Creeping Raspberry: Lush Leaves And Vivid Fruit

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Are you looking for a low maintenance plant to replace your lawn, or fill your rock garden or woodland beds? Creeping raspberry makes one amazing and highly appealing ground cover that is tough and durable in nature. It’s got simple needs, and it’s worth growing in your garden!

Botanically known as Rubus hayata-koidzumi (and previously as Rubus calycinoides), creeping raspberry belongs to the Rosaceae family. It produces a mass of three-lobed leaves that form a dense mat to make an attractive ground cover. This all occurs on long cane-like stems. And it fruits, too!

Creeping raspberry belongs to the evergreen plant species. In winter, the leaves have bronze-colored undersides and a rust-like coloration. In summer, it produces white flowers, followed by bright colored fruit.

Besides growing it in your garden as a ground cover, you can plant it in a container or a hanging basket and use it as a cascading ornamental. It can make an outstanding bedding plant, and even can be used as a lawn replacement!

To help you out with planting this creeping plant, we’ve developed a comprehensive guideline to share all the details you’ll need to get started. So, let’s get into it right away and see what makes this Taiwanese plant such a great choice for you!

Good Products For Growing This Bramble:

Creeping Raspberry Plant Overview

Creeping raspberry berries are ripe
Creeping raspberry fruit can be golden, orange, or approaching red in color. Source: ECOgarden
Scientific Name: Rubus hayata-koidzumi (formerly Rubus calycinoides)
Common Name(s): Creeping raspberry, crinkle-leaf creeper
Family: Rosaceae
Height & Spread: 6″ to 12″ tall with outward spread of up to 24″/year
Sun: Full or partial sun ideal
Soil: Well-draining soil required
Water: Tolerant of drought, likes moist-to-dry soil conditions
Pests & Diseases: Scale, caterpillars, leafhoppers. Some fungal diseases.

About Creeping Raspberry

Creeping raspberry plants
The vine-like or cane-like stems of this plant spread out to fill space. Source: plj.johnny

Rubus hayata-koidzumi is surprisingly adaptable. It’ll grow well on difficult sites on hot and dry slopes and ditches. These can tolerate a bit of irregular watering and thrive in direct sunlight. Not many ground covers are this willing to adjust!

Creeping raspberry produces white flowers in summer, but these flowers can often get lost amidst the dense and rich foliage. At maximum height it can reach a foot tall, but it often stays in a thick 6″ mat along the ground. It spreads 12″-24″ outward per year on each cane-like stem. The stems are thorned, but the thorns are fairly soft rather than rigid and dangerous.

Although it’s an evergreen plant, the foliage turns vivid shades of red to purple in autumn and stays the same throughout the winter season. Creeping raspberry bears aggregate fruit, with each fruit a cluster of small seed-bearing parts connected together. The fruits look just like red raspberries, but are distinct in color. Vividly yellow to orange-red, they sometimes almost achieve true red coloration. Creeping raspberry also produces edible fruit right after the early summer bloom.

Space individual plants 4-6 feet apart to allow room for plant growth. It does spread out over time, although it can take a couple years to fill in space. It isn’t considered invasive, and it can act as a living mulch for spring bulbs and other plants.

Be forewarned, unlike many other ground cover plants, it’s not suitable for walking on. The flexible thorns can still poke you, and the plant doesn’t like being squished.

What Species Is Crinkle-Leaf Creeper?

At one point, the crinkle-leafed creeper was known as Rubus pentalobus. This was later renamed Rubus calcyinoides. Another variety, Rubus rolfei, was also joined together under the name Rubus calcyinoides. These names were all popular in the nursery trade.

But the botanical name has changed again. All of those are now named Rubus hayata-koidzumi.

This plant originates in Taiwan, where it’s often grown at higher elevations. Popular cultivars include Golden Quilt, Emerald Carpet, Green Carpet, and Formosan Carpet.

Creeping Raspberry Care

Contrary to its delicious counterparts, creeping raspberry makes an excellent ground cover
Contrary to its delicious counterparts, creeping raspberry makes an excellent ground cover. source

To keep this plant contained, you’ll need to use some garden edging. Metal, concrete, or brick edging that goes at least 4″ deep in the soil is best. It may spill over the top but is easy to keep trimmed back.

It’ll also grow well in containers, and can spill out prettily to make a draping curtain along raised beds.

Let’s talk about the best conditions for your plants, and how to keep them thriving!

Light & Temperature

This plant thrives in sunny areas, slopes, and ditches. While it flowers and fruits best in full sun conditions, partial shade is fine too. If you’re in a hot climate, afternoon shade is actually preferred to prevent scorching.

Creeping raspberry is winter-hardy down to zone 7. It performs best in zones 6 to 9. Colder-climate regions should mulch heavily around the plants to keep the roots safe from the cold.

Water

This creeping bramble is quite drought-resistant once established. When the plants are young, consistent watering can help fuel growth. Keep the soil moist, but not soggy. For older plants, allow the soil to dry before watering again.

Avoid standing water around your plants. Fungal-based root rot can develop in warm and wet conditions. High humidity environments may make them more susceptible to powdery mildew.

Soil

Creeping raspberry stems over soil
Your soil should be very well-draining, but should stay moist. Source: mutolisp

A wide variety of soil conditions are tolerated by this creeping berry. They’ll tolerate light acidity or light alkalinity well. Partial clay to partial sandy soils will work, although they prefer loam.

The biggest key to your soil is that it must drain excess water well. Poor drainage goes hand in hand with root rot conditions, too. If necessary, amend your soil with perlite to improve drainage.

Fertilizer

If you want to fertilize, I recommend doing so before you plant. Blend a small amount of 10-10-10 slow-release granular fertilizer through the soil. Don’t go overboard, simply add a sprinkling.

Once your soil’s prepared and you’ve planted, mulching helps prevent unwanted weeds. If you mulch with dry, shredded leaves, it will also mimic the natural mulch that your plants will make over time. As raspberry leaves fall from the plant, they deteriorate into the soil. They become its future fertilizer, too!

If you do want to fertilize an established bed of these creepers, use a 1-2″ layer of compost. Early spring is the best time to add this, as it will provide moisture control through the rest of the year. The deteriorating compost supplies any added nutrition they’ll need.

Propagation

Close up of Rubus hayata-koidzumi flower
A closeup of the flower of Rubus hayata-koidzumi. Source: Bushman.K

Propagation is best performed from young, healthy cuttings in the early summer months. Select a healthy stem and cut off a 6″ length. Remove all but a few leaves at the cutting’s tip. Place it in moistened potting soil, and keep in a dim location until roots form. Ensure that the soil stays moist. If possible, provide humidity around the cutting as well.

It’s far easier to find live plants than seeds for this species. Collecting your own seeds is your best bet if you want to start completely new plants.

To harvest seeds yourself, select overripe berries. The seeds are fully-formed in those, giving you the best chance of germination.

Mash the berries into a paste, being careful not to crush the seeds within the fruit. Dilute this paste with about an inch to two inches of water.

Cover with a lid and leave the contents for three days, stirring it at least once a day. After that, skim off anything that’s developed on the surface. The seeds should drop to the bottom of your container. You can then strain out the seeds. Plant them soon after harvesting.

Pruning

Pruning this creeping plant is a breeze. Most of your pruning will be to ensure it stays within its boundaries. Simply clip off excess foliage with a sterilized pair of pruners.

For people who’re growing this as a lawn replacement, an edger works very well for keeping it tidy. You may be able to train stems back into bare spots as well. It’s good to trim out any dead stems you discover.

In the winter, there may be some cosmetic damage to the leaves. While you can prune these, I leave them alone. Fallen leaves add to the natural leaf mulch that forms under the plant.

Problems

Late summer berries and foliage
In the late summer, the leaves start to turn to autumn colors. Source: Arthaey

Mostly maintenance-free, these creeping brambles are well worth your effort. But are you likely to encounter pest damage or odd diseases? Let’s talk about that.

Growing Problems

As the summer ebbs away, you might notice the leaves of your plant reddening. This is not actually a sign of a problem – it’s the natural state of your plant’s foliage! Unlike many other ground covers, creeping raspberry develops lovely fall color. So don’t panic, your plant’s not experiencing a problem.

Frost and freezes can cause cosmetic damage to your plant’s leaves. As long as there is a thick layer of mulch around your plants, the roots should be fine. They’ll rejuvenate in the spring.

Pests

As a rule, pests are uncommon on the crinkle-leaf creeper. Most pests that strike at it are opportunistic, and this is a replacement for a more favored food.

Scale insects can sometimes be found on the leaf axils or clustered along the stems. Usually these manifest as mealybugs, but there may be cottony scale as well. For large infestations, use a dormant horticultural oil to smother them. Neem oil is also effective.

Caterpillars may find the foliage to be a good food. If you’re noticing munched holes in your leaves, it’s time to strike back. Dust or spray with a bacillus thurigiensis treatment. This natural bacteria will kill off the larvae.

Every so often, leafhoppers can appear. These little green insects will be hard to spot amongst the small, tri-lobed leaves of your plants. Treat with neem oil or an insecticidal soap to wipe them out.

Birds are attracted to the fruit. Usually they won’t do damage to the plant itself.

As a bright note, this is a very deer-resistant plant! If you’re trying to maintain a deer-resistant landscape, this is an excellent choice.

Diseases

Orange rust is a common problem amongst trailing raspberry varieties. This systematic fungi has no cure. In very young plants, the leaves may be pale green to yellow. The plant’s growth will be spindly, and it won’t develop fruit. Remove and destroy infected plants before orange spore masses form and spread to others.

While it’s uncommon, anthracnose leaf spotting can happen. Treat with a sulfur or copper spray, or alternately use a biofungicidal agent. You can trim off spotted leaves to maintain the visual appeal.

Powdery mildew is rather common in more humid environments. The whitish dust that appears on leaf surfaces is actually fine spores, and it can rapidly spread. Neem oil will eliminate this issue.

Grey mold, also called botrytis, can appear at times. Biofungicides or copper-based fungicides are most effective at treating this fungus.

Verticillium wilt looks a lot like fusarium wilt. It causes the most damage in newly-germinated seedlings, but older plants aren’t immune. A soil-dwelling fungus, it can spread to infect all nearby plants. Remove damaged plants, and sterilize the soil before planting more in that location.

Frequently Asked Questions

Closeup of foliage and flower
Another flower, with some of the plant’s tri-lobed leaves visible. Source: plj.johnny

Here’s a couple common questions about this lovely plant!

Q. Is creeping raspberry edible?

A: As a matter of fact, yes. Most people won’t find a sizeable harvest from their creeping raspberry plants, though. You should be able to find at least a handful or two of berries in season, and they’re delicious.

Q. Is this plant invasive?

A: It’s not considered to be invasive. While it will continue to spread if left alone for years and years, it’s easy to trim it back to size.


If you’re looking for a low-lying plant, why not choose the creeping raspberry? You’ll have lush green foliage, occasional white flowers, and even potential fruit. Best of all, you’ll have an easy-care, low-maintenance plant which will thrive for years to come!


The Green Thumbs Behind This Article:

Kevin Espiritu
Founder

Lorin Nielsen
Lifetime Gardener

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