Raspberry Bushes: How And When To Prune Them Raspberry Bushes: How And When To Prune Them
Raspberry bushes are low maintenance plants, needing pruning only once a year. The raspberry is a tasty and delicious fruit that can grow in the wild or in your backyard. Prune in late winter or early spring after danger of frost has passed and before new growth begins. Dead canes can be removed in the fall to minimize overwintering disease.
TIP: Our expert gardening advisor, Karen Thurber adds, "There are both summer-bearing (floricane) and fall or everbearing (primocanes) types of raspberries. Primocane raspberries fruit on the first years canes.Floricane raspberries fruit on the second years canes in the summer. Each has it's own method of pruning. Here we are discussing how to prune raspberries that fruit in the summer, also called floricane raspberries."
Step 1 - Watch out for the Thorns
Raspberry bushes have sharp thorns. To protect your skin, put on your thick gloves and wear a long sleeved shirt and long pants. Safety glasses are also a good idea to protect your eyes.
Step 2 - Remove Dead Canes
With clean and sharp pruners or loppers, cut back all dead canes to ground level (these are the canes which have died during the last season). The removal of these canes is important even though they are dead.
TIP: Karen says, "Dead canes can be places for insects and diseases to live."
Step 3 - Prune Fruited Canes
Prune all raspberry canes that bore fruit because they will not produce anymore. You can recognize them by the color. They are grayish and the bark is peeling off.
Step 4 - Remove Weak Canes
Remove all canes that look weak or irregular. Insect infected canes should be burned or thrown into the regular trash; do not put them into the compost bin.
Step 5 -Thin the Newly Grown Canes
Thin the newly grown canes because raspberry bushes grow fast and vigorously. Leave the healthiest and sturdiest canes (about 3 to 5 per square foot). Leaving few, but healthy canes results in larger better fruit. Don’t top canes during the growing season. The remaining canes should be about chest height, but will vary by variety.
TIP: Karen adds, "After you are through pruning your raspberries, rake up dropped leaves to discourage homes for insects and diseases. It is also a great time to fertilize and mulch."
If you have done a good pruning job, you will see the results in your next harvest.
Tips and Tricks
Make sure that light and air can get inside the plants. To assure this, keep the raspberry plants growing in a row.
TIP: Karen adds, "Raspberries can be supported with stakes on each side of the row with wire or twine run between the stakes."
Along a fence you will have more trouble controling them, as raspberries tend to grow wild easily. If you have enough space in your garden, create rows. Prune the raspberry suckers that grow outside 12 to 18 inches of the row. Canes should have 4 to 6 inches between them for adequate air circulation.