|Photo credit: BrazelBerries|
When gardeners think of growing berries in containers, they usually think first of strawberries growing in classic strawberry pots. I'm growing my strawberries that way this year, having lost my usual strawberry bed to the encroaching shade of a growing tree. But I want more berries! There have been some good blueberry varieties introduced in recent years that are bred for container gardening, such as 'Top Hat', 'Sunshine Blue', 'Patriot', 'Peach Sorbet', 'Jelly Bean', and 'Northsky'. But I was really excited to see BrazelBerries come out with a dwarf, thornless raspberry called 'Raspberry Shortcake', perfect for container growing.
You can, of course, grow other varieties of raspberries in containers but they require some kind of support structure for the canes. And unless you plant a thornless variety, you have to place the container somewhere out of the way so that you won't constantly be pricked by thorns as you walk by. 'Raspberry Shortcake' requires no trellising or other support and because it's thornless, it would work nicely on a sunny deck or patio, even in a high-traffic area.
'Raspberry Shortcake' is intended for zones 5-9, although I'll be growing it in my zone 10a garden and I expect it will do fine. It grows to a 2- to 3-foot mounded shrub and fruits on second-year canes in mid-summer. It needs full sun, well-draining soil, and moderate water. If you plant it now (early spring), give it a couple weeks to settle in and then fertilize with a balanced fertilizer. When it fruits you may want to cover with a net or remay cloth to keep the birds from robbing you of your harvest. After the fruiting period is over, prune out the canes that had fruit, so the only canes left will fruit next year. More canes will appear next spring that will fruit the following year. It's self-pollinating, but it's true of most self-pollinating fruits that you tend to get a heavier yield if you have more than one plant.
'Raspberry Shortcake' may not be easy to find yet in your local nursery, but if you can't find it there you can order it directly from White Flower Farm. I was really happy to find one at the booth for Wegman's Nursery at the SF Flower & Garden Show last month. I still need to pot it up in and I better do it this weekend because it's already leafing out quite a bit. I can't wait to taste the first berries this summer!
You can also check out last month's You Can Grow That! post about Swiss chard.