I think my raspberries hate me

Posted on July 1st, 2009 – 10:27 AM
By Jaime Chismar

I really do.

I thought raspberries were your ultimate “tough-as-nails, grow anywhere” kind of plant. But after two years, mine are barely a foot high.

This year, they flowered a little. Some of the flowers even became tiny raspberries, but none of the tiny raspberries have become edible fruit. Most died right on the branch.

They get morning sun and late afternoon sun. During the heat of the day, they are shaded by a pine tree. They have a nice layer of wood mulch. They get water when I water the garden.

I just don’t get it. Why do my raspberries hate me? What am I doing wrong?

20 Responses to "I think my raspberries hate me"

Peter Hoh says:

July 1st, 2009 at 10:37 am

I think it depends on the variety. Many do best in full sun. Next time there’s a Green Girls Plant Swap, I’ll set up with some of my shade-loving black raspberries.

Connie Nelson says:

July 1st, 2009 at 10:48 am

I finally gave up on raspberries. They took over the yard with their thorny canes and produced precious little fruit. But, boy, did I have a tough time getting rid of them! They came up all over the yard for years . . .

mememom says:

July 1st, 2009 at 12:27 pm

Our raspberries (an ever bearing variety) have finally taken off after many years of too little sun and water. Since I added the drip hose down the center of the canes on its way to the tomatoes, we’ve had bumper crop after bumper crop. Last night I filled another pasta bowl with yesterday’s ripe berries and there are tons more waiting for me.

The other thing I know is that with ever bearing, fruit appears on last year’s canes. So, once the berries are done, we trim out the dead canes and leave the new, green boughs through the winter.

Troy Pladson says:

July 1st, 2009 at 12:47 pm

Yeah, as Peter suggested, it does depend on the variety. Newly planted raspberries take time to get established, and once they are, how prolific they are also depends on which variety / genetic selection you’re working with. As with all fruiting plants, more sun is generally good and more sun = more & bigger fruits. It does take time to get to know raspberries, because they grow differently than other plants and need some space to grow & develop.

ANYWAY, Jaime: the things I’m guessing are working against your raspberry plant(s): possibly excess shade, possibly soil your plant doesn’t like (check pH if you can), but if your root zone is not drying out sufficiently that’s probably the worst thing. Raspberries are shallow rooters, but they also need to dry out some between waterings…again, genes of the particular plant can make all the difference. There are quite a few varieties to choose from these days!

Geoff says:

July 1st, 2009 at 12:55 pm

I have a few blackberry (black raspberry?) plants in my back yard I inherited from the old owners. I guess I need a raspberry primer, because…I’m not sure what’s what. The fruit bearing plants have small leaves (sets of 3, about 1″ long each) and dark stems. There are TONS of thorny vines coming up all around them with green vines and leaves 3 times as big. Are those the new growth? I take it they won’t bear until next year?

Hopefully they aren’t just some thorny weeds. I wonder if there is a way I can tame them with fences to encourage their growth…

Geoff says:

July 1st, 2009 at 1:17 pm

Hmm… Fortunately the extension website has tons of info on my plants. They are black raspberries. Green canes appear to be first year growth, the dark ones are 2nd year. They are probably a wild black raspberry variety, since they are in an undeveloped area.

Getting them under control may be a challenge, as they’ve been doing their own thing for so long that I can’t get any organized rows or hills going. I’ll just treat them the best I can once they are done producing (and they aren’t producing a lot…but enough) so that next year… oh boy!

MaggieM says:

July 1st, 2009 at 1:39 pm

I have taken raspberry plants from my great grandmothers yard and planted them in my own yard. It took 3 years for them to really take off. Last year I had a pretty good season but this year, I am already enjoying a bumper crop.

My plants are in full sun all day, on the northeast side of a fence, so they are somewhat protected from wind and rain. Mine are also the type that only produce fruit on 2nd and 3rd year canes. Last fall I collected used coffee grounds to use as fertilizer. My uncle, the real gardner in the family, told me to cut out the fruit producing canes as soon as the berry season is done. Then in the fall, cut back the 1st year canes to about 1 ft. This will help with root growth and cane strength.

While my raspberry thumb is not very developed, I think one of the reasons your plants wont grow is because of where they are placed. Pine trees drop needles and turn the soil acidic- raspberries don’t like that very much. They also want full sun. And they may still be getting established and developing their root system. Other than the fertilizer I mix into the top of the soil, I leave my raspberries alone. I don’t have anything else planted near them so as to not disturb their root growth and expansion.

If you have other questions, ask a farmer the next time your at a farmers market- they are a wealth of information- and looovve to talk plants.

MaggieM says:

July 1st, 2009 at 1:47 pm

Oooh, I remembered another thing they need.


There are lilacs and apple trees in the neighbors yard so I assume when the bees are in route to the neighbors, they find my raspberries. Happy bees= happy plants= lots of fruit and flowers.

Cedar13 says:

July 1st, 2009 at 5:09 pm

The soil below the pine tree may be too acidic for raspberries; however, blueberries love an acidic environment. Test the acidic.
Pine tree could be sucking up all the moisture. Remove the mulch and see how dry the soil in the top few inches. Raspberries roots are shallow and don’t compete well. There
may be not enough nutients.
Put down some composted manure with bone meal then put mulch back on.
Good berry production requires a lot of P and K. My monster plants are loaded with large tasty berries. Picked the first last night.

Robyn Dochterman says:

July 1st, 2009 at 5:55 pm

Dang it Geoff. I was going to mess with you and tell you your berries were really poison ivy. But you’re a good and quick researcher!

Greenpa says:

July 1st, 2009 at 6:56 pm

My guess- they are starving. Feed them!

Woody perennial plants (raspberries almost qualify) are EXTREMELY heavy feeders while they are getting there root systems established. Most urban and suburban soils are starving for N; and probably K; and maybe P.

Do an experiment! Fertilize 2 plants- (don’t put it right on the stems!) – water it in well, and look again in 2 weeks.

“They just need years to take off” actually means- they took years to accumulate the nutrients they need, from bird poo and ant pee- since you didn’t feed them.

DebW says:

July 1st, 2009 at 9:51 pm

I have to agree with Grandpa: raspberries are kinda greedy, mine died when the next door neighbors trees incroched on their sunlight. In their heyday they gave off ice cream bucket after bucket, mulched with tons of ground up leaves and watered every other day.

Junius Stenseth says:

July 1st, 2009 at 11:59 pm

Nearly nothing grows well under pine trees because the soil becomes excessively acidic. Blueberries would, on the other hand, probably thrive in such soil. Otherwise, raspberries are hardy as few other bushes, needing no fertilizer and even half sun. It does help to cut off older, dry canes in the fall to let the young ‘uns build up for the next year.

Rich H. says:

July 2nd, 2009 at 12:22 am

Keep weeding! After 6 years in our home with an already raspberry patch and faithful weeding, we could not keep up with picking last year. We do have full sun and I believe bearing and ever bearing fruits.

Kipper says:

July 2nd, 2009 at 11:33 pm

siiigh..you guys got any kind of vest I could wear?

Lisa says:

July 7th, 2009 at 4:39 pm

I planted two raspberry bushes when we moved into our first home in June of 2003. After two full summers they had not yet provided even one berry. I was thoroughly disappointed! We were moving to another home in June of 2006 – their third season – and, as they had been fruitless thus far, I was thoroughly prepared to leave them behind. Lo and behold, on the day we were packing the truck to leave my husband came in bearing three brightly colored berries from the seemingly barren bush. I immediately dug them up and re-planted them in my new garden. They didn’t provide the first year after the transplant, but they have been expanding ever since. Now, three summers after that transplant, they have grown at least 10-fold in size, now occupying over 15 square feet of my garden. I estimate they will probably provide a harvest of around 5 lbs of berries in a week or so. So don’t lose heart quite yet. Give them time, and I suspect they will soon provide a great harvest.

shannon says:

July 14th, 2009 at 1:37 pm

I’m hoping for some help. I bought a house a year ago and I have a wonderful raspberry bush in my backyard, not only do I have raspberrys but I have an amazing flower garden…But I have NO idea what is a weed and what is a flower that will later bloom! Question at hand, I have tall stalks growing in the area of my raspberry bushes that look similar to the other bush (the thorns primarily) but it grows straight up..and it grew fast! will it bend and produce fruit next year or do I pull it out?
Want-to-be-green thumb

kelly says:

July 14th, 2009 at 3:26 pm


Its a first for me on Gardening websites but here goes I need a bit of advice I have a raspberry plant.
I do not have a garden so its in a pot I am getting a little fruit but now it seems to be dyeing.
I did feed it with organic plant food and it seems to be getting worse from there :( any help?????

dolores says:

July 18th, 2009 at 9:15 am

My black raspberries are the small kind that you would find in a ditch along a road. I found the plants at a greenhouse and planted them three summers ago. They are groing well and spreading. I had a great amount of blooms but no fruit this is the second year. Do I need a male/female plant. Or should I see something next year. I have also planted Blackberries at the same time and they are doing extremely well but I would like the flavor of the fruit I remember picking as a child.

Erica says:

July 18th, 2009 at 9:49 am

My raspberries were planted last year, they brought lots of berries. This year, there are none. I trimmed the canes back last year and let the new greens grow. They have increased in size significantly but as I said, no berries yet. Any idea what is going on?