Have you ever wondered how to grow raspberries from seed? In this article, I’ll take you through the process so you can grow your own fresh raspberries at home.
Growing raspberries from seed does require patience. From germination to the first fruit is about 18 months. But it’s worth it for those delicious red berries.
Raspberries only need one plant to flower and produce. Each of those plants can produce about 2 quarts of berries per year. And since the raspberry plant is perennial, it will grow and give fruit year after year.
Raspberries are well known as summer fruit. But did you know there’s an ever-bearing raspberry variety too? Ever-bearing raspberry plants can be harvested in late spring/early summer and a second harvest in the fall.
Growing Raspberries From Seed
Raspberry seeds usually need a period of cold temperatures to germinate successfully. It’s a process called cold stratification.
Some seeds have a dormant period. It prevents them from germinating at the wrong time of year. Stratification is the process of tricking the seeds into believing winter’s over. Then, when the conditions are right, they’ll germinate and sprout.
Secondly, it helps soften and prepare the seed shells. Raspberry seeds have a tough outer shell to help them survive being eaten by wild animals and the cold of winter.
To stratify your raspberry seeds, start by soaking them in room temperature water for 24 hours. The soaking will soften the outer shell. Then, line a colander with a coffee filter or cheesecloth and drain it carefully.
Sowing Raspberry Seeds
- Mix water and a seed starter soil together until the soil is just moist and about the texture of a sponge. You don’t want it dripping wet. If you’ve added too much water, you can squeeze the excess out of the soil.
- A three-inch starter pot is the perfect size for starting your raspberry seeds. Fill the pots with the seed starter mix, leaving about a half-inch at the top. Compress the soil slightly to make sure there are no air pockets.
- Add 3 or 4 raspberry seeds to the top of the soil. The seeds are tiny, and if you end up with a few extras, it’s ok.
- Top the pots with a thin layer, no more than a quarter-inch, of the moist seed starter soil mix.
- Place the pots on a tray and then the tray inside a plastic bag.
- Slide the tray into the fridge. You should be careful not to place the tray in a back corner that might accidentally freeze.
- At this point, the tray should be left alone and kept between 31-41°F (0-5°C) for about six weeks.
- After the six weeks are up, you can move the tray outside to a sunny area in the spring. Make sure to keep the soil moist but not wet. Before you know it, you’ll have raspberry sprouts!
- Once your raspberry seedlings are about one inch tall and outside temperatures are 60°F (15°C) or higher, you’re safe to transplant your raspberry seedlings to their permanent home.
Growing Raspberries From Fresh Fruit
Ordering raspberry seeds online can be hit or miss. Where the seeds came from, how old they are, and how they’ve been treated will determine how successful your plants are.
But, you can buy a pint of raspberries from the local grocers and start your seeds from fresh fruit.
Once you’re home from the grocers, leave the berries to come up to room temperature.
Then, with a fine-mesh strainer, start rinsing and mashing the berries. Rinse with warm running water and pat the seeds dry. Now, you’ve got fresh raspberry seeds you can grow!
These seeds will definitely be dormant so follow the instructions to stratify your seeds, and then you can get growing raspberry plants!
Ideal Growing Conditions for Raspberry Bushes
Raspberry plants should be planted 18-24 inches (45-60cm) apart, with rows at least 8 feet (2.4 meters) apart. Each row should be 2 feet (1/2 meter) wide.
If the planting area has poor drainage or soil with high clay content, you will need raised beds or mounds to plant your raspberry seedlings. Raspberries grow best in loam or sandy-loam soils that is well-drained with the addition of organic matter such as aged manure and compost. If you’re adding organic matter, it’s best to add it at least three weeks before planting.
The optimum pH is 6.5-6.8 but not below 6.0. It’s a good idea to test the soil at least yearly and add matter to get your pH levels right. You’ll have healthier plants that give you more raspberry fruit when you take the time to do this.
Raspberry plants need regular water, about 2 inches per week. The key is moist soil but not wet.
Since raspberries are a bramble bush, they’ll eventually need trellising. You won’t actually need the trellis until the second year, but it’s much easier to build now than to add it around already established plants.
The more sun you’re berries get, the more raspberries you’ll get. If you can, go for full sun to get the best results and the most raspberries.
Care for your Raspberry Bush
Each spring, you can add fertilizer to your soil alongside the rows. The ratio is 1 lb of fertilizer per 100 sq feet of row. I recommend this organic berry fertilizer. It’s not necessary to add anything to the plants for the fall. The root systems are shallow, so be cautious if you do any cultivating. Keep it to one inch deep, and you should be safe.
Because your raspberry bush is a perennial, regular pruning after you’ve harvested your berries is needed. For the summer varieties, prune the canes that produced fruit down to the ground. Be careful not to prune the green canes – these are the canes that will give you fruit next year.
For the ever-bearing varieties, you can prune in the same manner to get two harvests each year. However, to get one plentiful fall harvest, prune all canes to the ground in the fall or winter once the plant is dormant.
One final tip – once you have fruit growing on your plants, you drop a net with an elasticized opening to protect the raspberries from all the critters. The fine mesh netting is available from big-box retailers, garden centers, and netting online here.
Raspberries are Awesome
Raspberries are a great addition to your home garden. They’re delicious with a million ways to eat them. With a bit of care, your plants will give you berries year after year, so why not give them a try?
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