Sunday, December 4, 2011

Pruning Raspberries And A Word Of Caution

Where do you start when your raspberries look like this?
Get down under them and you can see pretty easily which ones need to go.
It is very clear here, which canes are new and which are old. Green means new, Brown means old.
In the fall I prune my raspberries. When I tell people that, they get very animated about how they don't know what to prune or that they didn't even know raspberries were supposed to be pruned. So I took some pictures this time. It's pretty simple and not too much of a chore especially if you have semi-thorn less berries like our Tulameen variety.
Raspberries at their peak in June.
If you don't want to have your canes fall over when they are heavy with fruit you can also top your canes in the spring at 4.5 to 5 feet. Don't feel bad because it encourages the cane to branch out more which increases the fruit yield .
If you look closely at the dark cane left of center you will see that it has been topped. It compensated by making long side branches for more fruit.
The raspberry bed looks pretty sparse after pruning but it will be very lush by next June.
Raspberries have two types of canes every year. Primocanes, which are the canes that came up as babies while you were picking fruit this summer.
The canes you picked the fruit off of are called floricanes and they have given their raspberries and are now going to turn brown and die.
Next year the primocanes graduate and become floricanes, which bloom (floral) and make berries.
And so on.
You don't have to prune out the old canes but pruning out the old spent canes makes room for sun to come in to the fruiting canes next summer. The more sun they get, the sweeter and yummier the berries are. So to me it's worth it.
If you have everbearing raspberries the process is different. Although I know gardeners who have started mowing down their everbearing varieties in the early spring so they will get one crop in the late summer instead of two small crops in the spring and fall. They would rather have one bearing of fruit than just little dribbles of fruit in the spring and fall.

Now the warning. This is a case of "Do as I say and not as I do" or better, "learn from my mistake".

When you see this:
What do you feel? That's just what I was feeling last summer. So with that gluttonous mood driving me, I dug up several little Tulameen plants from the garden and planted another row near my blueberries. It seemed like the logical place, since the earth was already fluffy, weed free and the drip system was already set up there.

What a  mistake. Don't plant raspberries near blueberries.
They love to send runners all through the sawdust mulch around the blueberries and if you go to pull the raspberry runners out, they rip up the shallow roots of the blueberries. And without completely uprooting the blueberries you can't get all of the raspberry runners out.
What a sad discovery this is for me. I had just gotten my first small crop of blueberries this year and getting rid of the raspberries will surely set the blueberries back a year.
Live and learn.


  1. Good to know about the raspberries / blueberries. Our berry patch has both, but they are in two separate beds, about 10' apart. Hopefully that's enough to keep 'em where they are supposed to be.
    Thanks for all the pictures! Sure beats a book that just says "prune the old canes". Oh. Ok. As if I knew what an old cane looked like my first year.

  2. Welcome Carolyn! I'm so glad that you found the pictures helpful. It sounds like your beds of berries will be fine. I have in the past always planted my raspberries in far corners and odd places that always had lawn around them so I never had trouble with them before. Any new runners just got mowed off. Now I know that is the perfect way to have them.

  3. Would you still prune back raspberries when they are young? We planted some this summer but they barely grew. I don't think there is much to cut off.

  4. Robin, you don't need to worry about pruning until raspberries are in their third year. You can trim out the dead canes the first two years, but they are so small it really doesn't matter. It's not really an issue until they get big and dense enough to shade the new canes.


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