Your ultimate caneberry guide for growing and caring for raspberries and blackberries, my favorite varieties, plus LOTS of fresh berry recipes and ways to preserve them for winter.
This Ultimate Caneberry Guide is a part of this week’s Tuesdays In The Garden, with a theme of DIY & How-Tos. At the end of this guide, you’ll find links for how to grow roses, strawberries, and more. Enjoy!
Of all the fruits you can grow easily in your backyard garden, my favorites are caneberries. Caneberries are simply a word used to describe berries that grow on long canes that need to be trellised (mostly) and include blackberries, raspberries, and crosses like Loganberries and Western Oregon’s beloved Marionberry.
Not only are blackberries and raspberries so delicious you almost can’t believe it (yep, uber-fan here, but sun-ripend berries? To.die.for.), a couple of $4 plants (or free starts if you’re lucky) can provide you with summer-long fruit, saving you heaps compared with the small $4-5 packages in the stores.
As if that weren’t enough (it is, I promise) all caneberries are full of antioxidants, vitamins (especially C), and are a good sources of fiber. Can I start a caneberry fan club or something? How about I just urge you to grow some? You won’t be sorry, and luckily there are varieties that grow in zones from 5-10 so almost everywhere in the states can grow a caneberry or two (or ten….). With the basic care and pruning like you’ll find in this ultimate caneberry guide, they will produce almost indefinitely for you. (How many #wins is that – I’ve lost count!). Some links in this article are affiliate links and if you click on them I will receive a small commission at no cost to you – thanks for your support!
Ultimate Caneberry Guide: Plant & grow
Types and Varieties of Caneberries
All caneberries bear fruit on two-year-old wood, except the ‘everbearing’ (which isn’t really fruiting all the time, but refers to two crops a season) and erect varieties which also fruit on first year growth. They are self-fruiting and are pollinated by bees.
Raspberries grow best in relatively cool, marine climates – in valley climates it’s best to give them some afternoon shade. Note! Raspberries have invasive roots and will spread unless contained by borders or pulled in the spring.
There are two types of raspberries:
- Summer-bearing red raspberries produce a large crop June through July.
- Fall-bearing (also called Everbearing) red varieties that produce a small crop in spring and a larger crop in the fall (they’ve produced in my garden until the frost killed them – it’s wonderful to get fresh raspberries in late October!).
Favorite Raspberry Varieties
Canby: a summer-bearing, large, good flavored, firm, and juicy berry developed at Oregon State University that bears a lot in a 1-2 month period.
Heritage: probably the top fall/everbearing raspberry in the US. It produces a small June crop with a heavier crop in fall. The canes that do not need staking, maturing at 3-8 feet tall and 4-8 feet wide.
Queen Ann: a sweet golden raspberry that has an incredible flavor and grows on everbearing type canes.
Fall Gold: another golden raspberry with an amazing flavor that produces in July and then late August through frost on canes that are productive and adaptable to various soils.
There are also black raspberries (yes, they’re different than blackberries), which are a little more wild growing on long canes that spread, and purple raspberries – a cross of red and black raspberries – that produce on upright canes that do not spread by root runners. I haven’t grown either of these, but apparently ‘Royalty’ is the best variety and after researching I really want to try it!
Triple Crown: these are my hands-down favorite blackberries to grow. They are a thornless, erect variety that can produce up to 20 pounds of intensely flavored gigantic berries for months! Read my 5 Reasons To Grow Triple Crown Thornless Blackberries for more info.
Black Satin and Ollalie: two other thornless, erect varieties to try – I love the easy of picking this type of berry!
Marionberry: this trailing, thorny berry is the queen of the Northwest with a unique flavor and large berry. The canes can get up to 30 feet long, and root and sucker, so they do need a lot of pruning and training.
Boysenberry: a trailing thornless berry that is another classic Westcoast caneberry. A result of crossing blackberries and raspberries. They are sweet-tart and can be grown in zones 6-9. I did have problems with a fungal growth on the canes, which weren’t on any other berries planted nearby, except the wild berries along the fence line.
How to Grow Caneberries
- You can plant dormant, bare-root berries four to six weeks before your last frost, and container-grown plants as early in the spring as your garden allows.
- Plant bushes 6 feet apart in rows that are at least 8 feet apart. Amend the soil with compost and cover with 2-4 inches of mulch. Water the plants after you put them into the ground to settle them into the soil.
- All caneberries will benefit from a simple trellis. For long summer-bearing canes, I just string 2 wires between two end posts of 4-by-4s made from cedar or other rot-resistant wood. With “erect” canes (that can get long and fall over when heavy with fruit) make a box of 2-3 wires strung at 3 and 5 feet to help keep the fruit off the ground. This berry tee-pee I saw is also a clever option.
- Keep all berry beds weed free – I use paper and a strong mulch like straw or wood chips. Give them 1 inch of water a week, deeply at the roots with a soaker hose or drip system. Keep consistently watered, at least 1 to 2 inches per week.
- Fertilize in early spring for, top-dressing canes with composted manure or organic granular fertilizer for the best growth.
Yes, you can grow caneberries in containers! Select a sunny spot with at least 6 hours of sun each day, use a large pot (at least 18×18 inches deep and wide) and be sure there is good drainage.
In areas that experience cold winters, place the canes on the ground and cover with a heavy layer of mulch to protect from the cold. In spring after the danger of a freeze has passed, lift the canes and reattach them to your trellis.
- The Backyard Homestead
- How to Grow More Vegetables (and Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops)
- Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre
Harvest (& Prune)
After a couple years (it usually takes 2 years to produce fruit) you should get a great harvest, with more in the following years. You may have to protect the berries from birds – try these scare tactics that worked well for me or bird netting.
Caneberries are ready to pick when they are fully colored, plump, and fall easily from the branch. They should be picked every 2 to 4 days. Collect them in the early morning, they’ll store longer. Berries will keep in the refrigerator for about 1 week.
You can prune the tip sections of both types in spring (and even summer as needed), reducing the height of the canes to four or five feet. This will encourage bigger berries, allows for easier picking, and keeps the canes in check.
Summer-bearing canes: once you have harvested the summer-bearing raspberries and blackberries, remove the only the spent canes during at ground level (first-year stems have green canes and second-year stems have a thin brown bark). They will not fruit again and it helps prevent disease provides for new growth.
Fall/Everbearing, erect canes: simply cut the entire patch to the ground after they’ve died back completely or in early spring before you see any buds.