When Mike first bought our house there was a small raspberry jungle growing in the backyard. The canes (which we assume were initially planted in some sort of orderly fashion) had been left to their natural tendencies for a number of years and were threatening to overtake an increasingly large and unruly portion of the yard. The first spring after we were married, I tackled the job of restoring some order by transplanting all of the canes into a row along the fence, creating a much more manageable and accessible patch (and a much more pleasant berry picking experience).
We completed the project last spring by adding a wire support fence to keep the berry-heavy canes off the ground, and of course rounding out our “fruit garden” with the addition of the strawberry plants along the front edge.
Aside from picking the berries, this set up really leaves just one big job each year: dealing with the new shoots that pop up outside of the designated area. Raspberry canes tolerate transplanting quite well, so it’s simply a matter of moving them into a more desirable place.
The new raspberry canes start out pretty delicate as they first emerge from the ground, so as soon as I see the first signs of them, I stay out of the patch until it appears that all of the new canes have broken through the ground and are at least a few inches tall. The canes can be transplanted at any size, but I’ve had the best success when I’ve waited to transplant them when they are in the 6 – 12 inch range. Smaller canes will do better in the long run when they can benefit from a little more time feeding from the “parent” plant’s roots, and larger canes will need more time and water to over come the stress of transplanting.
When digging up raspberry canes for transplanting, make sure to dig about 4 inches or so from the plant on all sides and at least 6 inches deep. The roots are usually pretty close to the surface, but digging too close to the cane (or not deep enough) can result in completely severing the root system from the plant and the loss of the cane. Firmly cut through the roots and gently lift the cane and surrounding soil from the ground.
If possible, pop the entire thing (roots and surrounding dirt) out as one unit and transfer it into a prepared hole of the same size. If the soil is loose enough that the roots become bare, just be sure to take care that the roots are spread out and well covered at the same depth in the new hole. Be sure to give each prepared hole a good drink of water before the transplants even go in–this is key to keeping the stress of transplanting to a minimum.
Transplanted raspberry canes need to be watered very well for the first week or so until they have recovered from the shock and stress of transplanting and have resumed growing on their own. Immediately after transplanting give the ground around them a good soaking and follow up with a good daily watering for about a week. Keep an eye on them during the first several days, especially if the weather is exceptionally warm or dry. If the leaves look limp or wilted between waterings, give them another good soaking. After several days of watering, they should start to show signs of adjusting to their new location. At this time I still keep an eye on them for signs of stress, but start reducing the number of waterings until the canes are established.
For the past couple of years, I’ve simply transplanted the new canes into open spaces in the existing patch, but after this year’s new canes were moved, it appears that I am starting to reach maximum capacity. Next year I’ll have to move some of these extra canes into pots and keep them well watered until I can find a new home for them. My local friends and family can consider this your notice to get on my list if you would like some raspberry canes next spring!