Raspberries are a spring-blooming and summer-fruiting perennial shrub. Grown in four main varieties of red, black, purple and gold, raspberry plants are classed as either ever-bearing or summer bearing. All varieties of raspberries grow woody canes emanating from the plant crown. Fruit is produced on the canes, known as primocanes and floricanes. Ever-bearing plants grow berries on one-year-old canes called primocanes in the fall and produce summer fruit on the same canes the following season. Summer-bearing plants grow a single harvest of raspberries on second-year canes called floricanes in the summer and fall. Floricanes are always pruned back at the end of fruiting to encourage growth of new primocanes. Some varietals of raspberries perform better than others in certain climates and conditions, but all four main varietals can successfully be grown in any climate where raspberries are hardy.
The classic red raspberry is a fast grower with an aggressive sprawling habit. When growing summer-bearing red raspberries, look for the following cultivars: Algonquin, Boyne, Chilcotin, Hilton, Gatineau, Reveille, Taylor and Williamette. When seeking ever-bearing plants, look for Amity, Autumn Britten, Heritage, Caroline, Nova, Red Wing and Autumn Bliss.
Black raspberries, commonly referred to a blackcaps, tend to be slightly less aggressive in their spreading habit than their red cousins, but can still produce heavy harvests. When looking to grow black raspberries, seek out the following summer-bearing varietals: Bristol, Blackhawk, Jewell, Clarendon, MacBlack, Chester and Triple Crown.
Golden raspberries are a mutation of red raspberries, and they are identical in every way save coloration. Though some insist golden raspberries are sweeter than red, it may be the honeyed coloring fooling the taste buds. If you want to plant golden raspberries, look for the following ever-bearing cultivars: Fall Gold, Goldie, Kiwi Gold, Golden Harvest, Anne and Autumn Bliss.
Purple raspberries are either natural or cultivated hybrid blends of red and black raspberries. Look for ever-bearing purple raspberry varietals under the names Brandywine, Sodus, Success and Royalty.