Blackberries and raspberries are sweet fruits that grow across the United States. Like most fruit-producing trees and bushes, blackberry and raspberry bushes require regular pruning and maintenance to keep the plants healthy and producing their flavourful berries. Both of these plants are subject to devastating diseases that can be prevented by routine maintenance. While these plants are similar, blackberries don't grow as fast as raspberries, which makes their pruning requirements slightly different.
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Things you need
- Hand pruners
Put on a pair of thick gloves if your blackberry bushes have thorns. Some newer varieties of blackberry bushes have little to no thorns, but most common varieties do.
Snip off the growing tips from the branches of newly planted blackberry bushes. This encourages the plant to grow additional lateral side shoots for next season's blackberries to grow.
Prune back any canes, or branches, that produced fruit this season in the fall after the year's harvest is complete.
Prune canes to about five or seven per plant in the early spring. Side branches should be pruned to no longer than 12 inches in the early spring to encourage growth.
Cut back dead or diseased canes immediately, regardless of the time of year. The faster you can eliminate sick canes, the better you'll be able to prevent the disease from spreading.
Put on a pair of thick gloves as raspberry bushes also feature very sharp thorns.
Prune back all of the canes that produced fruit this past season. This trimming is best performed in the late fall or the early spring. These canes are identifiable by looking at their bark, which will be peeling and appear grey in colour.
Prune away any short or weak-looking canes in the late fall or early spring.
Remove any canes that have grown beyond 12 to 18 inches of the bush in the late fall or early spring. This is to control the plant's suckers from spreading the plant out too big. A larger bush will not produce any more fruit than a properly maintained one.
Trim away the canes, keeping only four or five of the thickest, tallest and healthiest canes per foot. This is best done in the late fall or early spring.
Trim away any canes that stick up outside of your designated row area as the bush grows in the summer.
Cut dead, broken or diseased canes at any time. These will cause the plant to develop disease that can spread rapidly.
Tips and warnings
- Do not leave the pruned canes on the ground. Remove them by throwing them in the garbage or burn them. Dead canes spread disease.
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