Growing Raspberries in Zimbabwe

Learn how to grow these juicy summer loving berries.

To this day, only half of our raspberries from the garden have made it into our kitchen; this is not because of the birds or poor growing conditions, but I (and a few other guilty members!) simply cannot resist pecking away at these plump, red, juicy berries. This luring bush has proven easier to grow than originally thought, and by following these few tips to keep your bushes happy, you will get a continuous harvest through summer and autumn.

Where to get them

If you have a friend with raspberries, ask for some of their young suckers – roots and all. Alternatively, raspberry plants are becoming more and more available at nurseries. We sell them at Emerald Seedlings, on Alpes Road, just after Wingate Golf Course.

Planting them

Raspberries love well-drained soils, but have performed exceptionally well in my heavy clay soil – I have just had to make sure they do not have wet feet. Like most plants, good bed preparation will give the raspberries a boost. Dig a 40cm deep bed and add plenty of compost and well-rotted manure – they love manure. Plant them about 50cm apart; suckers will start to shoot up between them a month or so after planting. Some raspberries might take a while to take, so a little patience is needed.  Raspberry roots are shallow and need a good layer of mulch around the base of the plants.

The suckers

Suckers will start to spread around the bed as the weather starts to warm up. Obviously, the more suckers you have, the more raspberries. But don’t let them get out of control – they will even pop up on the outside the bed.

Feeding and spraying

Generally, I don’t feed them much during summer months, but they love a good dose of well-rotted manure after they have been pruned back in winter. My raspberries are organic, and I will definitely keep it that way. The aphids and red spider mites do take a liking to them but a weekly spray of the organic sprays like Levo, Kobe and Silwet, have kept all the nasties at bay. Unfortunately, the birds have discovered this delicious treat, which means I have to some flapping tinfoil across the bed to scare them away.


Raspberries, like most berries, like to be watered. If you don’t have much water but you still want to have your own raspberry bush, they do well in pots, too!

Which variety is best suited to the Zim climate?

There are two types of raspberries: floricanes and primocanes. They grow differently, and are therefore pruned differently. Floricanes, which are spring and summer-fruiting varieties, produce high yields of fruit on canes grown the year before. These varieties are not suited for most areas in Zimbabwe, as they need a very cold winter chill to break dormancy in spring so I won’t go into much detail on these.

Primocanes, which are known as autumn-fruiting varieties, produce fruit at the top of canes that grow in the current season. Primocanes grow well in Zim as they have a lower chill requirement and will crop in warm regions. There are two popular varieties: Autumn Bliss and Heritage.


Primocanes produce new canes/suckers in spring and when they reach their full height, they start blooming and will start producing fruit. I have found that my canes start producing fruit early in the summer and I don’t have to wait long for the autumn crop. The photo of my beautiful red raspberry was actually taken in October!

Once the cane has fruited, it dies back. I like to cut back the canes after they have died, or if you have a larger crop of raspberries, you can prune them in winter by cutting them right down. The most important part of growing raspberries is understanding that pruning is vital. You need to prune them to reap the reward.


As most primocanes don’t grow too high, trellising is a means of keeping them tidy, which makes them easier to harvest. The floricanes, which grow taller, definitely need trellising.

Harvesting raspberries

It is torture to watch a raspberry ripen, as all you want to do is pick it and eat it right then and there! When the colour intensifies, that is the best time to pick it and get the best flavours – don’t let it go too deep a colour, as you would have missed the moment! Always pick raspberries in the morning, before it gets too hot. If you plan on eating them that day, keep them in the fridge and lay them out on a plate to prevent bruising. I like to freeze mine to build up a large collection so that I can make jam or raspberry coulis.

Serve and enjoy!

If you have the willpower to resist guzzling them down before they reach the kitchen, there are so many delicious ways to serve up these heavenly red berries.

A few of my favourites include having them fresh with ice cream and chocolate sauce, or for a delicious breakfast, try muesli with Greek yoghurt, covered with raspberries and honey drizzled over. My all-time favourite thing to do with raspberries is to make a raspberry coulis, which can be drizzled over ice cream, yoghurt, and even cakes. Raspberry coulis goes well with anything chocolate!

Raspberry coulis

  1. Dissolve a teaspoon of honey into a teaspoon of hot water.
  2. Add the berries and honey into the blender – I like to add a squeeze of lemon, too, but that is just personal preference. Puree the mix.
  3. If you have a sweet tooth, have a quick taste to see if you need to add some more honey and blend again.
  4. Finally, strain through a sieve and put in the fridge until it is ready to serve.
  5. The coulis can keep a couple of days in the fridge, or you can freeze it, but it is best served fresh.


Raspberries for sale

Raspberries are available at:

Emerald Seedlings Nursery

Alpes Rd, Teviotdale, Harare

(opp Wingate Golf course)

Gill 0772 301 440

Cosmas 0772 382 081



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