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Growing Red Raspberries: Rubus idaeus

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A Rose family member, the Rubus genus has over 250 species. Rubus idaeus is the European red raspberry. R. idaeus var. strigosus, sometimes called Rubus strigosus, is the North American variety. Commercial raspberries are often hybrids of the two and are labeled Rubus idaeus for convenience.


Form: A bramble, composed of canes growing from root suckers.
Lifespan: Productive 4-20 years, depending on care.
Leaf retention: Deciduous.
Growth rate: Rapid.
Mature Size: 9' high and as wide.
Flowers: White, five petals.
Bloom: Spring. Low chill plants often bloom early and their flowers can be damaged by late frosts, lowering fruit production.
Self-fruitful: Yes.
Years before fruiting: 0-1.
Fruit: The "berry" is an aggregate fruit, with many small round fruit clustered together, connected to a center part called the torus. When picked, the fruits release from the torus, and resemble bowls with a hollow centers. The berries do not ripen further if picked before they are ripe.
Months for fruit to ripen: 1-1.5, depending on cultivar. They are ripe when they come off the vine with a very gentle pull, and must be checked daily. If too soft, they are over-ripe.
Storage after harvest: Eat immediately at room temperature or store in a refrigerator for up to 3 days. Freeze for longer storage. At room temperature, raspberries can start to get moldy in 2 hours.
Leaves: Dark green, fuzzy, wrinkled, toothed edges, 3-5 leaflets.
Stems: Canes are biennial, rootstocks are perennial. The canes can be thorny or thornless, depending on the cultivar. First year canes (primocanes) are green, second year canes (floricanes) are brown. Summer bearing canes produce vegetative growth the first year and bear flowers and fruit the second year, then die. Everbearing canes produce vegetative growth the first year and bear flowers and fruit on the top one-third of the cane in the fall. The second year they bear flowers and fruit on the bottom two-thirds of the cane, then die. Canes can take root where they touch the ground, often at the tips.
Roots: Shallow, spread by rhizomes, invasive in moist areas.
Cultivars of Note: for USDA zone 9 hot summers
'Bababerry' large red fruit, two crops, fall-bearing.
'Oregon 1030' large red fruit, prolific, fall-bearing.
Wildlife: Attracts bees, birds, and small mammals that eat the fruit.
Toxic / Danger: Possible thorns.
Origin: Commercially grown raspberries originated in the non-desert regions of Asia, Europe, and North America.

Red Raspberry: Rubus idaeus - fruit

Cultivation and Uses

USDA hardiness zones: Starting at 4 and ending between 8 to 11, depending on cultivar.
Chill hours: Vary from 250 to 1600 depending on cultivar. Plants needing 300 chill hours or less are more likely to bear fruit in USDA hardiness zones 8-9.
Heat tolerant: Somewhat. Red raspberries are more heat tolerant than black raspberries. Experiment with different cultivars to see what does best in your location.
Sun: When temperatures are over 80°F, raspberries need 50% morning shade and 100% afternoon shade, or open shade all day. Raspberries may fail when temperatures exceed 100°F for hours. They will do best next to the east side of a wall in USDA zones 9 and 10.
Drought tolerant: Slightly, but fruit production is adversely affected.
Water after becoming established: At least weekly without berries, daily during flower and berry production. Do not allow plants to dry out while flowering or fruiting. Water a circular area up to 3' from the base of the plant. Raspberry roots are shallow, not deep. One sign of insufficient water is berries that are small and crumbly.
Soil: Well drained, at least one foot deep, 10-20% organic material, pH 6.0-6.5 (slightly acidic) is best.
Fertilize: Do not fertilize the first year. Use an organic fertilizer, in early spring, spread in a two-foot circle around the plant, keeping 6" away from the base.
Mulch: Use 2-4" of organic material around roots, keeping 6" away from the base, to reduce heat stress on the roots.
Planting: Training to a fence or trellis is recommended. The structure should be in place before planting. Raspberries can be grown in very large containers. Raised garden beds are best in regions with heavy rains. Commercially, red raspberries are often grown in rows as hedges.
Prune: For summer bearing raspberries, cut the second year cane to the ground after its fruit have been harvested. For everbearing varieties, cut off the top one-third of the cane that has just borne fruit. In the summer, cut the remainder of that cane, having just borne fruit on its bottom two-thirds, to the ground.
Litter: Low to moderate.
Propagation: Cuttings, tip layering.
Pests: Raspberries are very susceptible to Verticillium wilt. Avoid planting in soils where previous plants had that disease. Nightshade family members and some rose family members are susceptible, so avoid soils where they have grown. Black raspberries are more susceptible to disease, so avoid planting red raspberries within 100 feet of them to reduce insect-spread diseases.
Uses: Edible fruit, leaves used for tea.


The black raspberry is a separate species: Rubus occidentalis. Purple raspberries are hybrids of red and black cultivars.
Raspberries often fail in USDA zones 9 and 10 and most gardeners find blackberries to be a more reliable crop.

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Latest update: January, 2019