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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - May 23, 2013

From: Waterford, CA
Region: California
Topic: Edible Plants, Shrubs
Title: Non-fruiting Willamette raspberry plant in Wateford CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a 2 year old Willamette Raspberry plant that has many blooms, bees, great growing conditions, very healthy but has never set one fruit. I know about pruning. Any suggestions? It has been blooming on the same canes for two years, has not been pruned ever, and has never set even one fruit. Talked with many nurseries, no one has a clue please help if you can.

ANSWER:

It took us a while, but after we found this BackyardGardener.com article on Rubus idaeus (Willamette raspberry), we discovered Rubus idaeus ssp. strigosus (Grayleaf red raspberry) in our Native Plant Database, which is apparently the same thing, with a trade name attached to it. Since we only recommend plants native not only to North America but to the areas in which they evolved; in your case, Stanislaus Co., CA, in central California, this at least meant we could find out something about whether it is growing in the right place. Unfortunately, we could not find all that much information. We usually first refer to the USDA Plant Profiles, only to find that there was not county by county information on this plant from California. California, like Texas, has so many different elevations, ecosystems and soils that discovering if a plant is being grown in its own ideal environment is tricky.

We went to the Internet and really couldn't find a whole lot of definitive information. One thing we discovered was that fruit appeared on year-old canes. Possibly, since your plant is only two years old, it has not yet come to the fruiting age. On re-reading the first link we gave you above:

'Willamette' bears large, deep red, flavorful fruits in mid- to late summer. Raspberries are biennials that perform best in full sun with plenty of water and a good fertilizing when blooms begin."

According to our webpage (see plant link above) this plant blooms white from May to July, followed by fruit in late Summer to early Fall. Since it is not yet time for your plants to be fruiting this year,  perhaps you just need to wait a while. And look out for birds, they are waiting for the fruit, too.

Prescription: Patience.

 

From the Image Gallery


Grayleaf red raspberry
Rubus idaeus ssp. strigosus

Grayleaf red raspberry
Rubus idaeus ssp. strigosus

Grayleaf red raspberry
Rubus idaeus ssp. strigosus

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