My raspberry nursery stock seldom sprouts, any idea why?

About two yrs ago I bought about a dozen dormant bareroot black and red raspberry plants from 3-4 nurseries. All different varieties. Only one sprouted. All the others just sat there as dead sticks. This yr one Jewel black raspberry from Raintree bareroot. I’m pretty sure I’ve got another dead stick. The blackberries in the same order came as potted plants with green tops. One was so dry almost all the leaves died. But both recovered and are doing well.

Any ideas what’s going on? Anyone have similar experience or good results?

Another question. As usual I forgot to classify this post. I’ve tried everything to get it into general fruit growing and nothing works. Any suggestions there?

Hi Fruitnut, Mine all grow like weeds so the only three things that come to mind are soil, temperature and disease. Perhaps they are the only fruits not happy in your garden of Eden? Mrs. G


Everything else grows with similar potting mix and watering.

All my cane fruits grow like weeds. Sounds like bad plants that were in storage too long.

I could tip later a Jewel for you this summer if you want. Also have Logan.

I have only had raspberries from Raintree fail. Even one that was dry with the only growth pure white. Nourse, Indiana Berry, and Stark Brothers have excellent raspberries. If you want in the fall I can dig some bareroot plants out for you.
Although I must admit one I sent failed too!! Yikes!
If I sent raspberries to anybody here, how did they do?

I bought three black hawk raspberys last year that shipped in the mail. They were cut off about 12 inches high. Only one ever sprouted new growth. The other two never showed any sign of life. None of them had any green when u scratched the cane. The one that lived came up from the roots. It did well last year and has tip layered three new plants for this spring.

These were tip rooted plants that were dug dormant with no new sprouts. The cane that was rooted last fall just sets there. Don’t expect any growth from that, except maybe down low, but there should be a sprout come up from the crown. Or so I’d think.

I’ve never had failures like this on anything else.

Thanks to everyone for offers of plants and your observations. I’ll stick with my blackberries at this point. Have Obsidian, Newberry, Columbia Star, Black Diamond, and the one black raspberry that survived from two yrs ago, Allen.

Mine is a beast! it sprouted 11 canes last year! I cut three weaker ones off. I have Jewel and Niwot too, and seed to a niwot cross to produce a better tasting primocane fruiting berry from the breeder. But I want to practice germinating seeds before I try, toughest seeds to sprout I have ever attempted. So far only 3 have sprouted for me out of about 25. I’ll keep trying…

Please figure this out, fruitnut!!! I have the worst luck in the world with small raspberry sticks. I’ve bought them at 3 different local stores (Big box stores, but I honestly don’t think that is the problem). They come in small plastic bags filled with wet sawdust around an otherwise bear root plant. The “plant” on the ones I’m talking about is just one stick sticking up above the dirt. But I open the little plastic bags and pull the stick out enough to see that there are live roots and even a small, pure white plant growing up toward the top of the soil (sawdust). So it all looks pretty well when I buy them. Yet when I plant them, I get a success rate of about 25%!!! I’m planting in the ground, but I dig small holes (12" x 12" x 12" and fill it with potting soil and then gently burry the raspberry “plant” so the roots are covered and the stick is above ground.
I’ve tried this 2 years in a row, with various varieties, brands, and local sources. I’ve even tried this 2 years in a row, with about 15 plants each year. So almost everything is variable here, making it hard to fault a brand, a store, a type of plant, etc. The only thing they have in common is they are all just a stick of a plant with roots in the same type medium (sawdust type stuff) which is always damp and alive- I check. All with about a 75% failure rate. Now admittedly, these only cost about $3.99 to $4.99 so I’m trying the cheap way! When I buy actual potted raspberry plants I have about a 98% success rate. But the sticks in sawdust just don’t work! What’s up?

I guess I have been lucky, almost all of mine have been bare root. but mine are from online nurseries except for one. I only lost one, ever. I have about 20 plants I bought. Try Indiana Berry prices are from $2.95 to $3.75 each. I just got in today some elderberries that were mailed yesterday, one day in the post. From Nourse Farms, another good place. They sent a free elderberry too. I didn’t plan on it, and need to find a place for it!

Cityman and Drew:

I’m with you on the dead stick but haven’t even seen the white bud below ground that should turn into a new primocane. Same thing from Raintree, Indiana Berry Farm, and Nourse Farms. Maybe I’ve lost my touch :sleepy:

Just seeing your post made me feel better! If YOU- with your experience and expertise- are having some trouble with these stick raspberries then I sure don’t feel as bad about my own uneducated failures. To be clear, I meant that I had seen the white bud underneath the stick WHEN I purchased them (I pulled them gently out of the sawdust to make sure the roots were alive). I always felt that was great evidence that all was well…but they rarely make it out of the soil after I plant the whole thing.
The few that I have had been successful are the ones that had actual green growth coming out of the lone stick. But even that is far from a guarantee- I’ve had many with green growth showing that still died after I planted them.

It does seem to be very nursery specific in my limited sample. So maybe even though they all looked alive when they arrived, some had exposure to repeated freezing or other issues that weakened them before they arrived. When I look at the unscientific results it seems like the plants that are grown by the same nursery that sold them have a much higher survival rate than any that have gone the extra step through another retailer.

Of the 4 blackberry plants from Grow Organic only one of the 4 is doing well and one other one showed some life, died back and now shows one tiny new primocane coming up. If it survives it will probably be a long time before I get any reasonable fruit. The other 2 are probably dead, although I would love to be surprised.

I got a Black Magic from Gurney’s and it seemed dead for a long time (almost 2 months), but is now showing the start of a new primocane. The plant was a tiny little thing when I received it, even though it cost much more than any others. Of the plants I bought from Gurney’s almost all have been no shows, so maybe that should tell me something for ordering next year.

But I bought 7 raspberries (5 prelude and 2 lauren) and 1 blackberry (osage) from Indiana Berry and all are a live and well. Below is a picture of the raspberries and all of them except the closest one to the camera have new primocanes coming up. The close one does have growth from the stubbed cane so I know it is alive and hopefully it will send up a new cane later this year. Many of them have growth on the stubbed canes besides the new primocanes so maybe I’ll get to taste a few berries this year.


When were you planting them? Spring or fall? Or both? If spring only try fall and vice versa. Freezing temps on dormant raspberries will not hurt them. I’ve planted them in freezing weather and they lived. The only thing I can think of is sometimes they take a long time, don’t pull them too early. Give them 6-8 weeks Also once in leave them alone, don’t be digging them up and looking for buds. No fertilizer either. I’m trying to think what I do, since it’s been working. So I just described my process. I planted most of mine in the spring too. A couple in the fall, all lived!
Last week I was going to bring some currants back from my cottage. They have been there 2 years and are not really growing. They are not dead either, but a very slow growth pace. Last fall I stuck some black currant sticks in. Most grew but a couple, the buds died. So I was going to plant my cottage currants in these spots. When I dug one up slowly, darn, there was a bud coming up, just under the ground. This stick was in the ground since October, it grew buds that died, otherwise nothing. And here almost May now, 7 months later, it started growing! Argh! I left the other one that looked dead alone, and now it has a new bud! 7 of 7 are alive! Brambles and currants are tough, give them time.
Oh the cottage currants are now in root pouches, as all the spots are taken! I took 5 of them and left 3 up there, but I think I’m going to pull them next time I go up.


Yours look a lot better than any of mine have during this process.


These have all been spring shipments. So they may be plants dug last fall and stored bareroot all this time.

Need to go outside and cover some things. We had bloom in January and still having a freeze warning tonight.

4 types from Indiana Berry all did well. Ones from Lowes and Walmart died.

Yes, probably well if you want to try again maybe Bay Laurel would make more sense? Say we have a Burr oak tree. The ones from CA are not going to grow here in MI and the MI ones probably will not grow in CA. Maybe the problem is location, too much of a change, maybe? Although Raintree is in-between, and I have CA trees, so who knows? I would try fall planting too.
Sorry for all the speculation which is really useless. If you do figure it out, let us know,
On another subject, It looks like about half my tree fruit buds died, not all of them, I have some flowers forming (Yes!). I won’t have to thin as much.

I’ve have mixed results with raspberries. I have had good success with gurneys. Both their blackberries and raspberries. Have ordered 14 from them and only one died, but that was my fault. I have found that starting them in pots the first year has increased my success rate. last year I bought some through raintree and somewhere else(can’t remember) and just stuck them in the ground and had terrible outcome. All 3 Carolines died, lost 1 of 2 jewels and the 3 jaclyns barely made it with little growth.

I bought 5 polka and 5 prelude this year and just put them in the ground 3 weeks ago. So far, I see one new primocane coming up.

I ordered 2 Anna and 2 Heritage Raspberries last year from Berries Unlimited and they grew well. I cut them back to 3 inches and planted them in January. The blackberry I got never sprouted. I had read that blackberry roots are sensitive to light.

This year I bought 2 baba raspberries from Bay Laurel. They did well also. They were about 18 inches high and I did not trim them back. They actually have fruit on them. Yea, I know should have picked them off but raspberries are short lived here. I don’t think it will hurt them.

I think I read an article from Extension service that they suggested growing raspberries as an annual, getting the nursery to ship plants 3 feet long and letting them fruit the first year like strawberries. Seems expensive to me.

I bought 2 mysore raspberries from FHN and 1 caroline raspberry. They all did well even though they were small plants.

If someone wants to buy from a box store it is best to get them as soon as they arrive. The store’s atmosphere will dry them out and also bring them out of dormancy. If they freeze or root hairs dry out that alone can cause them to die.

Fruitnut, all I can think of is maybe the raspberries broke dormancy and used up all the reserves or maybe the root hairs dried out and that could have caused the high death rate. But you have way more experience than I have.

Are you sure the critters aren’t eating them before you see the leaves?