Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Propagating Raspberries - Root Cuttings

As a gardener, one of the saddest aspects about moving is having to leave behind some of your edible perennials. In my case, it was my raspberries and asparagus that hit me the hardest. A couple of years ago, I'd planted a small patch of raspberries, an everbearing variety that produces large dark red berries, which are VERY sweet and among the best I've ever tasted. What I especially like about this one is that it produces a fall crop on its first-year canes and then a smaller summer one on the same canes before they are pruned away. When we moved, I told myself that I would plant it again once we were settled into another home for the long term (which probably won't be for at least another couple of years).

Then it hit me the other day - instead of buying new canes, why not try to propagate the ones that were already growing in my old garden. Last week, while I was in Massachusetts, I decided to take some root cuttings. It seemed like the perfect time to do so since the canes were still dormant yet the soil was now frost-free (despite the fact that the only time I could do this was at night and in this case, during the early hours of a snow storm when there was already 3 inches of snow on the ground).

As I surveyed my raspberry patch, what I was looking for was a sucker cane as these would yield the longest roots (or more accurately - rhizomes). I found one such cane located two feet away from the original plants. When I dug it up from the ground, I came away with two rhizomes that each measured a foot long - part of one that had connected it to the mother plant and another that would have gone on to produce other suckers. This was an exciting find for sure. From these, I took eight 3-inch root cuttings.

This past weekend, Jonathan and I planted up the cuttings in small pots, which we covered with a plastic dome and set in a warm spot in the green room. With a little luck, at least some of them should go on to sprout in about a month. As they get larger, I'll transplant them into larger pots and hopefully find a permanent home for them in a couple of years.

I'm planning on taking a few more cuttings during the next week or two as I'd like to end up with enough starts to fill a large patch.


  1. Great idea! Looking forward to see how this works out. Do keep us updated.

  2. Brilliant! Cold on the hands I bet, but brilliant!

  3. Wow I never would have thought of that. As Jody said -"Brilliant".

  4. Great idea Thomas! I can just see you in the dark in a snow storm digging up those roots! The things us gardeners do!

  5. Very interesting idea.. Will have to try it on mine as I'd like to spread them around the property borderline.

  6. I never understand first year, second year stuff.
    I think I understand sucker, but not really.
    I sure hope I'm cut out for this gardening stuff.

    Anyway, good luck! I hope they all give you plants. I love raspberries and blueberries more than strawberries and blackberries. :)

  7. I too, would love to hear how the propagation turns out. How much soil did you cover the root segments in?
    For LindaG, here's an excellent short video on raspberry pruning from Penn State Extension. It helped me understand my raspberries much better.

    1. Hi Sue - I covered with about a half inch of potting mix.

  8. What a fantastic idea! It is sad to leave the plants behind when moving. You spend so much time gardening that it's sad to leave them

  9. What variety of raspberry is it?

  10. Maybe some tips from My Tiny Plot blog (Propagating - Raspberry Cane) could be useful. Instead of using rhizomes, what about give a try on its cane?... wish you Good Luck!...

  11. I'm really curious to see how this turned out. Do you have an update? Thank you!