Propagating Raspberries from Primocanes
Propagating Raspberries is a “how to” on propagating raspberries from suckers of the original mother plant, also known as primocanes.
This cultivar of raspberry is what is known as a primocane. That means that it actually bears fruit twice in one year. The first fruiting happens in late spring or very early summer, which is when most other raspberries fruit. The second fruiting starts happening in the August timeframe and continues up until the first frost.
A raspberry sucker is a new plant that pops up from the root, sometimes many feet away from the original plant. This is actually just the first-year cane, known as primocane, that is coming up and is a natural part of how raspberries grow.
While raspberries are considered perennial and the root system is, the canes are actually biennale. The cane comes up and is called a primocane the first year, the second year it is called the floricane, and the third year it is a spent cane or basically a dead cane.
So, by taking the primocane suckers, you are limiting the size of the bush. This could be a good thing, but you do not want to take too much, or you could end up wiping your bush out.
The suckers I take are usually the ones growing out into the lawn. Occasionally I’ll grab one from closer to the main plant, but for the most part I’ll leave the area that I have mulched alone.
Digging Suckers Up
The way I dig the suckers up is by shoving a shovel in the soil about six inches away from the plant that I’m propagating. I make a circle around the plant with a shovel and then reach in with my hands and separate the soil from the roots. Be careful to not break the cane off of the root. When you should end up with is a cane that goes down and “T”s into a horizontal root. You really want at least four inches of the horizontal root.
Trim the Leaves
Now you have to match the leaves to the roots. By that, I mean you need to trim the leaves and you will leave more leaves if you have more roots. Raspberries have three leaflets to a leave and I generally leave about one leaflet set for each inch of horizontal root. So, if I have 4-inches of horizontal root that I dug up, I’ll leave four leaflets on the top side and cut the rest away.
Trimming the leaves matches the energy and water supply capability to what the roots can supply. If you leave to many leaves, the plant will wilt and could die, because the roots cannot supply the leaves with enough water. The leaves have something known as transporation that happens to them, which is similar to us perspiring. Transporation is really the plants losing water to the atmosphere. If they transpire more than they have water, then they will wilt and if they go too far, they will dry out and not recover.
Pot the Plant
After the cane is dug up and the top trimmed, I put it in a pot. I put some soil down in the bottom of the pot, put the plant in, then cover the roots with soil. You want to get the level right, so eyeball it until you get good with the process. You want the plant buried in the soil so that the brown part of the stem is in the soil and the green part of the stem is out of the soil.
Water and Shade
Now that the plant is cut out, trimmed, and in the pot, you want to water it. Give the soil enough water so that it is thoroughly moist and continue to water for the next couple of weeks. The frequency of watering is going to depend on the type of soil you used and on the climate you are in. You don’t want the soil to completely dry out, but you don’t want it to be a marshy mess either.
Now put the plants in the SHADE for a few weeks. An hour or two of dappled sunshine is ok, just don’t put them in the full-on sun. After a few weeks, you can move them into more and more sun. You want shade to slow down the transporation process that we talked about earlier.
Directly into the Ground
If you are going to put the plants directly into their new home and not into a pot, then you are likely going to put them into full sun. In order to not kill the plants due to too much transporation, you will have to cut more of the leaves on the top off. Maybe leave one leaflet set for each three inches of horizontal root. Again, you will have to see what works for your climate.
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