Fruit trees and small fruits

Answers to Your Questions: Raspberries That Don’t Produce


About 5 years ago, I moved my raspberry bushes from one end of the garden to another, and they don’t fruit. They flower well, but nothing ripens. Do you have an explanation?

Photo: zokov/Getty Images


Presumably, if your raspberry bushes are flowering well, growing conditions must be acceptable. So why don’t they bear fruit? We can’t blame the absence of pollinating insects, as raspberry plants can self-pollinate if necessary (although the fruit is puny and not very tasty). I think the problem is that your plants have become infected with viruses.

There are many viruses that infect raspberry plants. Often, a virus-infected plant looks quite normal, but is a little shorter and less vigorous than before. It may also have curled, yellowish or streaked leaves. Almost always, low-yielding plants turn out to be infested with not one, but several viruses. These viruses are carried by biting insects, then spread rapidly from plant to plant by root-to-root contact.

Source : Getty Images

Once a colony is infested, there’s nothing to do but uproot it and start again with new plants placed elsewhere in the field, as the soil will also be contaminated. Always buy certified virus-free plants and avoid planting your raspberry bushes near brambles or wild raspberries, which almost always carry viruses.

Further Information

  1. Check soil pH: The ideal pH for raspberries is between 5.5 and 6.5. Soil that is too alkaline or too acidic can interfere with fruiting. Carry out a soil analysis and adjust the pH if necessary with amendments such as sulfur or lime.
  2. Weather conditions: Late frosts can damage flowers, preventing fruiting. Make sure raspberry bushes are protected from late spring frosts.
  3. Nutrients: A lack of certain nutrients, particularly potassium, can affect fruit production. Use a balanced, organic fertilizer or compost to ensure adequate nutrition.
  4. Watering: Raspberry bushes need regular watering, especially during flowering and fruiting. Soil that is too dry or too wet can affect fruit production. Maintain constant humidity without overwatering.
  5. Planting density: Raspberry plants planted too close together can suffer from poor air circulation, increasing the risk of disease and reducing fruit production. Space plants properly to ensure good aeration.
  6. Sun exposure: Raspberry bushes need full sun to produce abundant fruit. Make sure they get at least 6 to 8 hours of sun a day.
  7. Suitable pruning: Proper pruning is crucial. Prune raspberry bushes by removing old branches that have already produced fruit, and thin out new shoots to allow better air circulation and sunlight. Raspberries can produce fruit on second-year canes for summer-bearing varieties or on first-year canes for fall-bearing varieties.

Larry Hodgson published thousands of articles and 65 books over the course of his career, in both French and English. His son, Mathieu, has made it his mission to make his father’s writings accessible to the public. This text was originally published in Le Soleil newspaper in 2006.

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

9 comments on “Answers to Your Questions: Raspberries That Don’t Produce

  1. pruning is the most common problem that I notice with my client’s raspberries, as well as blackberries. A lack of pruning does not completely prevent fruiting, but it inhibits it, and makes a horrid mess.

  2. Regarding raspberry viruses, what about other Rubus species, such as blackberries, thimbleberries, etc? Do they also fruit poorly due to viruses?

    • Mathieu Hodgson

      Yes, other Rubus species like blackberries, thimbleberries, and others can also experience poor fruit production due to viruses. Common viruses affecting these plants include Raspberry bushy dwarf virus (RBDV), Raspberry mosaic virus complex, Tomato ringspot virus (ToRSV), Blackberry yellow vein disease, and Blackberry chlorotic ringspot virus (BCRV). These viruses can cause symptoms such as leaf discoloration, stunted growth, malformed fruits, and overall plant decline.

  3. Mary Ann Edwards

    I have a black current bush that blooms every spring but the fruit doesn’t develop. It is planted close to a red current bush which produces well each year. I tried to research if it requires a male/female plant but can’t find any mention of that. Any suggestions??

    • Mathieu Hodgson

      Red currants are generally self-fertile and don’t need another variety to pollinate them. Black currants can also self-fertile or not, but they often produce better with cross-pollination. Your black currant would benefit from having another variety planted nearby to improve fruit production.

  4. Parvati Ramchandani

    My blue false indigo ( Baptista ) puts on lush foliage each spring but nary a flower. It is in part shade due to a neighbor’s tree. What can I do to promote flowering?

    • Mathieu Hodgson

      Consider relocating it to an area with more sunlight, as it thrives best in full sun. Ensure the soil is well-drained and lean, avoiding overly rich soils. Water the plant deeply but infrequently, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings to encourage strong root growth. Avoid excessive pruning, and use a light mulch to retain moisture and regulate soil temperature without enriching the soil excessively.

  5. I just dug several plants out this week but had not considered the soil would be impacted. Thank you for resharing.

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