The Q&A Archives: Tips for Growing Raspberries in VA

Question: Is it possible to grow raspberries in a hot humid climate? My family is from the Seattle area, and every time we visit, I get to taste homegrown raspberries, that many friends and family grow. I attempted to grow my own here in Virginia last year, and they never came up, I had one leaf on one of 5 stalks, but it died in a few days. I watered daily, but maybe that was not enough? How much water do raspberries need? Is it better to water small amounts several times a day, or more less frequently? My mother thinks I'm crazy, she doesnt think its possible to grow raspberries in Virginia!! Any advice would be appreciated. Joel Nylund Herndon, VA

Answer: Although raspberries prefer a cooler climate, it seems like you should be able to find a variety and a site where they will grow, if not flourish. Raspberries like a humus-rich, well-drained soil. They need to be kept moist, especially at fruiting time. They are shallow-rooted, and therefore need to be watered often. A good rule of thumb is to figure that they need an inch of rain a week -- so if the weather doesn't supply this, you'll have to water. A good soaking twice a week should be plenty-- a soaker hose is great for this. Don't overwater, though. Raspberries do not like saturated soil, so if your soil is heavy clay your daily watering may have been too much. Mulching plants helps conserve moisture and keep roots cool. A soil rich inorganic matter will hold water much better than a sandy soil, so it pays to take some time in preparing the bed to add lots of compost, shredded leaves, grass clippings, etc. Raspberries take a few years to gather their strength and begin producing. If you plan to purchase new plants, be sure to get virus-free stock, and ask your supplier about varieties appropriate for your region.

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