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How to Prune Fruit Bushes

Updated July 20, 2017

Pruning fruit bushes is necessary to promote proper growth and to increase berry production. It also helps prevent disease from spreading through all your plants. When you prune depends on the type of berry bush you have, as does the pruning method you use. Some bushes are also pruned more often than others--trailing blackberries, for example, are pruned once a season while others, such as black raspberries, are pruned three times a year.

Decide which type of blackberry bush you have--an erect one, such as the Cherokee, or a trailing one, such as loganberries and boysenberries. Pruning techniques are slightly different. Both types of blackberry bushes are biennial, meaning their canes produce fruit in the second year.

Cut the canes that produce fruit, the floricanes, back to the ground immediately after picking the berries.

Cut the top 1 to 2 inches off new erect blackberry canes when they reach 3 feet tall, and thin the plants in the winter to the strongest three to four canes. You don't need to "top" trailing blackberry bushes.

Leave blueberry bushes alone until the fourth year after planting. Shape the bush so that it is narrow at the base, open in the middle, and should contain canes of various ages.

Remove all diseased and damaged canes, as well as any that are 8 years old.

Choose two to four of the healthiest new canes, and remove the rest.

Cut each branch of a newly planted bush back to the fourth bud from the main stem.

Keep a few of the laterals, but cut the rest back to spurs in late winter or early spring, when the plants are dormant.

Keep three to four of the strongest new canes each year and cut back to the ground canes that are older than three years.

Prune gooseberry bushes so that the centres are open by cutting back branches to an upward-pointing bud on spreading bushes.

Chose three or four shoots on one-year old bushes and cut them back to about a quarter of their length, and cut other shoots back to the stem.

Cut six to eight branches of 2-year-old bushes to about half their length, and cut the others back to the first bud from the stem.

Remove or cut back to the ground all fruit-producing canes after the berries are picked. Raspberries, like blackberries, are biennial.

Prune red raspberry bushes in late March or early April by removing all weak and broken canes, and cutting back tall canes to about 5 feet.

Prune black and purple raspberry bushes twice besides after fruiting. In the spring, cut back lateral branches to 8 or 10 inches. In the summer, cut the top 2 to 3 inches of new canes once they reach 2 feet for black raspberries, and 30 inches for purple ones.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning sheers
  • Gardening or work gloves
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About the Author

Kate Hillsing has been a freelance writer and editor since 2005. Prior to that, she put her diploma in business administration to work in executive search and outplacement firms. She writes parenting articles for various print publications.