Care and Maintenance for Small Fruit Plants

— Written By Bill Skelton and last updated by
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Photo Credit: The Spruce

Now that you have purchased small fruit plants, or asparagus, from the Haywood Master Gardener Edibles Plant Sale, you need to know how best to care and maintain them. Following is a tip sheet on Avoiding Common Mistakes, along with some links to specific information for the different fruit plants you purchased.


  • Avoid planting roots too deep or too shallow-they will not flourish.
  • Don’t leave soil loose around the plant roots-take care to pack it firmly.
  • Avoid planint near wild plants, or near plants whose origins are unknown.
  • Don’t water every day-water well, 1-3 times a week to maintain adequate moisture levels.
  • Avoid fertilizer burn. Hold off on fertilizing until plants are well established.
  • Plant all the roots of the plant without cutting the roots.
  • Avoid planting in the shade-all of these plants prefer full sun and will not thrive in shady spots. A half-day of full sun or more is necessary to ripen your berries.
  • A 10-10-10 fertilizer is recommended for these plants with the exception of blueberries which will do best with ammonium sulfate.

Strawberry Plants

  • Avoid planting in soils where previous crops have included strawberries, raspberries, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, or peppers. These crops may harbor soil pathogens, which may affect your new plants.
  • Do not mulch using materials like decayed or wet leaves that tend to mat down and can smother plants.
  • Do not renovate day neutral strawberries.

Raspberry and Blackberry Plants

  • Don’t plant roots too deep.
  • Avoid planting in soils where tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant, or raspberries havwe previously been grown. These crops may harbor soil pathogens, which may affect your new plants.
  • Avoid planting green tissue culture plants until after danger of frost has passed.
  • Do not mulch brambles beyond the first year.
  • Do not mow down summer-bearing raspberries; they fruit on 2 year old canes. Remove the canes that bore fruit the previous year.


  • Do not harvest any spears the first year.
  • Be careful not to damage emerging spears when cutting below the soil surface during harvest.
  • Avoid planting in soil that doesn’t have pH between 7.0-7.2, because Asparagus requires very sweet soil.
  • Do not add compost to soil until plants are growing.


  • Don’t forget that Blueberries require an acidic soil with pH between 5-5.5.
  • Do not use leaves or excessive sawdust as mulch. Either can limit or prevent rains from reaching the soil and plant roots.
  • Excessive sulfur can be toxic. Application of sulfur does not change the acidity quickly.
  • Do not apply fertilizer at planting.
  • Do not apply fertilizer in late summer or early fall. This could lead to new, succulent growth that is susceptible to winter injury and may lead to entry points for disease.

For information sheets on specific small fruits you can click on the appropriate link below:

Growing Blueberries in the Home Garden

Strawberries in the Home Garden

Blackberries for the Home Garden

Raspberries for the Home Garden

Asparagus in the Home Garden