Monday, June 21, 2010

Huh, So they won't grow here?!

My mother and I have a saying about growing plants where they are not suppose to grow..... "SHHH, don't tell them, they didn't read the book".
In the past, I have had some.....I won't call them heated discussions, but some...."THEY WILL NOT GROW HERE", type of discussions. In case you are wondering, I am talking about growing Raspberries in Charleston, South Carolina. Apparently, I am in the "Ain't Gonna Happen Zone" when it comes to growing these tasty little treasures.
Huh, I wonder what these things are?

You are looking at Red Raspberries, Golden Raspberries and Black Raspberries. Oh, by the way....these are being grown in containers to boot.

Raspberries are in the genus known as Rubus. They are valuable in home gardens because of the fruits being fragile and because of their perishable nature. They come in a multitude of colors, including, Red, Purple, Black and Yellow or Golden. The only one I don't have yet is the purple, key word there is yet.
There are many health benefits to Raspberries. They rank near the top of all fruits for antioxidant strength. Raspberries are a rich source of vitamin C, with 30 mg per serving of 1 cup. That is about 50% of your daily recommended allowance. Contents of B vitamins, folic acid, magnesium, copper and iron are considerable in Raspberries along with 30% of your daily dietary fiber.
All raspberry plants are perennial, meaning the roots live for many years. The canes are biennial, they grow one year (primocanes or first year of growth) and produce fruit the following year on their (floricanes or second year of growth). The floricanes die after they have fruited. In the Spring, I wait until the canes start to flush new growth. The ones that show signs of life, I leave alone. The ones that are dead and not showing life, get cut out....pretty simple huh? This way, I don't have to try and tag them or remember which ones had fruit last year, etc.
Raspberry plants grow best in a well-drained, fertile, loam soil with moderate water-holding capacity. Avoid heavy clay soils. Sometimes you can improve a less desirable site by tiling, increasing organic matter content, and building raised beds. They prefer a soil pH 6.0 to 6.5.
The amount of water available to the Raspberry plant during the growing season is very important. Excess water can result in root disease problems, while a shortage of water can reduce overall plant vigor, especially yield. Raspberry plants need plenty of water, especially during fruiting. On average, Raspberry plants require about 1 inch of water per week. This is, of course, relative to the type of soil and where they are growing and what they are growing in, (i.e. ground or container)
Apply fertilizer in early spring when new growth is starting. A balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer is ideal. You can fertilize again about 2 months after the initial application.
You do not need more than one plant to get fruit. Though, more plants, more fruit! Raspberries are self fruitful, they do need bees to pollinate. Raspberry flowers have a high nectar content, which attracts many bees.
Research has shown that Raspberries are not well suited to southern climates because most cultivars have relatively high chilling requirements and do not tolerate high summer temperatures. I think that my way way of growing them and where I have them located is how I have bean able to beat this research. Growing in containers, the roots get a quicker and more intense chill. I also have them placed on the East side of my house. Morning sun, not the intense Western afternoon sun.

As you can see, I use a three pole tee-pee type system for support. I am also experimenting with a fan trellis. The tee-pee actually seems to work better so far. There are many, many different types of trellis systems. I encourage you to look them up online and decide which one will work best for you.
There are also many insects and diseases that can damage Raspberries. Damage can be kept to minimum if these general rules are followed:
1. Remove all wild bramble plants near the area.
2. Select high quality planting stock.
3. Destroy plants in which disease appears and prune out insect infested canes and burn them. If you are planting a new crop, they should not be planted where potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants or bulbs have previously been grown. These crops are hosts for the disease Verticillium Wilt, a fungus that can stay in the soil for many years and can infest the Raspberry crop. If you do see a disease or pest on your plants, please contact your local Master Gardener or extension agent. There are different pests and diseases indigenous to different areas of the country and that alone could entail an entire blog topic.
What to do when you do finally get fruit? Pick it every 3 to 4 days. When the berries are ripe, they can be pulled off the receptacle or plug (portion that remains on the plant) quite easily. Use a shallow container to prevent the fruit from crushing. To extend shelf life, avoid picking when berries are wet and refrigerate as soon as possible.
I have VERY fond memories of picking Raspberries when I was young in New Jersey. I just wish I knew what cultivar they were, I would get some in a heartbeat! I know, I know, they won't do well that far south! HUH, watch me!
Happy Growing!


  1. Hey Darren. Thanks for the quality info here. Can you recommend good raspberry varieties for Charleston? I am also in Charleston and want to try container growing bramble berries. I would love trying thornless varieties, but would like to hear if they've performed well or poorly in your experience.



    1. Hey Chris,
      Drop me a line in my e-mail.....
      I can answer you easier that way.

  2. Dennis A TraffasJune 5, 2013 at 6:19 AM

    Dear Sir:

    My wife and I recently retired and are very interested in container gardening. We are especially interested in growing dwarf fruit trees (apple, peach, apricot and cherry). I’m sure you must be inundated with mail, so my question is do you have any books or magazines available to us ‘newbies’? We live in West Columbia SC and regular gardening is not possible because of a massive infestation of bamboo. Looking forward to any suggestions

    1. To be honest, I really don't know of too many books on growing stuff in containers. Mainly I use anything that I can find and modify it to containers.
      The main things to remember are:
      Containers dry out faster than in the ground
      You will need to grow either dwarf trees or have very large containers.
      A container can get very hot, you will need to use a light colored one or shade it from the sun
      Other than that, they are just the same as in ground.
      Please, feel free to ask any questions. I am a Charleston County Master Gardener and I am always ready to answer questions.
      Just send them to:

  3. I live at Lake Wateree and my "soil" is red clay (they manufactured bricks near here in Colonial times). Obviously, anything I plant requires a great deal of soil amending. The holes we dig for plants are sort of like giant terra cotta pots in my yard! I do add gypsum and the appropriate soil mixture to these "in-ground containers," and you have now given me hope for a shot at raspberries in a properly prepared bed. I'm thinking a mix of garden soil and sand would work best for these plants???


    1. Hey Jacki,
      I am actually a little bit familiar with the Lake Wateree area, you don't have red clay, you have RED CLAY!!! LOL
      I often wondered how anything grew up there.
      Have you also considered raised beds?
      Railroad ties make a good edging, you could go two high, nailing them together and fill that area with good garden soil.
      Please, keep me/us informed of your progress.
      Either way, glad I could help!

  4. Are your raspberries still producing? Did last year's rains help or hurt?
    I'm in West Ashley and thinking about planting some of my own, but am fearful they won't produce like the ones I had growing up outside of Chicago.

    1. They did okay last year. The rains helped a little. I think they will do much better this year, do to the cold weather we have had.
      I am going to be perfectly blunt, please, do not expect them to be like the ones you had in Chicago, you will be totally disappointed!
      They do okay here. People that have not really experienced northern grown Raspberries, don't know what they are missing, so these will be good to them. They are under the opinion that they will not grow at all here. This article was to show they they will at least grow some.

  5. Hi Darren,
    I sure miss my Vermont Respberries grew them I the hills of Jericho,VT was old farm Land.
    I had Picked Like 60 or more qts. per yr. in the fall every year.
    I have been in North Augusta ,Sc ten years now but have not done well with them here at all.

    Blue berries do better. Sumer squash I can,t get to grow .
    It seems what ever I do not want to grow here ----grows great.,
    but what I want fights me ever inch of the garden.

  6. I didn't know you couldn't grow red raspberries here, near Columbia, so I bought and planted some two years ago. They were great the first year but this year they are not as vigorous as they were last year. I had built a little building for the irrigation piping and programmable timer, in the shape of an out-house, using 100 year old barn wood. It looks authentic. L Sloping roof and moon cut into the door etc. L Anyway, The raspberry bushes migrated themselves to the South side of that building, out of the sun. In that area they are doing very well. Actually a couple canes are growing in the near dark inside the outhouse. LOL

    1. I am surprised they didn't do real well this year. Mine are looking great, probably due to the wicked Winter we just had. Thanks for the interesting story and idea Al.

  7. Oh the black raspberries we grew in Missouri when I was growing up--and my mother made jam and called it
    "black gold". Soooo good. Here in Georgia, I've had great luck with a all summer-bearing red raspberry, would love to try a black. I might actually try your idea of containers and the east sun!

  8. That's interesting, because I found some growing wild near Lake Moultrie yesterday.