Raspberry plants benefit from annual care and maintenance, including a nice feeding with a high-quality balanced fertilizer. Here are some raspberry fertilizer basics to help you ensure your berry plants are getting the nutrients they need to thrive:
- Choose a high-quality organic fertilizer formulated for berry plants;
- Apply the fertilizer to the top of the soil in early spring;
- Apply only the amount of fertilizer to the raspberries as recommended on the package;
- Water the raspberries after feeding.
There’s a few important considerations when it comes to raspberry fertilizer. Read on to learn all about feeding your raspberry plants.
Raspberry Fertilizer Options
Raspberries grow well when fed with a gentle, balanced organic fertilizer. I look for organic-approved products (OMRI-Listed) when possible, and also consider the sources of the nutrients. Most quality all-purpose fertilizers will help counteract any soil nutrient deficiencies. For specific insight into which nutrients are lacking, try a soil test to identify deficiencies of available nutrients.
Here are some fertilizer options for feeding raspberry plants:
When To Fertilize Raspberries
Raspberry plants are best fertilized in early spring. The window for fertilizing raspberries starts once the coldest days of winter have passed. Fertilizing the plants just before they come out of winter dormancy is very common. Some gardeners will feed them several times in the spring, in accordance with the instructions listed on the individual fertilizer used.
Raspberry plants are generally not fed with fertilizer products once the plants start flowering and the berries start to form. At this point, the plant should likely be focussing on producing a berry crop with the energy it already has stored. That said, a thin top-dressing of homemade compost can be applied at pretty much any point in the season. Compost will give a subtle nutrient boost hopefully without stimulating the plant to grow a bunch of new sprouts and leaves (but few berries).
“Nutrient availability from soils tends to be greatest early in the growing season when (1) warming of soils or the coming of rains brings a flush of nutrients into the rhizosphere, (2) microbes that compete with roots for soil nutrients are just beginning to recover from the dormancy of winter or the dry season, and (3) new plant roots explore virgin soil. Plants obtain a substantial portion of their mineral nutrients during this time.”Mineral Nutrition of Plants: Principles and Perspectives, by Emanuel Epstein and Arnold J. Bloom
“But make sure not to fertilize once the berries have started forming, as added nitrogen will stimulate leaf growth, not fruit. Commercial growers divide their spring fertilizer application into three portions – applying once when the new green shoots begin to appear, a second time a month later (usually May), and a third application a month after that (roughly end of June or early July).”Growing Berries and Fruit Trees in the Pacific Northwest: How to Grow Abundant, Organic Fruit in Your Backyard, by Tara Austen Weaver
Thing To Avoid When Feeding Raspberries
Avoid Weed & Feed products and other herbicides when feeding or otherwise caring for raspberries. These plants are prone to chemical damage and can be easily harmed by products meant to target weeds and other unwanted plants. Pull out any competing weeds by hand or cover them (rather than using chemical means).
“Raspberries are particularly sensitive to herbicides and especially glyphosate (the active ingredient in formulas such as Roundup). Even using it elsewhere in the garden runs the risk of drift and damage – or death – to your berry canes.”Growing Berries and Fruit Trees in the Pacific Northwest: How to Grow Abundant, Organic Fruit in Your Backyard, by Tara Austen Weaver
More Plant Care Considerations When Feeding Raspberries
While you’re feeding raspberries in early spring, it can also be a good time for some other raspberry plant care. Early spring is a great time to prune raspberries, clear away any overwintered plant debris, and perform any maintenance on your raspberry trellis structure. Early spring is also a great time to shop for new raspberry plants, as the selection is best in the garden centers at this time of year. Here is a list of the best-tasting types of raspberries to plant in your yard!