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The Best Soft Fruit Plants (as Chosen by Our Growers)

best soft fruit plants
by Ally North Ally North

If you could only choose one variety of strawberry, which would you pick? We’re asked this question a lot! Obviously we love ALL of our fruit plants, and the long answer is that it depends on your garden conditions - what grows best in full sun, partial shade, pots or in the ground, what taste you prefer, what you want to use the fruit for and when you want to harvest. But if we’re really pushed to choose, we admit it - we do have our favourites!

In our opinion, these are the varieties to watch…

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Best strawberry plant

Any strawberry grown in season in the UK is going to taste fantastic - especially compared to the out-of-season imported ones in the shops that haven't been allowed to ripen fully. If you’ve enjoyed strawberries from a pick-your-own farm, there’s a good chance that they were Cambridge Favourites. This beloved strawberry variety tastes super sweet and produces a plentiful crop - just as well it’s great in jams too! It’s also unfussy about soil and growing conditions, and happy in a pot.

strawberry plant

Best raspberry plant

Raspberries crop either in summer or autumn, so I’m going to cheat slightly and recommend one of each.

Summer fruiting: Glen Ample is an RHS award winning raspberry that’ll give you an impressive 2kg of fruit per plant every year. For this reason (and of course the taste!) it’s probably the most widely grown summer fruiting raspberry.

Autumn fruiting: Polka may possibly be the best tasting raspberry you can get - grow it and tell us what you think! With a great taste, huge crops and a long picking season from August to October, you can expect 2.5kg per plant in a good year.

Which one you prefer depends on when you want to pick your berries. Summer fruiting varieties crop roughly from June to September and autumn fruiting from August to October. Real raspberry fans combine both kinds for an extra long fruiting season.


Best blueberry plant

Our grower John swears by blueberries and says you can’t go wrong with any of the different kinds. They’re easy to grow (always use ericaceous compost), hardy and thrive in pots.

For decorative appeal though, we love Sunshine Blue, a neat and compact evergreen blueberry which also features pink flowers in spring. Best of all, it’s self fertile and produces heaps of sweet and tangy, vitamin packed berries each July.

blueberry plant

Best gooseberry plant

It’s got to be Invicta - this smooth-skinned, pale green gooseberry with a pink flush is sweeter than standard gooseberries and is very undemanding, with superb disease and pest resistance. 

It’s also brilliant for cooking and freezes well, maintaining its shape, colour and flavour - just as well since it produces almost double the amount of fruit that other gooseberries can.

gooseberry plant

Best blackcurrant plant

Ben Sarek because it’s really compact at only 1.2m tall, but you’ll get a crop to equal that of a much bigger plant - in fact in trials, it produced 30% more than standard varieties. The rich, juicy berries are ready from mid July and as a bonus, the lovely pink blossom will attract bees and butterflies to your garden.


Best redcurrant plant

All redcurrant varieties will give you a good crop without too much fuss, but Jonkheer van Tets wins on taste and reliability. It ripens early, with glossy, vitamin C-packed berries ready for picking at the start of July. It’s very easy to care for - plant it in the ground for best results - and has the added distinction of an RHS Award of Garden Merit.

For something a bit different, try a pink Gloire de Sablons or a White Versailles currant.


Best blackberry plant

Blackberries are a must-have fruit - if you don’t have any wild ones growing near you (or just want to skip the shredded arms and nettled legs) try growing our favourite cultivated variety, Waldo. Even young plants produce impressive crops from late August to September.

The berries are bigger and sweeter, on a much more compact plant that you can even grow in a pot. And the best part? No thorns.


Best grapevine

Grape vines can be grown indoors and out and it’s really a matter of preference whether you go for a white or red variety. For all round ease of growing and flavour, however, you’d have to go a long way to beat Boskoop Glory. This award winning deep blue-purple grape tastes as good as it looks and can be grown indoors or out. It’s also one of the most reliable varieties. Eat fresh from the vine or make your own wine.

boskoop glory grapes

Best kiwi fruit

If you’ve not tried growing kiwi fruits yet, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is and how great the plants look! Jenny is the best variety for beginners - a self fertile variety (so you’ll only need one) that’s hardy, vigorous and great for smaller gardens or conservatories. The fruits are ready to pick between August and September - use them in fruit salads and smoothies or just eat them straight from the vine.


Best fig tree

Brown Turkey Fig grows well,” says John, “it’s resistant to most pests and diseases and it crops better than any fig in the UK. It’s compact - you can grow it in a pot or train it up a wall - and I think it’s got the best taste of any fig.” Who are we to argue with a man who grows over a hundred tree varieties? Brown Turkey nails it.

brown turkey fig

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