How to Transplant Raspberry Plants

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Choosing disease-free raspberry varieties results in fewer problems later.
Choosing disease-free raspberry varieties results in fewer problems later. (Image: igmarx/iStock/Getty Images)

Raspberry bushes (Rubus ideaus) can survive for 15 years when grown in the right site and transplanted correctly. These fruiting bushes grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 9, depending on variety. Transplant raspberries in late winter or early spring, as soon as the soil thaws and dries out enough to work, so the plants can quickly establish when growth resumes.

Picking a Spot

Raspberries need beds that receive full, all-day sun and have well-drained but fertile soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5. Avoid heavy clay or wet soil, which can result in root rot and fungus problems, along with poor growth and fruiting. Choose a different site if potatoes (Solanum tuberosum), tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum) or other plants prone to the verticillium wilt fungus grew in the bed in the previous three years; otherwise, disease organisms may have built up in the soil and they can infect the raspberries.

Soil Basics

Removing sod, weeds and old plant debris the year before you plant can minimize both weed and insect populations after transplanting the raspberries. Working in a 3- to 4-inch layer of aged compost into the top 8 to 12 inches of soil adds organic matter and improves the bed's moisture qualities, while the tilling breaks up any large soil clods to further improve drainage. Work in 1 pound of 12-12-12 fertilizer for every 100 square feet of planting when you till in the compost to provide the nutrients necessary for initial growth.

Transplant With Care

The planting hole for a raspberry plant must be wide enough so you can spread out the roots, but only deep enough so the plant sits at the same depth it was growing at previously. Plant container grown plants so the top of the soil ball is level with the garden soil surface. For bare-root plants, spread out their roots gently in the hole, adjusting the planting depth so the top of the root ball is no more than 1 inch below the soil surface. After filling in the hole, water so the soil settles and until the site is evenly moist throughout the root zone. Space the plants 2 feet apart in rows set 8 feet apart to create a raspberry hedgerow.

Keep Them Growing

A quick prune after planting improves growth and vigor. Wipe the shears with a rubbing alcohol-soaked cloth to disinfect them, and then trim back the canes to a 6-inch height. Most raspberries varieties won't fruit the first year, but proper pruning at planting will increase production in future years. Installing a trellis, although optional, will keep plants more upright as they begin to grow longer canes, which also results in better future fruiting. The raspberries don't require any additional fertilizer the first year, but they do need 1 inch of water per week. Mulching around the plants helps conserve moisture and prevent weed growth, but leave a 3-inch space between the mulch and the base of the canes.

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