Salmonberry: planting, care & uses
The salmonberry is something very special. We explain everything you need to know from planting to caring for the salmonberry.
Salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis) is a perennial plant in the rose family (Rosaceae). It belongs to the same genus as the normal raspberry (Rubus idaeus). The relatives are largely similar in care, reproduction and demands. However, the salmonberry trumps with varieties whose flowers are reminiscent of the seductive beauty of the English rose. Therefore, it is also called a raspberry rose. But the salmonberry is not only a great ornamental plant, it impresses growers with its sweet, juicy fruit in early summer.
- Salmonberry: origin and history
- Salmonberry varieties: the most popular and delicious varieties
- Planting salmonberries
- Propagating salmonberries
- Salmonberry care
- Salmonberry: common diseases and pests
- Ingredients and recipes
Salmonberry: origin and history
The salmonberry is native to the northwest of the USA, where it was collected and utilised by indigenous peoples in the wilderness. The fruits of the splendid raspberry ripen each year for the arrival of salmon in the mouth of the Columbia River. Therefore, this tasty berry was traditionally prepared with salmon roe (that is, fish eggs). The name “salmonberry” was therefore not created because of the colour of the fruit or the flowers, but rather because of this tradition. Not only because the impressive natural spectacle of salmon migration does not occur in this country, but also because of new varieties with beautiful double flowers, the name “splendid raspberry” has come about over time.
Salmonberry varieties: the most popular and delicious varieties
Since the salmonberry is more of a rarer speciality for connoisseurs, essentially only two popular varieties have become established in Europe. Compared to the variety of classic raspberries, this seems almost ridiculous. However, both varieties captivate with their yellow-orange to bright red and sweet fruits. For vegetative reproduction, they also form root and shoot runners.
The plants are hardy and suitable for culture in large containers.
‘Olympic Double’: This variety seems to be responsible for the origin of the name “raspberry rose”, because its large double flowers are pink and create the association with the magnificent English roses. The fruits of ‘Olympic Double’ ripen a little later than those of ‘Pacific Rose’. You can harvest the first ripe fruits from the beginning of July. Since the spreading flower makes fertilisation difficult, the harvest is usually not as abundant as with the Pacific variety. Due to its shrubby growth habit, it reaches heights of up to 1.5 metres.
‘Pacific Rose’: Of two cultivars, this one is probably closer to the original appearance of the American native salmonberry. It is also free of sharp spines, making it a joy to plant and care for. Its relatively small, chic, pink flower impresses with its colour intensity and produces the first ripe fruits as early as mid-June; it grows upright and reaches heights of 1.5 to 2 metres despite its bushy growth and the formation of stolons.
In terms of planting, there are few differences between the normal raspberry and salmonberry. While well-known raspberries are usually cultivated on a trellis, the salmonberry does not require support. However, depending on whether spread is desired, a root barrier can potentially be incorporated to prevent and control unwanted spread in the garden.
Location and requirements
Like its close relatives, salmonberry prefers humus-rich, deeply loosened and thus well-aerated soil. Although salmonberries originally grew primarily in semi-shaded forest clearings, the cultivated varieties available in specialised stores form their particularly juicy fruits in sunny locations with a good water supply.
However, locations should preferably be chosen where no other rose plants have grown immediately before. This is because it could diminish your enjoyment of the new garden resident through lower yields or increased disease infestation. However, if you have little space available, you can plant the salmonberry in large pots.
Planting salmonberries: when and how
In order to enjoy fresh fruit the following summer, you should plant the seedlings in autumn in loose soil. To do this, it is advisable to dig up the soil around the planting hole with a spade to a depth of about 30 centimetres to also loosen the soil around the root ball and thus make it easier for the roots to grow in. This should be replaced with a high-quality soil such as our peat-free Plantura Organic Tomato & Vegetable Compost, which also provides berry fruit with optimal nutrients.
Finally, the root ball of the young salmonberry should be placed in the planting hole and lightly pressed, so that the roots grow well, but do not form waterlogging due to excessively compacted soil.
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Tip: Do not plant the salmonberry too deep so it does not sink into the possibly too moist soil at the base of the canes – this way you can reduce the risk of an infestation with cane blight, which is generally feared for raspberries.
Generative propagation of salmonberries by seed is laborious and not particularly promising. The possibilities of vegetative propagation, on the other hand, are as numerous as they are simple.
Propagating salmonberry by sinkers
Probably the simplest and most gentle method of propagation of salmonberry is done via sinkers. After all, raspberry plants use this mechanism themselves to spread in the wild. To promote the process, a live shoot of the salmonberry is bent toward the surface of the soil. The tip of the shoot should always be above the surface of the soil, the shoot is partially buried in the ground at one point and fixed so that it remains below the surface of the soil. After a few weeks, the shoot will then form the first roots and soon the shoot can be separated between the original plant and the new roots. Now the new plant is able to feed itself through its own roots.
Propagating salmonberries by root cuttings or cane division
Has your salmonberry already reached a stately size? Then you can divide the rootstock between the canes with a well-aimed spade. But sometimes you still need the help of pruning shears. Now that you have divided your plant, you can plant one part in a new bed or container. If you would like more salmonberries, you can cut the roots of your plant into pieces about 5 inches long with garden shears and place them in fresh compost in the desired location. Soon, a new plant will sprout from these root cuttings.
Propagating salmonberries by shoots
Similar to roses, salmonberry can also be propagated via shoot parts. This method is recommended for October, when the plants begin to gradually go into hibernation. To do this, cut healthy, straight canes into pieces 10 to 20 centimetres long, each with four buds. Then put them vertically in potting soil so that two buds on each shoot are covered with soil. The formation of new roots will then happen in the spring. Nevertheless, the expectant plants should not be disturbed until the following autumn.
Salmonberry is generally a hardy, robust plant. It grows between 1.5 and 2 metres tall and does not require scaffolding due to its stability. Root runners (rhizomes) allow salmonberries to spread widely underground and grow back up out of the ground elsewhere. However, this can be prevented by root barriers.
In hot summers with prolonged heat and low rainfall, the salmonberry should be watered daily, depending on soil conditions – preferably in the evening or early morning. Although it prefers some moisture in the soil, it also tolerates short dry periods. You should, however, avoid waterlogging at all costs. Therefore, on sandy soils and when growing in pots, you should reach for the watering can more often than if the salmonberry has taken root in loamy or particularly clayey soils.
For those who like to provide their salmonberry with their own manufactured fertiliser materials, natural fertilisation with mulch, manure, compost or nettle manure is recommended. Fertiliser should be applied in the autumn, after the fruits have ripened. To do this, spread a thin layer of mulch around the plants. This not only ensures an adequate supply of nutrients until spring, but also improves the microclimate of the soil. Suitable fertilisers include our Plantura All Purpose Plant Food. Natural fertilisers release nutrients slowly, encourage and promote soil life, and can be produced in a more resource-efficient manner than mineral fertilisers. With the latter variant, there is also a quick risk of overfertilisation and the unintended leaching of nutrients into groundwater if handled incorrectly – which is really not where they’re supposed to end up.
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Pruning salmonberry plants
Pruning salmonberry is not strictly necessary but can increase crop yields. To do this, remove worn canes near the ground with scissors in autumn. Younger shoots can be shortened if necessary to stimulate flowering. However, note that salmonberry still bears fruit on perennial shoots.
Salmonberry: common diseases and pests
Diseases and pests usually do not affect the salmonberry. Aseptically bred varieties purchased from specialised suppliers are particularly robust and largely resistant to diseases. From time to time, however, the fungal disease grey mould (Bortrytis cinerea) may appear on the shoots or fruit. The raspberry beetle (Byturus tomentosus) is a well-known pest in raspberry cultivation. This occasionally also lays its eggs in the flowers of the salmonberry, where they grow into small maggots in the ripe fruit.
Ingredients and recipes
Due to its healing properties, the salmonberry was used for medicinal purposes by the indigenous peoples of North America. Its root bark is said to have analgesic and sedative effects. In addition, the fruits of the magnificent salmonberry contain high concentrations of vitamin C, K and manganese. They can be enjoyed raw or made into a delicious jam, jelly or fruit wine. Of course, you can also prepare them – quite traditionally – with salmon roe.