Simple to grow with an excellent flavor that’s generally more sweet than tart, yellow raspberries are a type of specialty berry well worth adding to your garden. I have a new garden where my husband and I dug out invasive lily-of-the-valley and daylilies that I want to put to better use. My vision is a collection of berry bushes, including yellow raspberry varieties, because they are hardy and survive our cold winters.
Different varieties produce berries ripening to a range of golden shades. These brightly colored fruits are perfect for making head-turning tarts, cobblers, and pies. Besides their unusual hues, yellow raspberries—also known as gold raspberries or goldens—have fewer seeds than blackberries or black raspberry varieties do. That means they also work well in homemade jellies, jams, sorbets, and ice cream.
What’s so special about yellow raspberries?
Fresh blackberries, blueberries, and red raspberries are already in high demand at most farmers’ markets. Because they’re much rarer and visually striking, yellow raspberries get snapped up even more quickly. Yellow raspberries are unique because they’re missing the chemical components responsible for the deep purple-blacks and reds we normally see in popular varieties like Bristol Black Raspberry and Boyne Red Raspberry. Their dark coloring comes from flavonoid compounds called anthocyanins.
Thanks to a naturally occurring genetic hiccup, some red raspberry plants produced variants containing greatly reduced amounts of anthocyanins. In the absence of these usually dominant compounds, other chemical pigments like beta-carotene took center stage. The result? Berries in lemon-yellow, warm apricot, and even some orangey tones. Over the years, professional growers have worked to cross different varieties to create stable yellow raspberry cultivars.
Golden raspberry varieties
There are two kinds of yellow raspberry varieties. One-crop-per-season types are called “summer-bearing” or “floricane-bearing.” Varieties producing two harvests per season are called “everbearing,” “fall-bearing,” or “primocane-bearing.”
Yellow raspberries produce biennial woody stalks or canes from perennial crowns. During the first year of their biennial lifecycle, the initial canes are called primocanes. During their second year, those first-year canes break dormancy to become second-year floricanes.
Some raspberry plants will only bear fruit on a floricane. These produce one summer crop. By contrast, everbearing or fall-bearing yellow raspberries bear fruit on both cane types, providing two harvests. Typically by late June or July, they’ll set fruit on their (second-year) floricanes. Then, by August or September, they fruit along their primocane growth until the first frost.
- Large, sweet, golden-yellow berries
- Hardy to USDA hardiness zone 4 or 5
- Mature height of 5 to 6 feet
- Soft, peach-tinted berries are low-acid and honey-sweet
- Somewhat shade-tolerant and hardy to USDA zone 3
- Reaches 5 to 6 feet
- Difficult to source in U.S., but widely available in Canada
- Large, sweet, pink-champagne-colored berries
- Hardy to zone 4 or 5
- Reaches 5 to 6 feet
- Large, pale yellow berries are mild and very sweet
- Heat-tolerant and hardy to zone 4
- Reaches 4 to 6 feet
- Bright yellow berries are firm, sweet, and slightly tart
- Hardy to zone 3 or 4
- Reaches about 5 feet
Where to grow yellow raspberries
Yellow raspberries perform best in fertile, well-drained soil and full sun. However knowing where to grow yellow raspberry plants is also about knowing where not to grow them. For instance, if the area you have in mind recently contained nightshade veggies like tomatoes or potatoes, you’d better pick a different spot. (Raspberries are susceptible to some of the same pathogens that affect nightshades.)
Have wild or cultivated blackberries growing nearby? Give them a wide berth, as well. Blackberries are prone to aphid infestations, which are themselves disease vectors. Finally, don’t plant too close to any current vegetable gardens or your favorite flower beds—raspberry plants can easily overrun a garden if left unchecked.
Can you grow golden raspberries in a pot?
You can grow golden raspberries in large containers with good drainage. To maximize your harvest, plant an everbearing variety in a pot that’s at least two feet deep. Use potting soil that is well-draining, and rich in organic matter.
Once you’ve potted up your live plant or bare root stock, allow its primocanes to grow to about 24 inches (61 cm) high. Then, prune to keep things compact. Identify five to eight of the thickest primocanes to keep and snip off the rest. Keep tabs on new primocanes that pop up—particularly any trying to escape the bounds of your pot—and remove these accordingly. (The goal is to encourage your chosen primocanes to be as robust as possible, rather than dividing your container’s limited resources between multiple, weaker canes.)
Because containers can dry out quickly, pay close attention to the moisture levels in your pot.
When to plant yellow raspberries
Know where your raspberry patch will be in advance of acquiring plants? Give them—and yourself—a head start by preparing the area in the fall. As you prepare the area, mix aged compost or worm castings into the top 12 to 18 inches (30.5 to 45.5 cm) of soil. Then, you’ll be ready to plant your potted raspberries or bare root stock in very early spring.
How to plant the canes
If you’re planting bare root stock, dig a wide, shallow hole. Ideally, the plant crown will sit just an inch or two below soil level. (Placing it too deep may contribute to root rot.)
Gently position plant roots in the hole without crimping or forcing them to fit. Enlarge the hole’s width as needed. As you bury the roots, make sure they make good contact with the soil. Water them well. Then, trim back the planted canes to six or seven inches (15 to 17.5 cm).
If you have a potted raspberry, size the hole so that it fits the plant’s root ball and the potted plant’s soil line matches the garden’s soil line. Place the root ball in the hole, fill it in with soil, and water thoroughly.
Space individual plants at least two feet apart within the plating bed or row, and give at least six feet between multiple rows.
Pruning yellow raspberries
For summer-bearing plants, cut their spent floricanes down to the crown after harvesting. You’ll be left with primocanes—next season’s fruit-bearing floricanes. Keep about eight of the healthiest primocanes per plant, removing the extra, weaker primocanes. To finish, trim the tops of the primocanes you elected to keep, so that each is four to five feet tall.
With fall-bearers, you have two options. Want a light, spring crop and a fall harvest? Remove all spent floricanes after you harvest. Then, thin out the weakest primocanes, keeping about eight of the healthiest ones per plant. Trim only the dead tops of these, which already will have produced some berries during the fall. (More fruit will set along the remaining length of these canes next season.)
If you’d rather your fall-bearers produce solely in the fall, just cut each of the canes down. New primocanes—and their subsequent berries—will come roaring back next season.
Trellising golden raspberries
A good trellis safeguards against wind damage, keeps fruits off the ground, and makes harvesting easier. You can provide support for your plants with an even number of heavy metal stakes and some wire. To trellis a row of raspberries, place two stakes at each end—one stake at each corner of the row.
Next, string a series of wires between both sets of stakes in parallel along the length of the row. Your plants should be sandwiched between these wires. For long rows, you may need to add multiple pairs of stakes, wrapping the wire around these as you go.
Caring for the canes
Extra protection: When other food is scarce, hungry critters may munch on raspberry canes. Protect vulnerable new plants with cages made from hardware cloth or chicken wire.
Mulch: Mulching plant roots helps insulate them from frost damage in winter, and keeps them cool and moist during the summer. (Just avoid smothering delicate plant crowns.) Also, mulching between plants and rows reduces the need for weeding.
Food and water: Give plants a boost with an all-purpose organic fertilizer once canes have begun growing in the spring. During peak growing season, your plants will need about an inch (2.5 cm) of water per week.
Pests that may affect golden raspberry plants
Here are some of the most common golden raspberry insect pests and the trouble they cause:
- Japanese beetles and raspberry sawfly caterpillars transform leaves into lace.
- Spider mites and leaf hoppers cause curled, discolored foliage.
- Aphids cause stunted, weakened plants and are vectors for disease.
- Raspberry crown borers burrow into raspberry roots and crowns, stunting and weakening plant canes in the process.
- Raspberry cane borers devour raspberry canes from the inside, contributing to cane die-back.
- Overripe fruit attracts berry-eating yellow jackets, Asian lady beetles, fruit flies, tarnished plant bugs, and more.
The fix? Harvest berries regularly, discarding damaged and overripe fruit. And, for serious insect infestations, consider insecticidal soap or diatomaceous earth. (Just remember that these affect beneficial insects, too!)
Find more information about growing fruit in your garden
- How to transplant raspberry bushes
- When to fertilize blueberry bushes
- A guide to pruning blueberries
- Growing strawberries in raised beds
- Planting berries in containers
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