Care Instructions for Soft Fruit Plants

Growing your own soft fruit is an excellent way to save money. You know no chemicals have been involved and it’s surprisingly easy to grow and care for!

When Your Plants Arrive

  • Upon arrival, unpack the plants and remove all packing immediately.
  • Water the plants if necessary.
  • If unable to plant within a couple of days store in a well ventilated, cool, frost-free place, away from draughts.

When removing plants from trays, push up from the bottom using a pencil or similar implement to avoid damaging the plants.

IMPORTANT:   Do not plant your soft fruit plants outside if there is a danger of frost.

Raspberries & Blackberries

Spacing:In the garden space the posts approximately 3 metres (9ft to 10ft) apart and string the wires about 45cm (18in) apart.
Raspberries: dig in manure to the soil prior to planting.
Blackberries: plant so that some of the cane is below the surface (5-6m (2 to 3in) as they produce shoots from the base.
Position:Full sun to partial shade. Most soils are suitable, dig in manure prior to planting.
Feeding & Watering:Feed early spring (March) with high N fertiliser. Then a standard liquid or granular feed (1:1:1 NPK). Water regularly.
Support & Pruning:Support with wires and canes. Allow plants to grow on and layer them along a wire.
Raspberries: prune back to 15cm (6in) in September/October. Cut back hard after fruiting.
Blackberries: during May thin out extra canes that have grown. Remove unwanted shoots to shape like a bush and allow maximum air circulation.
Harvesting:Midsummer to last fruit. Allow berries to fully ripen so they come away easily, pick as soon as they ripen as they do not stay in good condition on the plant for very long. Harvest regularly to ensure the crop continues longer.
Storage:Up to 5 days in a fridge. Handle carefully when freezing as they are easily bruised. Make sure any damaged fruit is removed.

Blueberries & Cranberries

Spacing:In the garden approximately 1 to 1.2 metres (3 to 4ft) apart. 1 plant per 30cm (12in) container.
Position:Full sun to partial shade. Ideally, they prefer acidic soil so when planting in containers use ericaceous compost. In the garden border, dig in extra compost/manure prior to planting to enrich the soil.
Feeding & Watering:Water little and often preferably using rainwater which has a lower ph. Apply a mulch over the top of the soil e.g. bark. In containers, feed monthly with a standard liquid or granular feed (1:1:1 NPK).
Support & Pruning:After 2 to 3 years prune annually in late autumn or early spring. Remove any dead & dying shoots or branches on the floor and remove some of the old shoots from the bottom that are non-fruiting. Thin out to prevent overcrowding.
Harvesting:Pick the fruit when blueberries are a deep blue colour and the cranberries a deep red/pink. Harvest from July to September.
Storage:Wash and leave in refrigerator for up to 10 days.

Blackcurrants, Redcurrants & Gooseberries

Spacing:In the garden space approximately 150 to 180cm (5ft to 6ft) apart. Plant so that the Blackcurrant and Redcurrant bushes are about 6cm (3in) deeper on the ground than when grown in the pot. This enables the plants to produce lots of stems from the ground level. Gooseberries should be planted at the same depth as they are growing in the pot.
Position:Full sun to partial shade. Most soils are suitable, dig in manure prior to planting.
Feeding & Watering:Feed early spring (March) with high N fertiliser. Then a standard liquid or granular feed (1:1:1 NPK) up to fruiting. Water well whilst establishing and in very dry periods.
Support & Pruning:Blackcurrants and Redcurrants start in the second year after planting by removing all the weak branches. Thereafter in the winter remove about a third of the old wood each year. The aim is to produce a vase-shaped bush that air can penetrate through which will help prevent a disease from developing.
Gooseberries prune by cutting back to a third of the branch length in September/October. Remove any unwanted shoots and shape to produce an open bush just like the currents.
Harvesting:Mid summer to last fruit.
Storage:Blackcurrants and Redcurrants place in the fridge quickly as they do not store well, again if using for jams or sauces cook quickly. Can be frozen.
Gooseberries will store for up to 2 weeks in a cool place. Can be frozen.


Spacing:In the garden space approximately 30 to 45cm (12 to 18in) between the plants and approximately 60cm (2ft) between the rows is fine. When planting creates a slight mound and then spread the roots of the plant evenly over the mound. The growing point or crown of the plant should be just slightly deeper than when the plant was growing in the pot.
Position:Sunny sheltered position.
Feeding & Watering:Once planted make sure they are well watered in and well-watered if conditions are dry. Apply a general fertiliser in April such as Growmore at 70gms per square metre. Mulch the crop in May and apply a potash rich fertiliser after fruiting.
Storage:Cut back the foliage in the autumn and remove any runners that have grown off the main plant. In the following spring remove any old leaves and feed well once new growth starts. Once the fruit starts to form, place some straw underneath the ripening strawberries and protect your fruit with your normal method of slug control.
Harvesting:Once they change to good ripe red colour pick regularly.