raspberries | Fruit & Vegetables

This is where it becomes tricky because you need to know which type of raspberry plants you have.

Here’s a basic guide:

Summer-bearing raspberries

In autumn, when the plants have finished fruiting, you need to identify the canes that have fruited and cut these back down to the ground. These canes won’t fruit again. They are generally thicker and longer and may have a number of lateral branches.

However, when doing this, take care not to cut the new canes that have sprouted during the warmer months as these will be the fruit producers next year.

In saying that, if there are a lot of new canes that have grown, you can thin them back to around five to seven per plant.

Ever-bearing raspberries

With ever-bearing raspberries, you have two choices. You can either prune them exactly the same as summer-bearers or cut all the canes back down to the ground in winter.

The second choice means that you may not get a summer crop but you should have a prolific autumn harvest.

How long do raspberries take to grow?

If you plant your bare-rooted canes in autumn or winter, you will probably get a sparse harvest the following summer. However, the harvest will be much more prolific the following year.

So, don’t be discouraged during the first year, and keep looking after your plants.

When to harvest raspberries

Raspberries should be harvested when they are nice and plump and red. Bear in mind though, that there are some heirloom varieties that actually produce yellow berries. 

Harvesting Raspberries 1 | Fruit & Vegetables

Like other types of berries, you need to leave them on the plant until they’re ripe because this will help to increase the sweetness of the fruit.

How to harvest raspberries

To harvest your raspberries, just pick the ripe fruit straight from the canes. They should come away fairly easily but be careful to not crush the delicate berries as you’re picking them.

Harvesting Raspberries | Fruit & Vegetables

Raspberry pests and diseases

Most raspberry varieties available for home gardeners will be disease-resistant. I did not experience any problems with my canes except for fighting the birds for the ripe red fruit.

To solve this problem, you’ll have to net your plants in order to keep the birds away. 

Raspberry companion plants

Some good companion plants for raspberries include:

  • Lavender
  • Garlic & onions
  • Chives
  • Marigolds
  • Nasturtiums

You should avoid planting anything from the Solanaceae family such as tomatoes, potatoes or eggplants, near your raspberries. Additionally, avoid planting strawberries or fennel near your raspberries.

Can you grow raspberries in pots?

If you choose one of the newer and smaller growing varieties, you can grow raspberries in pots as long as you have a large pot with plenty of drainage holes and fill this with a premium potting mix.

Choose a pot that is at least 60cm in diameter and plant around six canes in this pot. Construct a support for the growing canes such as you would if growing in the ground.

FAQ

What is a raspberry cane?

A raspberry cane is the growth stem of a raspberry plant and this is what the fruit grows on.

What is the best climate to grow raspberries?

Raspberries are generally considered cold-climate plants and do well in the southern parts of the country.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.

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2 thoughts on “Complete Guide to Growing Raspberries in Australia”

  1. Hi Annette, thanks for the raspberry rev up.

    Just wondering why growing tomatoes or eggplant near by is a bad idea.

    I am trying to grow my plants in raised tubs (soil here is really really bad) 40cm wide by 60cm long by 50cm deep. It is coming into winter of the first year. They grew vigorously during the summer months, but no sign of flowers. I’m guessing I just tie up the long canes (they have green buds on them) and hope for some magic next spring??

    Reply
    • Hi Rob

      If the long canes are last summer’s growth, then they should produce fruit this year. Raspberries should not be grown near tomatoes or eggplants to avoid the introduction of fungal diseases such as fusarium wilt.

      Reply

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