Growing and Pruning Raspberries in Colorado: A Comprehensive Guide

Raspberries are a delightful addition to any home garden, providing delicious fruit and vibrant foliage. In Colorado, only selected varieties of red and yellow raspberries are recommended due to the state’s unique climate. This guide covers everything from choosing the right varieties to effective pruning techniques, ensuring you enjoy a bountiful raspberry harvest.

Suitable Raspberry Varieties for Colorado

Red and Yellow Raspberries:

  • Best for general cultivation in Colorado.
  • Recommended varieties include summer-bearing types like ‘Nova’ and ‘Boyne,’ and fall-bearing types suitable for the Front Range and Western Slope.

Black Raspberries:

  • Hardy varieties such as Niwot and Pequot can thrive in some Colorado areas.

Other Varieties:

  • Blackberries, purple raspberries, boysenberries, loganberries, and dewberries require special winter protection and are less recommended.

Types of Raspberries

Summer-Bearing (Floricane):

  • Produce flowers and fruit on second-year canes.
  • Fruit once per season.

Fall-Bearing (Primocane or Everbearing):

  • Produce flowers and fruit on first-year canes.
  • Can provide two harvests: one in fall and a lighter one in summer on the lower parts of the canes.
Chart Provided by CSU Extension

Soil Preparation and Planting

Soil Requirements:

  • Well-drained garden soil rich in organic matter.
  • Conduct a soil test to determine nutrient needs, especially nitrogen, zinc, iron, and manganese.


  • Plant red and yellow raspberries as rooted suckers in spring.
  • Space plants 2-3 feet apart with rows 5-10 feet apart.
  • Cut tops to 4-6 inches above ground after planting.

Pruning Techniques

Red Raspberries:

  • Can be trained to a single stake or supported by horizontal wires 18” apart.
  • Freestanding canes should be headed back below 4.5 feet to prevent bending.

Black and Purple Raspberries:

  • Less vigorous and pruned heavily.
  • Often left freestanding.

General Pruning Tips:

  • Remove spent floricanes after fruiting to prevent disease.
  • In spring, remove dead, weak, and small canes.
  • For fall-bearing varieties, either mow all canes to ground level after harvest or remove the fruited cane parts, leaving the lower portions for summer fruit.

Trellising and Support

  • Trellising is advisable to keep canes erect and simplify harvesting.
  • Use wires 3 feet above ground to confine canes to the hedge row.
  • Larger fruit can be achieved by tipping canes at a convenient height.

Watering and Fertilization


  • Maintain moderate moisture in the root zone.
  • Increase watering during flowering and fruiting periods.
  • Withhold water after the first frost to harden off plants.


  • Apply nitrogen fertilizer as needed based on soil tests and cane growth.
  • Fall-bearing raspberries require more nitrogen than summer-bearing varieties.

Winter Protection

For Summer-Bearing Varieties:

  • Lay canes down and cover with soil or mulch after November 1.
  • Lift canes in early April and return the soil to the furrow.

For Fall-Bearing Varieties:

  • Mow canes after harvest to avoid winter damage.
  • If a summer crop is desired, protect canes similarly to summer-bearing types.

Yield and Longevity

  • Expect 15-20 pounds of fruit per year from a 25-foot hedge row by the third year.
  • Productivity may decline after 8-10 years, necessitating relocation of the raspberry bed.

Disease and Pest Management

Common Pests:

  • Spider mites, which can be managed by maintaining healthy, well-watered plants.
  • Raspberry cane borers, identified by wilting cane tips, can be controlled by removing affected canes.
  • Spotted wing drosophila, managed through refrigeration, cleanup of dropped fruit, and trapping.

Preventative Measures:

  • Purchase disease-free stock from reputable sources.
  • Regularly thin canes to improve light and air circulation.

By following these guidelines, you can successfully grow and enjoy raspberries in your Colorado garden. For more detailed information and expert advice, contact Echter’s Garden Center or refer to resources from Colorado State University Extension. Happy gardening!

Growing Blueberries: A Comprehensive Guide to Blueberry Care & Culture

Blueberry bushes are an excellent addition to both edible and ornamental landscapes. They not only produce delicious, nutritious fruit but also enhance the garden’s aesthetic with their glossy, deep green leaves in summer and vibrant scarlet foliage in autumn. Here’s how to successfully cultivate blueberries, particularly in regions like the Rocky Mountain West, where soil conditions may pose a challenge.

Essential Growing Conditions

To thrive, blueberries require well-drained, acidic soil (pH 4.5 – 5.5) rich in organic matter. They should be planted in part shade/shade locations and protected from harsh winter winds. Given that naturally acidic soil is rare in the Rocky Mountain region, consider the following methods to create suitable conditions:

  1. Soil Replacement: Remove existing soil from the planting area to a depth of two feet and replace it with a mix of 50% good commercial topsoil and 50% horticultural sphagnum peat moss. Adding extra compost is also beneficial.
  2. Container Planting: Use half a whiskey barrel or a large 20″ plastic pot with additional drainage holes. Fill with the soil mix mentioned above and sink the container into the ground.
  3. Raised Beds: Build a raised bed (3-4 feet wide and 8-12 inches high) using the same specialized soil mix.

Regularly test the soil’s pH using test kits available from Echter’s or other local garden centers.

Plant Care Tips

  • Mulching: Apply a layer of bark chips to conserve moisture, cool the roots, and suppress weeds.
  • Watering: Maintain continuous but moderate moisture throughout the growing season. Avoid over-watering by checking the soil’s top inch for moisture before watering.
  • Fertilization: Annually amend the soil with compost and regularly acidify with products like Ferti-lome Evergreen Food or Miracid. Start fertilizing in May, just before bloom, and continue as directed on the fertilizer label.
  • Pest and Disease Control: Insect problems are rare but can be managed with Malathion if necessary. To prevent fungal issues, water in the early morning and prune correctly.

Bird Control

Birds such as robins, finches, and starlings enjoy blueberries just as much as we do. To protect your crop, cover shrubs with Ross Garden Netting as berries begin to ripen, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Harvest and Storage

Blueberries are harvested from July through September. Store them in a refrigerator at 32-35°F to keep them fresh for 10-14 days. Fresh blueberries freeze well and maintain their taste, texture, and appearance for up to two years when stored at 0°F. Always freeze blueberries unwashed to preserve their natural protective coating. They can also be canned or processed into syrup.

Winter Protection

For best results, protect blueberry bushes during winter:

  • Apply 4-5 inches of bark mulch around the base in late November after the ground freezes. Remove the mulch in April.
  • Water during extended dry periods or when there’s no snow cover.
  • Stop fertilizing by the end of July to allow plants to harden off before winter.

Pruning Guide

Proper pruning is essential for healthy blueberry plants and optimal fruit production:

  • Establishment Years (First Two Years): Remove winter-killed and diseased wood. Prevent fruit setting to aid establishment by rubbing out flower buds in early spring.
  • First Pruning Year: Prune in early spring after the bush has been planted for two seasons. Remove diseased or dead wood and any crossing canes. Keep two or three healthy canes.
  • Second Through Fifth Years: Continue the same process each year, maintaining a goal of 12 healthy canes of different ages by the fifth year.
  • Maintenance Pruning (After Fifth Year): Maintain the bush at 12-15 canes, pruning out the oldest canes annually and leaving two or three new ones.

Pruning, along with proper soil pH, drip irrigation, and mulching, significantly impacts berry size and quality. Annual pruning ensures consistent, high-quality fruit production.

In summary, with the right care and attention, blueberry bushes can be a fruitful and beautiful part of your garden. By following these guidelines, you can enjoy bountiful harvests of delicious, nutritious blueberries year after year.

For more gardening tips and expert advice, visit our website at Echter’s Garden Center or call us at 303-424-7979.