How to propagate raspberries: from suckers, layering and cuttings


With a passion for growing installed at an early age, I have always been happiest outdoors in nature. After training as a professional gardener and horticultural therapist, I currently run horticultural therapy and community kitchen gardens in the UK, helping others access the many physical and mental health benefits of growing vegetables, fruit and plants.

Favourite fruit: apples and pears
Favourite vegetable: asparagus

Come summer, it is almost impossible to have too many raspberries, as if not eaten fresh, they can be stored and preserved for the winter months ahead. Thankfully, raspberries are easy to propagate, read on to find out how to produce more raspberry plants for free.

Raspberry seedlings growing in a tray
Raspberries can be propagated in many ways [Photo: Catherine Eckert/]

With its often vigorous growth and tendency to spread, the raspberry plant (Rubus idaeus) is sometimes considered a bit of a thug. However, this also means that it is easy to propagate new plants from suckers, layering or cuttings to either increase your stock or give away to family and friends.

Propagating raspberries: choosing a raspberry plant

As always when propagating plants, choose a healthy and strong raspberry plant for the best chance of success. There are several raspberry diseases, from cane blight caused by the Paraconiothyrium fuckelii fungus to root rot (Phytophthora fragariae). It is important to avoid these when propagating to minimise any potential spread.

Diseased raspberry canes
Only propagate raspberries from healthy and strong plants [Photo: Dyfrain/]

Propagation from suckers

Propagating raspberry plants from suckers (or runners as they are often known) is perhaps the most popular and easiest method. With many different raspberry varieties available to grow, some tend to spread by suckering more than others. If planted without a root barrier, raspberries can take over an area and become very dense, making harvesting raspberries and pruning raspberry canes almost impossible, which increases the likelihood of disease. Thankfully, these suckers are easy to remove and can be used for new plants.

Raspberry suckers growing along stolon
Raspberries can easily be propagated from naturally occurring suckers [Photo: OlgaSolo/]

To propagate raspberries from suckers:

  1. From spring until autumn, identify new sucker growth 30cm or more away from the parent plant.
  2. Dig up the sucker plant using a trowel or spade, being careful not to damage the parent plant’s roots.
  3. If the sucker or runner is still attached to the lateral stolon, but has already formed its own roots, it can be cut away from the mother plant.
  4. Transplant the raspberry sucker to a newly prepared site at the recommended spacing and apply a fertiliser, such as our slow-release Plantura Tomato Food. Or pot up individually to grow in a container.
  5. Keep the soil moist until fully established.
  6. Prune according to its variety.
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Propagation from cuttings

Along with currants (Ribes), raspberries can be propagated from hardwood cuttings when the plants are dormant in winter. However, propagating raspberries from cuttings is not a commonly used method, as other ways can be easier, less time-consuming and have a higher success rate.

Raspberry canes being pruned
Raspberries can be propagated from hardwood cuttings [Photo: VH-studio/]

How to take raspberry cuttings:

  1. Take hardwood raspberry cuttings in winter once the plants have shed their foliage.
  2. Cut a healthy looking cane into pieces 15 to 20cm long, making cuts just above and below the buds.
  3. Strip the lower leaves and buds off the cutting, leaving only the topmost two or three.
  4. Insert the cuttings two-thirds deep into a deep pot filled with a low-nutrient and free-draining cuttings mix, such as our Plantura Organic Herb & Seedling Compost.
  5. Place in an unheated greenhouse or cold frame and keep the soil moist but not wet.
  6. In spring, once the cuttings have rooted, pot on individually using a peat-free multipurpose compost.
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Organic Herb & Seedling Compost, 20L
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Propagation by layering

You can also propagate raspberries by another method called layering. Layering is commonly used for blackberries (Rubus fruticosus) but can work equally well for raspberries. Patience is required, as the layered piece of stem has to form its own roots whilst still attached to the parent plant. This method is often only used if suckers are not available. There are four methods of layering, but tip layering and simple layering are the most common methods for propagating raspberries.

Newly developed roots on layered cane
Raspberries can be propagated by layering like blackberries [Photo: Gheorghe Mindru/]

How to propagate raspberries by tip layering:

  1. In spring, select long pliable canes that are long enough to easily reach the ground.
  2. Make a slit in the soil with a spade or a trowel and gently bend the cane so that the tip of the cane can be buried in the soil around 7 to 10cm deep.
  3. Use metal wire or a tent peg to secure the cane to the ground.
  4. Backfill around the cane with soil and water thoroughly.
  5. Keep the soil moist over the summer months.
  6. In autumn or the following spring, gently check for new growth and tug the cane to see if it has rooted. If the new plant has formed its own roots, cut it off from the parent plant.
  7. Grow on the new plant in situ or pot up to grow in a container.

How to propagate raspberries by simple layering:

  1. In spring or autumn select a long flexible cane that can be bent to ground level.
  2. Approximately 30cm from the growing tip, remove the leaves and make a slight wound 5cm long with a clean and sharp knife.
  3. Dig a shallow trench 10cm deep in the soil and lay the wounded part of the cane in the trench.
  4. Peg or secure the cane down and backfill with soil, allowing the growing tip to freely grow above the ground.
  5. Water well and keep the soil moist over the coming months.
  6. After a year, check to see if the layering has rooted. If it has rooted, it can be cut away from the parent plant to grow on as above.
Planting a young raspberry plant
Once rooted, the new raspberry plants can be planted elsewhere or potted up [Photo: StoryTime Studio/]

Having propagated new raspberry plants, you will want to grow them where they will thrive and produce a great crop. More information and tips on planting raspberries can be found in our separate article.

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