Care Guide: Berries and Bare Root Vegetables

— Written By Bill Skelton and last updated by
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Close up picture of ripening blueberries on a blueberry bush

Photo Credit: The Spruce

Now that you have purchased small fruit plants, or asparagus, from the NC State Extension 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.

Grapes & Berries for the Garden

Extension Gardener Handbook – Small Fruits


  • 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.

Asparagus in the Home Garden

Blackberry and Raspberry Plants

  • Don’t plant roots too deep.
  • Avoid planting in soils where tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant, or raspberries have 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.

Blackberries for the Home Garden

Raspberries for the Home Garden

Pruning Blackberries and Raspberries


  • Don’t forget that Blueberries require an acidic soil with pH between 5-5.5. Find out more information about soil tests.
  • 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.

Growing Blueberries in the Home Garden

Establishing a Blueberry Planting in WNC

Pruning Blueberries

Blueberry Pruning Video


  • Place plants 6-10 feet apart
  • Cover the plug with 1/2″ of soil
  • Avoid fertilizing the first year
  • Harvested in late summer
  • Prune early spring while still dormant

Growing Elderberry

Elderberry Production


  • Before planting, work your soil 8-12 inches deep
  • Add compost if you can or consider applying a complete fertilizer prior to planting
  • Plant root cuttings in early spring, put the square end higher than the angled end of the root
  • Cover the root cuttings with 2 inches of soil after planting
  • Space root cuttings 30 inches apart

Horseradish Factsheet

Growing Horseradish

Horseradish in the Garden

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.

Strawberries in the Home Garden

Growing Strawberries

More Questions?

Contact the Haywood Plant Clinic.