raspberries and blackberries
Updated: June 14, 2021

Growing raspberries and blackberries (brambles)

  • Collectively brambles are defined as any species belonging to the Rubus genus. This covers a large number of plants found growing wild in the woods and fields surrounding us.
  • Brambles of interest to the home gardener, however, are domestic raspberries (red, black, yellow, and purple types) and blackberries (thornless and thorny types). 
  • Wineberry, Rubus phoenicolasius, should not be grown in the home garden. It escapes cultivation and is now recognized as an invasive, non-native pest harmful to the natural environment.
  • Bramble species vary by fruit color, growth habit (thus cultural practice), pest problems, and other characteristics. 
  • Bramble crowns and roots are perennial. Canes are biennial. The canes, typical biennial life-cycle is as follows: Each spring, canes known as primocanes emerge, grow tall, put out lateral branches, and overwinter. In the second growing year, the canes, now called floricanes, produce flowers and fruit. 
  • Floricanes die after fruiting and must be removed eventually. Usually, this is done in late winter before new canes begin coming up.

Recommended Bramble Cultivars

Raspberries Red-June bearing
Amos-H Good winter hardiness; mid-season berry. Round-shaped fruit of moderate size.
Latham Mid-season, cold-hardy variety that tolerates virus diseases. Flavorful, firm fruit.
Lauren

Vigorous plants yield large berries with excellent flavor. May not do well in years when temperatures fluctuate widely in late winter.

Taylor Tall, vigorous, erect plants. Fruits are large and firm with excellent flavor.
Titan Very vigorous, cold-hardy cultivar but is susceptible to phytophthora root rot. Large, mild fruit. Early harvest.
  Red-primocane-bearing
Amity Similar to Heritage, but ripens two weeks earlier.

Autumn
Britten

Two weeks earlier than Heritage; good flavor.
Caroline University of Maryland release; excellent flavor. Harvest is earlier than Heritage.
Heritage

Widely adapted, vigorous variety that suckers freely. Fruit is medium size, of very high quality and tolerates light frosts. Harvest from mid to late August through severe frost or freeze.

Jaclyn University of Maryland release; earliest primocane. Good flavor and heat tolerance.
Josephine University of Maryland release. Strong plant; good pest resistance; very high quality fruit holds well.
  Yellow-primocane-bearing
Anne University of Maryland release. Large fruit with good flavor.
Fall Gold Fruit is fairly soft, small, with excellent, sweet flavor. Good cold hardiness; adapted to a wide variety of soils.
  Black
Bristol Large fruit of excellent quality. Erect, vigorous, productive plants.
Haut University of Maryland release. Very good flavor, mid-size fruit; high-yielding plants.
Jewel Vigorous and very productive mid-season cultivar with large, fine-flavored fruit and good disease resistance.
  Purple
Brandywine Vigorous, winter-hardy variety with canes that are large, erect, and thorny. Very large, tangy fruit.
Royalty Large fruit that becomes sweeter as it reaches full purple color. Very vigorous and productive canes.

Recommended Blackberry Cultivars

Blackberries  
  Thornless-trailing (May not be suitable for colder portions of Western Maryland)
Chester Similar to Hull but ripens 10 days later. Very cold-hardy, productive canes with large, sweet fruit.
Dirksen Vigorous, productive, erect canes. Large, high-quality fruit. Not as cold-hardy as other varieties.
Hull Very vigorous, semi-erect canes. Large, sweet, firm fruit with excellent flavor.
Triple Crown Vigorous and productive. Good cold hardiness. Good quality fruit.
  Thorny (More cold-hardy and sweeter than thornless types)
Cherokee Erect and productive cultivar with medium size fruit.
Darrow

Tall, vigorous plants with erect canes. Good winter hardiness. Firm, medium berries with good, sub-acid flavor. Ripens early.

Shawnee Late, productive plants that are very cold-hardy. Large and flavorful fruit.
  Thornless-erect
Apache Largest fruit of the three cultivars. Ripens between the other two. Large fruit; very erect canes.
Arapaho Ripens earlier than Navaho and has very small seeds. Vigorous and productive.
Navaho Good flavor; small fruit. This was the first release in the thornless erect category.

 

Planting Brambles

 

Min. distance
between rows
        (ft.)

Between
plants (ft.)

Annual yield
per plant (lbs.)

Yrs. from planting
to first crop

Av. life
span
(years)

Raspberry-red         8      2          1.5            2 5 - 12
Raspberry-black         8      2.5          1.5            2 5 - 10
Raspberry-purple         8       3          1.5            2 5 - 12

Blackberry
(thornless)

        8       5        3 - 10

       2 - 3

  

 

5 - 12

Here are the basics for growing brambles

  • Full sun is best; six hours minimum.
  • In warmer regions of the state, raspberries may prefer light shade from the hot late afternoon sun.
  • Plant brambles in early spring.
  • However, tissue-cultured brambles are tender and should be planted after the last spring frost.
  • Black raspberry plants are susceptible to mosaic virus and should not be planted close to red raspberries; Avoid poorly drained soils and sites where verticillium-susceptible crops (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant, and strawberries) have been grown. 
  • Wild brambles are a principal source of disease, so plant far from wild brambles and remove any within 50 yards. 
  • Prune bare-root plants after transplanting.
  • Healthy, potted plants do not require any initial pruning. 
  • After planting, cut off any old, dead canes attached to the crown as they may harbor disease. 
  • Remove flower blossoms during the first year to encourage plant establishment.