Picking Raspberries

Ripe red raspberries are dark pink to deep red. Raspberries also come in a variety of other colors including black, purple, and yellow/gold. Color when ripe will depend on which type you plant.To harvest, grip the berry very lightly with two fingers (they are easily crushed) and pull gently. If they are ready they will pretty much fall off in your hand. If they don’t, leave them for another day.

Although most raspberry bushes have thorns, I don’t recommend wearing gloves because the berries are so fragile. Long sleeves, however can help protect your arms from scratches.

Unlike blackberries, raspberries leave their hard, white center on the plant so all you get is rich, juicy sweetness.


Plant Profile: Raspberries

It’s June and in Northern California, that means the start of raspberry season. The local berry farms have opened for picking and the stores are full of ripe, red beauties.

This past weekend I did my first ever raspberry picking from a friend’s raspberry patch. There are few things more sweetly satisfying than fresh berries straight from the vine. And the good news is, it isn’t that hard to grow your own. Check out the stats below to see if raspberries might be a good fit for your garden.

Common name: Raspberry
Scientific name: Rubus idaeus
Family: Rosaceae
Origin: Eurasia
Type: Shrub
Exposure: Full sun (may also fruit in light shade in hottest areas)
Height: 4-6′
Width: 3-5′
Growth rate: Fast
Water: Regular
Zones: 3-8
Foliage color: Green
Flower color: White
Edible: Berries
Harvest: Summer-bearing raspberries, throughout the summer; fall-bearing varieties, in fall and summer the following year — consider planting summer and fall-bearing varieties together to extend your season
Propagation: Greenwood cuttings, division
WARNING: Most raspberry bushes have thorns. Try a thornless variety for easier harvest.

A few other quick notes on raspberries:

  • Raspberries do require room to spread, so they are probably not the best choice for small space container gardening.  (I did manage a thornless boysenberry in a pot once, but got very little fruit.)
  • Raspberries do require annual pruning to maintain size and to ensure the most bountiful harvest. The timing and type of pruning varies for summer and fall-bearing varieties (more on that in a separate article).
  • To keep bushes neat, minimize disease and make havesting easier, build a berry trellis.

Learn more about raspberries.