Raspberry Pruning: Information On How To Prune Raspberry Plants

In the following paragraphs we will share with you some information about raspberry pruning. You may find it useful when planning your next raspberry planting or even just after one!

The first thing to do is to decide which type of plant you want to grow. There are two types of raspberries; red and black. Red berries have a sweet taste while black ones are bitter. Black raspberries need more care than their red counterparts because they tend to produce many leaves and branches at once.

Black raspberry plants usually reach 2 feet (60 cm) high and 3 feet (90 cm) wide. They have long stems, narrow leaves, and large clusters of flowers on short stalks.

Red raspberry plants are smaller than black ones. They have slender stems, small leaves, and few flowers. Red raspberries require less care because they produce fewer leaves and branches at a time.

If you’re growing raspberries for the first time, then you’ll probably want to choose a type that’s not too big or too small so that you can easily move them around during the season.

Raspberries grow in well-drained soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.8. They prefer to grow in ditches, fields, or other areas where their roots can be exposed to sunlight. Don’t plant your raspberries in places that are prone to flooding or places that remain soggy for long periods of time.

If you’re planting raspberries for the first time, then we recommend that you choose the former of the two planting techniques described below.

Planting Raspberries – New Plants

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Many nurseries sell containerized raspberry plants in the spring. Containerized plants are usually sold in 4-inch pots (10 cm) and contain one or two canes. Containerized plants are planted in the spring or fall.

Dig a hole big enough to accommodate the roots of your raspberry plant. Insert the plant into the hole and backfill it with soil. Pile soil around the base of the plant and firm it gently to keep it in place.

When you’re done, the top of the root ball shouldn’t be visible; it should be at ground level. Spread a 3-inch layer of mulch around the base of the plant.

If you’re planting new raspberry plants in the fall, then wait three or four weeks before trimming the canes to 6 inches (15 cm) above ground level.

If you’re planting new raspberry plants in the spring, then wait four or five weeks before trimming the canes to 5 inches (12.5 cm) above ground level.

Planting Raspberries – Layering

A second technique for planting raspberries is known as layering. This method can be used if you want to propagate your own plants. It involves no initial cost, but it does require your time and effort.

You need to find a healthy 2- to 3-year-old cane on your raspberry plant that has several unpotted adventitious buds along its length. These buds will eventually grow into new stems.

In late spring or early summer, choose a cane that is between 12 inches and 3 feet (30 and 90 cm) long. Prune off all of the leaves and some of the bark from the lower 12 inches (30 cm) of the cane.

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You need to protect the exposed portion of the cane so that it doesn’t dry out. You can do this by creating a water-holding container from a paper cup.

Dig a 12-inch (30 cm) deep hole so that the bottom of the hole is just above the level of the unpotted adventitious buds. Place the cane upright in the hole and cover it with soil so that it stands 12 inches (30 cm) above the ground.

Stick a pencil or other slender object into the ground so that it props up one side of the cane. This will allow the water to slowly drain out of the cup and prevent it from rotting.

Fill the paper cup with water and place it around the unpotted adventitious buds. Check on it every day and add more water as necessary so that the cup doesn’t dry out. The unpotted adventitious buds will grow into new canes that will produce shoots and more unpotted adventitious buds later in the summer.

After the shoots grow to 12 inches (30 cm) in length, prune off all of the unpotted adventitious buds and any weak or damaged shoots. You should be left with a healthy, strong cane that has one unpotted adventitious bud at the top. This bud will grow into a new root system for your raspberry bush.

Dig a 7-inch (17.5 cm) deep hole so that the bottom of the hole is just above the level of the unpotted adventitious bud. Plant the cane in the hole and backfill it with soil so that it stands 12 inches (30 cm) above ground level.

Water the unpotted adventitious bud and then mound soil around the base of the plant so that it will hold moisture around the new root system. Spread a 3-inch (7.5 cm) layer of mulch around the plant.

When you’re done, the unpotted adventitious bud should be at ground level. Spread a 3-inch (7.5 cm) layer of mulch around the base of the plant.

Care And Maintenance Of Newly Planted Raspberries

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Watering: It’s important to keep new raspberry plants moist until their root systems have become well-established. You can water newly planted raspberries with a water wand or hand-watering can. Once the plants’ roots systems are well-developed, you only need to water them during extended dry spells.

Weed Control: Keep weeds from going around your raspberry plants as they will compete with your bushes for water and nutrients. If the area around your plants doesn’t naturally slope away from the plants, consider creating a shallow moat around them to prevent weed growth.

Pest Control: Keep an eye out for common raspberry pests such as aphids, leafhoppers and snails. Spray your raspberries with a ready-to-use insecticide/chemical solution or dust if you notice a problem developing.

Fertilizing: Raspberry bushes don’t need to be fertilized as they develop their root systems in the first year. In the future, you should only fertilize them once a year in early spring. Use a low-nitrogen fertilizer as too much nitrogen will produce lush foliage but few or no berries.

Once your raspberries are well-established (after their first growing season), you can begin training the canes to grow in a outward pattern (as opposed to upwards) by pushing them gently to the side as they grow.

When To Pick Raspberries: You can begin picking your raspberries as soon as the red blush color starts to develop on them. If you pick them too green (when they are light pink), they won’t ripen and you’ll be able to hear a snap when you bend them between your fingers. If you pick them when they are deep red, you should be able to slightly bend them between your fingers without snapping them.

After picking your raspberries, don’t wash them until you are ready to use them (no more than a day or so). Don’t refrigerate them because this will cause them to turn colors faster than normal.

Canning Raspberries: Place raspberries in jars (do not add sugar) and heat until the juice “flows” (you’ll hear a hissing sound).

Recommended Varieties: Can be grown from purchased plants or from unpotted adventitious buds on wild plants.

Black Pearl: (top); high yielding and self-fertile (self-pollinating). Black raspberries are the best for making jams and jellies. This is the most widely grown variety in the US.

Herbst: (bottom); early bearing. Grows to be about 4 feet (1.2 m) tall and produces long, lean canes that need lots of room to grow.

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Latham: (bottom); a late-bearing variety great for the South. It grows medium-sized canes and ripens later than most other varieties. It was developed in Texas and is disease resistant.

Bababerry: (top); a thornless variety that ripens before Boyne. It is a heavy bearer and an excellent variety for fresh eating, juicing and cooking.

Aurora: (top); this thornless variety has large berries and is very popular in the Pacific Northwest. It does best in USDA Hardiness Zones 5-9.

Earliblue: (top); this thornless variety has good resistance to diseases and insects and it is a heavy bearer. It ripens later than other varieties, making it somewhat self-fertile.

Tips To Remember:

If you live at a high elevation (above 3000 feet), choose low-growing varieties. If you live at a lower elevation, plant the tall varieties as they will grow much better.

Raspberries are best planted in soil that has been undisturbed for many years (like in a wooded area); do not plant them in first year cornfields or land that has had potatoes grown on it within three years.

Do not plant your raspberries where tomatoes, peppers or eggplants have grown in the last three years.

Don’t plant raspberries in beds that have had carrots, onions or garlic planted in them within the last two years.

Never eat or handle dead rats (or dead anything else for that matter) after planting raspberries as this will surely lead to rats eating your berries.

Raspberries should not be planted where onions, leeks, garlic or shallots have been grown during the last 3 years.

Be careful when planting your raspberries as they have a tendency to spread out and are difficult to contain. For best results, plant them in raised beds.

White pine trees will often grow where raspberries are planted, so if you have white pine trees on your property, you probably shouldn’t plant raspberries.

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Blackberries are very fragile plants. They need lots of sunshine and need their roots shaded; therefore, they do not grow well in North Dakota.

It is illegal to import blackberry plants into some states due to the rampant spread of these berries. Check with your state department of agriculture before you order any plants.

Everbearing blackberries produce fruit in the summer and fall. Everbearing blackberries also produce fruit in the spring, however these plants are not as hardy and don’t grow as large as regular everbearing types. These do not produce any fruit in the winter. June bearing blackberries produce fruit in the summer only.

Black raspberries need another type of raspberry nearby to cross-pollinate or they will not bear fruit. If you have a row of one variety, half of them will not produce any fruit.

If you want to make your own black raspberry jam, you should crush the berries (with their hulls) in a clean linen cloth. Then place them in a bowl and stir vigorously. After a few minutes, the juice and pulp will be separate from the seeds and hulls.

Before you plant blackberries, be sure to read the section on blackberries in Part 2 of this book. It will tell you all you need to know about planting and growing these wonderful plants.

If you live in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 or 5, choose an everbearing blackberry that is resistant to the dreaded anthracnose fungus. If you live in Zones 6 or 7, you can safely plant any variety.

Arrange to have your blackberry bushes planted so that their crowns (roots) are just at ground level. If you don’t, the plants will produce much smaller berries and will be more susceptible to disease and aphids.

There are many types of blackberries. Most people think that they can only be grown in the deep South where the climate is hot and humid all summer, but this is a common misconception. In reality, blackberries grow best in cooler climates such as the Pacific Northwest and in states such as Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Oregon and even New York! These plants can also be grown in Southern areas such as Texas and Florida and in states such as Missouri, Kentucky and West Virginia. In fact, there are varieties of blackberries that will grow just about anywhere in the United States.

The key is to choose the right varieties for your climate.

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Blackberries like an acidic soil (pH of 4.5 to 5.5). If your soil is alkaline, you can lower it by adding peat or acidic soil.

Arrange to have your plants planted so that the roots are just at ground level. This will ensure that the roots develop properly. If you plant blackberries too deeply, they won’t grow very well or they may die altogether.

To prevent the spread of viruses, don’t Grow blackberries from cuttings. Always buy plants that are at least one year old. In addition, blackberries can be propagated by laying down a mulch (such as pine needles) over an area that you wish to fill in and then just leave it alone. Blackberry canes will pop up in the mulched area.

In the first two years, blackberries need to be fertilized. Apply nitrogenous fertilizer such as 13-13-13 at the onset of each season. (Use a low nitrogen fertilizer in late summer.)

Blackberries are usually at their sweetest and juiciest in mid to late summer. In some parts of the country they may be ripe by July 4th, and in other parts of the country they may not be ripe until September. Always pick them when they are fully ripe or they will taste tart.

Pull off and pick each berry individually. If you try to strip the berries off, they will tear.

After picking the berries, always wash your hands thoroughly to avoid infecting other parts of the plant.


Aphids: Aphids are small, soft-bodied, green, red, yellow, or black insects that grow wings. They pierce the blackberry leaf with their mouth and suck out the sap. This causes the leaf to curl. They also transmit viruses among plants.

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Treating aphids: If the infestation is light, you can spray them off with a blast of water. If the infestation is heavy, in addition to spraying them off, apply “Sevin” or “Suspend” at the rate for insects on the back of the container.

Mealybugs: Mealybugs look like little pieces of white cotton and they attack the stems and leaves of the plant. The stems will swell up where they have bitten into it.

Treating mealybugs: Pick them off by hand and destroy them. You can also spray the plant with “Sevin” or “Suspend” in water at the rate specified on the container.

Sources & references used in this article:

Root pruning effects on growth and yield of red raspberry by RL Darnell, HE Alvarado-Raya, JG Williamson – HortScience, 2008 – journals.ashs.org

Pruning the Red Raspberry. by S Johnston, RE Loree – 1927 – pdfs.semanticscholar.org

Dry matter partitioning, carbohydrate composition, protein reserves, and fruiting in ‘Autumn Bliss’ red raspberry vary in response to pruning date and cane … by PB de Oliveira, MJ Silva, RB Ferreira, CM Oliveira… – …, 2007 – journals.ashs.org

Effect of height of pruning on size of berries and yield in the Latham raspberry by WG Brierley – 1931 – conservancy.umn.edu


Pruning Date and Cane Density Affect Primocane Development and Yield ofAutumn Bliss’ Red Raspberry by PB Oliveira, CM Oliveira, AA Monteiro – HortScience, 2004 – journals.ashs.org

Scheduling primocane-fruiting raspberries (Rubus idaeus L.) for year-round production in greenhouses by chilling and Summer-pruning of canes by A Dale, S Pirgozliev, EM King… – The Journal of …, 2005 – Taylor & Francis

Effects of between-row spacing and training method on yield and plant characteristics of mechanically harvested’Meeker’red raspberry by PC Crandall, EB Adams – 1979

Spread of raspberry bushy dwarf virus by pollination, its association with crumbly fruit, and problems of control by LW Martin, E Nelson – IV International Rubus and Ribes Symposium …, 1985 – actahort.org



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