Easy Care for Raspberry and Blackberry Plants

Raspberry and blackberry plants, commonly called brambles, are fun fruit producing plants for the yard.

Their tasty fruit and easy grow nature make them a popular plant. In fact, they often grow so well that keeping up with pruning will be your biggest growing challenge.

The picture on the right shows two general pruning options.

The left side of the photo shows tall grass and bending canes covering the front of the canes' root system. Those interested in providing more wildlfie ground cover might consider a variation of this look, and prune every couple of years.

The right side of the photo shows a dirt patch in front of sprouting canes. Those interested in maximizing fruit production choose a pruning option that starts from this vantage point.

Rasberry pruning brings some safety issues, because the stickers on the canes are very sharp. Wearing proper attire helps reduce the potential for getting scratched.

Deciding on a pruning stragegy is a two step process. First, a look at the picture on the right shows a ground view of the canes.

Dead and dying brown canes should be removed by clipping them as close to the ground as possible.

Live green canes take two forms.

The plants grow clusters of canes which fruit every two years. The canes that you want to keep growing are the first year canes. They are commonly called primocanes, and your goal during pruning is to provide these canes with food, water and sunshine in order to get them ready for fruiting.

While raspberry and blackberry canes grow in most climates and soil condition, fruit production is maximized when the canes are placed in sunny areas with soil that drains well.

Experts differ on the amount of pruning that primocanes need during the summer growing season. Suggestions range from no pruning, to keeping the canes at a three to four foot height, depending on the cultivar of the plant.

Some simple late fall or early winter activities take care of primocane nutrition needs. The most sound long term nutrition advise for the plants would be keep the ground around the canes free of weeds. Adding a layer of mulch on the ground around the canes helps suppress weeds. As it begins to decompose it adds organic content to the soil, and the canes thrive in rich organic soil.

© 2006. Patricia A. Michaels