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Fresh berries from your own garden are one of the gifts of summer. Ripened in the sun, the intensely colored berries are radiant and stand in accentuated contrast to the lush green of the leaves. In order for the gardener to experience this joy, it requires adequate care. Fertilizing is often neglected or replaced by standard solutions. The raspberry (Rubus idaeus) has some peculiarities in terms of fertilization and the resulting soil conditions.

fertilizer and soil

Basic information on fertilization and soil composition

Although raspberries are comparatively insensitive to the supply of nutrients, the ambitious gardener must pay attention to a few details. Mineral fertilizers are not a good choice for raspberries as they contain a lot of salt. Many soils already suffer from an increased salt content due to too frequent watering. Raspberries are very sensitive and react to the sodium chloride with sparse growth, yellow leaves and puny fruits. The same applies to chlorine. This is buried in many chemical fertilizers and berry fertilizers.

Ideally, a chlorine and salt-free berry fertilizer is combined with organic fertilizers such as compost or horse manure. The organic fertilizers loosen the soil, enrich it with microorganisms and improve the water supply.


  • Chlorine and salt limit growth!
  • Combine organic fertilizer with berry fertilizer

When to fertilize?

Fertilizer: but when?

Not only the fertilizer, but also the timing of the nutrient application changes the result. Basically, raspberries are fertilized at planting to stimulate root growth, and in spring. It is important to fertilize before flowering, which should have taken place by the beginning of May at the latest, depending on the variety.

Although it is often advised to fertilize a second time before the fruit is ripe, this should be done with caution. It is true that the fruits get bigger as a result, but on the other hand the taste suffers. In addition, frequent fertilization can have the opposite effect, especially on soil that is already rich in nutrients.

  • Because too much is just as bad as not enough nutrients!

On the other hand, on lean and medium-rich soils, a second fertilization after the fruiting period is indicated. This gives the plant the strength to create new buds and get through the winter well. But beware: Fertilizing only a few weeks before the first frost is harmful. The raspberries react by forming new sprouts, which then freeze. For this reason, late-bearing varieties in particular should no longer be fertilized in autumn.

Note fertilizing:

  • when planting
  • in spring before flowering
  • in autumn after fruit ripening
  • late-bearing varieties only in spring
  • Sun, rain and fertilization do not get along

The weather is just as important when fertilizing as the timing. Light clouds and moderate temperatures without rain and direct sunlight are ideal.

The reason:

Rain would immediately wash away the nutrients that were freshly introduced into the soil, making them unusable.

The sun, on the other hand, can literally burn stems, roots and leaves through the escaping gases from organic fertiliser. Particular caution is advised with liquid fertilizers. Never pour this over the foliage, but always directly on the trunk.


  • never fertilize in sun and rain
  • Do not wet leaves and flowers
  • Horse manure - a rich, organic fertilizer

A rich direct and long-term fertilizer with many advantages is horse manure. It can be used fresh, dried and composted for raspberries. However, it does not matter in what form it is provided to the plants.

Fresh horse manure is rich in readily available ammonia and acts as a direct fertilizer. At the same time, the fresh horse manure is a long-term fertilizer, because the decomposition process only releases all the nutrients after about a year.

Dried manure, on the other hand, has less nitrogen because the ammonia has evaporated. It is also odorless at the same time. Composted horse droppings form a rich humus that loosens the soil and can store water at the same time.

Fresh horse droppings - ideal for planting

Fresh horse manure can be described as a nutrient booster, which also produces heat during the decomposition process. The gardener can take advantage of both.

When transplanting the raspberries, the horse manure is put into the planting hole. This trick is borrowed from rose breeding and also works with raspberries, because both belong to the same family: the rose family (Rosaceae).

It is important that the horse droppings are not buried too deep in the planting hole, because unlike roses, raspberries are shallow-rooted. The rotting horse manure warms the plant from below. The roots are stimulated to grow by the quickly available nitrogen and the plant quickly gets used to the new location.


  • Horse droppings in the planting hole
  • Raspberries are flat-rooted
  • dried and composted horse manure for spring

Dried and composted horse manure is suitable as a long-term fertilizer. The compost has the advantage that the nutrients are available even more quickly than with dried fertilizer. In addition, it is able to bind water to the root ball. For this, do not work the compost into the soil or only work it a little. With every watering or rain, the nutrients gradually seep to the roots.

However, if the soil is already wet, compost can be counterproductive and encourage rotting processes. In this case, dried manure is more suitable, which is lightly worked into the soil with a hoe. Here it only binds a small amount of water and slowly releases its nutrients.


  • composted horse manure for dry soil
  • dried manure for moist soil
  • Nettle manure - the natural supplier of nitrogen

Stinging nettles need a lot of nitrogen to grow and serve as a nitrogen indicator in the garden. It is therefore only logical that the decaying plant material can serve as a natural nitrogen supplier for raspberries.

To prepare nettle manure, the roughly cut plant material is covered with water. Depending on the outside temperature, the batch will ferment for about one to two weeks. It is important to ensure that foam forms when you stir the mixture every day. If this does not rise further, the nettle manure is ready for use. It is diluted with water at a ratio of 1:10 and applied to the roots of the raspberries.


  • Dilute nettle slurry 1:10 with water
  • do not water over leaves
  • nitrogenous

Berry fertilizer with mycorrhiza

Berry fertilizer - quick help with mycorrhiza

Trade offers specialized fertilizers for berries. These tend to be low in nitrogen but high in potassium and phosphorus, which are essential for healthy bud formation. The low nitrogen content is designed for good soils: On depleted soils, berry fertilizers alone are often not sufficient and should be supplemented with organic fertilizers such as horse manure and nettle manure. A combination of both elements provides immediate and long-term care.

In addition, selected berry fertilizers contain mycorrhiza. This is a soil fungus that forms a symbiosis with the raspberry roots. It increases the surface area of the roots and thereby improves the ability to absorb water and nutrients.


  • Berry fertilizers are low in nitrogen
  • they are designed as direct fertilizers
  • watch out for mycorrhiza

Lime - no thanks

Experienced hobby gardeners know about the yield-promoting effect of lime. Flowers, fruit and vegetables as well as the beloved lawn sprout in lush green thanks to the annual liming. In contrast, raspberries, like many other berries, are lime tolerant. The reason: Lime neutralizes acidic soil.

Raspberries thrive particularly well at a pH of 5.5 to 6.5, i.e. acidic soil. This special feature requires increased attention when watering, because tap water has a high lime content in many places. So grab rainwater. In naturally calcareous soils, regular fertilization with coffee grounds not only provides nutrients, but also reduces the pH value of the soil.


  • do not lime
  • use rainwater. Tap water contains lime!
  • pH of 5.5 to 6.5 is ideal
  • Coffee grounds neutralize limescale

Coffee grounds as fertilizer

Coffee grounds - the cheap fertilizer for raspberries

Coffee grounds are a cheap alternative to store-bought berry fertilizer. Simply work the cold and dried powder into the soil in spring and benefit from the nutrients and special properties of the coffee. Because the coffee grounds not only reduce the pH value of the soil, its smell also deters pests.


  • Coffee grounds are a full-fledged fertilizer
  • Pests are deterred

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