Original Entry – May 22, 2016
Update #1 – July 23, 2017
(Minor Update #2 – May 1, 2018 – Plant survived a second outdoor winter – growing leaves on the floricanes and growing new primocanes too!)
(Minor Update #3 – March 25, 2019 – had to replace some broken links)
(Please note that Brazelberries – the company that distributed the Raspberry Shortcake plant through 2016 – was bought out and the name was changed names to Bushel and Berry. The new website does not have all of the same information the former website had, so I apologize if I reference some information you can’t find on the new website.)
I will preface this post by saying I’m a VERY amateur gardener. I do enjoy planting things, but it is generally not very well thought out. I became interested in trying to grow my own raspberries when I saw the bare root canes for sale at my local Home Depot. I did try to plant one of the canes (Heritage by Van Zyverden) but it doesn’t seem to be doing anything. After doing some research on recommended raspberry types, I figured I would check my local nursery to see if they had any of the popular raspberry plants.
They didn’t have any of the cultivars that I was hoping to find, but they did have a very nice looking plant labeled “Raspberry Shortcake”. What appealed to me is the label claimed it is a miniature / dwarf raspberry plant that can be grown in a pot, as opposed to having to plant it in the ground. Also, it would not involve any trellis or other supports, and finally, it has no thorns which will make picking it more fun for the kids. I often prefer growing in pots because they keep the rabbits away, and I currently have more full sun space on my patio sitting wall than I have full sun exposure where I want to rip up my lawn. As I always do when I am making an important purchase, I searched Google for feedback. I found the Bushel and Berry website that grows / distributes the Raspberry Shortcake plant and everything sounds great on the website, but I know the manufacturer is going to do their best to sell their product. I found a few websites selling the plants by mail for up to $80, and I found a brief forum discussion about the plants. Unfortunately there wasn’t any real useful feedback that I found at that point. I thought it was interesting that some people referred to it as a “yuppie” plant, being expensive for a raspberry plant. I thought about how much money I’ve spent on plants, pots, soil, etc, and that I am not that far from a yuppie demographic. I definitely am stingy about not wasting money on most things, but in the end, $30 for a plant that can maybe solve some of my concerns with growing raspberries would be worth the expense.
I got the plant home and here’s a picture of how it looked in the 2 gallon pot it came in. I think it is a nice looking plant even separate from the raspberries, but the raspberries are the main reason I got it. I asked at the nursery what I can do to help it survive the winter time. She suggested that she would plant it in the ground, but that defeats the whole purpose of buying a plant that can grow raspberries in a pot. She said other options would be burying the pot in the soil for the winter. She said the snow is actually a good thing for the plant as it acts as insulation. The other suggestion was moving it into a garage for the winter. That was an interesting idea as I didn’t know you could do that. She said the leaves will be gone at that point and the plant will essentially be dormant.
I looked at the website and found a growing guide (which is unfortunately now removed). I was specifically looking to see what size pot I should move it into. They basically suggest the largest possible pot as the canes will fill in any empty space, suggesting pots up to 24-36 inches. I went to Home Depot to get a new pot and found these great giant pots, probably more than 24 inches, for $20. I then realized that I would need a ton (not literally) of potting soil. If I ever decided I wanted to bury the pot for the winter, I’d have a hard time moving it. I decided it would make more sense to just try to find a place to bury the plant than to put it in a pot that can’t be moved.
After putting in more thought (because that’s what I do), I decided on a more moderate sized (but still large) pot that is around 18 inches. It still took about 1.5 cubic feet of soil, plus the original plant, to fill it. I bought cheap potting soil from the local Ace Hardware that was on sale. Unlike most potting soil I’ve used, this soil was pretty dense, with more of a mud consistency. It seemed more like garden soil, but is clearly labelled as potting soil. Hopefully slow draining soil won’t be an issue. The picture to the left is of the plant after moving it into the new pot. It is about as big as I’d want to lug to an empty spot in the back yard to bury for the winter.
So, aside from the appealing features of no thorns and able to grow in a pot, there are two very important features which I couldn’t get a clear answer. First is taste. Second is ability to survive the winter in a pot. I’ve since tried to find a good answer. Surprisingly, there are not a lot of clear posts online about taste. Some reported they taste good, someone else reported returning it after tasting the raspberries. I found some reviews on Amazon for the raspberry shortcake plant, (this link to currently available plant on Amazon) and they are all very positive (5 star reviews). Interestingly, people do report the plants survived the winter, in the pots. Hopefully, I’ll have as much luck. If the raspberries taste decent, I’ll be sure to bury the pot to give it the best chance of surviving. One reviewer on Amazon reported the raspberries tasted good. I really hope I will get to experience that this summer. I will update this post when I have more to report. As I’m not a huge raspberry eater, I’ll have some other people taste them to try to get an accurate report on the taste. Meanwhile, I’ve gotten enough of an interest that I am pretty sure I’ll wind up planting a few real raspberry bushes in the ground. I am trying to decide which type of raspberry to plant, but that’ll be another post if I have time.
I noticed some white flowers showing up not long after I moved the plant to a larger pot. Here is what the white flowers look like:
Yesterday I noticed some different looking white buds near the white flowers. They almost look like they could be raspberries:
Update June 12:
Lots of berries growing, but not ripe enough to pick.
Update 7/4/16 – We’ve had about 8 ripe to almost ripe berries over the last few days. The majority have been described as yummy and sweet by my daughter who has a hard time waiting until they are fully ripe. I’m guessing that may be why some taste a little sour. The ones she describes as sweet she says are better than the store bought Driscolls. So, overall I’d say it is a success so far. There seem to be maybe another dozen raspberries growing. The only downside seems to be that there aren’t more berries. Here’s a picture of the most perfectly shaped berry that I think my daughter picked just a little too early as she said it was a little sour. I’ve tasted a few (had to sneak them when my daughter didn’t see and before she picked them) and I’d agree with her. Some are sweet and just a little tart. Others are more tart which may be what she is calling sour.
Unless the plant starts producing significantly more berries than what we have now, or if the taste of the remaining berries isn’t good, I probably won’t post an update until either I prepare it for winter, or until spring to see how it did over the winter.
I never did prepare the plant for the winter, leaving it out on my back patio. The plant appears to have survived fine! The winter was relatively mild this past winter for the midwest, but we did get snow and most of the winter was below freezing temperatures. Around March 25, 2017, I started to see some little primocanes coming up from the soil. On March 31, 2017, I also saw some green leaves starting to grow on the floricanes (second year stems). Over the past 3 weeks, there are now multiple primocanes coming up from the soil and the floricanes are starting to form more leaves. See some pictures below.
As of April 15, 2017, everything seems to be growing quite quickly. I can’t wait to see how many raspberries I’ll get this year. I’m not sure if I just got lucky that the plant survived the winter without any special preparation or if this plant could survive even harsher winters.
As the berries came in, the floricanes did lean completely against the side of the pot, but they still seemed to produce well without damaging the plant. The raspberries ripened around the last week of June and kept producing for the first two weeks of July. During that time, there were probably 5-10 berries a day that were ready to be picked. They were medium sized and had a typical raspberry taste. Most people seemed to like them. Around July 10 we had some relatives over and the kids picked the plant pretty bare. There were probably more than 20 berries picked that day and the kids loved them.
As of July 23, 2017, there are a few berries left, but it seems the floricanes are done producing. Over the season, I’d say my plant yielded more than 120 berries. The taste was pretty good. Being thornless and in a pot sitting on a ledge, the plant is perfect for kids to pick. I didn’t seem to have any major issues with birds eating the berries like I did with my Joan J. I also didn’t notice any insects eating the leaves like my raspberry canes I planted in the ground last year. I’m tempted to try transplanting a few of the canes into another pot as this one is really full. I don’t know if the primocanes are small because I am growing them in a pot, or if there just isn’t enough space. I also need to decide if I’ll take my chances with leaving the pot outside for the winter again.
Overall, I have been extremely pleased with this plant. It has been much less of a burden to grow than the raspberry canes in the ground, and has produced as much or more in a fraction of the space. Hopefully next year will be just as good. I may do another update later this summer to comment on the size of the primocanes, as they will hopefully get much bigger than they are now.