Raspberries, plucked soft and sweet, are the most delicate of fruits. This makes them perfect for home gardens—you can give them all the tender handling they need and enjoy them at their best.
Raspberries ripen through much of summer and fall. Summer-bearing plants such as 'Boyne' fruit on 2-year old canes. Ever-bearing plants such as 'Heritage' and 'Redwing' can produce both a summer crop (on second-year canes) and a fall crop (on new canes). However, ever-bearers produce their best crops when only allowed to fruit in the fall, as explained in "Pruning and Training."
Best Climate and Site
Raspberries generally grow from Zones 3 to 9, but you'll need to find a cultivar that's appropriate for your climate. In Northern areas, try extra-hardy cultivars such as 'Boyne', 'Nova', and 'Nordic'. In the South, try heat-tolerant 'Dorman Red', 'Bababerry', and 'Southland'.
Find a site with full sun and good air circulation. Avoid places where high winds can whip the canes around and damage the plants. The site should be at least 1,000 feet (30 m) from any wild blackberries or similar bramble berries that could share problems. Provide fertile, well-drained soil that hasn't been used to grow bramble berries, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplants, or roses, which can leave behind diseases that attack raspberries.
Choosing Your Plants
Buy only certified disease-free plants. You can get the bareroot, in containers, or as tissue-cultured plantlets. Your best option is probably vigorous, year-old, bareroot plants that have been propogated from virus-indexed stock.
Raspberries come in several colors. Yellow and red raspberries are the hardiest and are very sweet. Black raspberries are delicious but are the least hardy and the most susceptible to disease. Purple raspberries fall somewhere in between red and black.
Select raspberry cultivars that ripen at different times to spread out your harvest. For example, you could plant early-ripening, red summer raspberries such as 'Algonquin' and "chilliwack', then black raspberries such as 'Bristol', then ever-bearers such as 'Autumn Bliss' and 'Heritage'.