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Pruning Raspberries [Complete Guide With Seasons & Methods]

Due to their growth habits, pruning Raspberries is difficult even for experienced green thumbs.

Forethinking the correct time and place while pruning can make the job trouble-free.

Generally, early spring or late winter is the best time for pruning Raspberry bushes by cutting the old spent canes. Before pruning, harvest the fruits, and with sterilized pruners, snip about 2-3 inches at the top of the canes or cut the canes close to the soil surface.

Raspberries become bushy as they grow in clumps, creating a menace while trimming. Let’s learn the correct way to prune Raspberries from the article!

Raspberry Canes Too Tall! [Need for Pruning Raspberries]

Raspberry plants or bushes come in 2 varieties; summer-bearers and fall-bearers.

These plants shoot out long stems called “canes” or top shoots from their base, which are of 2 types; floricanes – fruiting stems and primocanes – vegetative stems.

Primocanes are the first year’s growth transforming into floricanes bearing fruits during their second year. Hence, floricanes are the second year’s growth.
Image represents spent canes of a Raspberry bush
Spent or old canes create many blockages and prevent new branches’ growth.

Raspberry roots are perennial, but the canes are biennial. Thus, you can enjoy their fruits for only 2 consecutive summers.

However, pruning becomes crucial once the canes are old enough and jumble among each other.

  • Pruning makes Raspberry plants more productive and vigorous in producing fruits.
  • Trimming the plant at different angles helps manage space and promote vegetative growth.
  • Additionally, it encourages Raspberry bushes to shoot out new branches for the following season.

What Happens If You Don’t Prune Raspberries?

Annually Pruning Raspberries makes them loosen up, allowing them to spread their canes freely.

Sporadic pruning results in the overgrowth of canes, competition between the canes for sunlight and nutrients, and death of lower portions in leaves and buds.
Image represents ripening fruits of Raspberries
Ripe berries in the Raspberry plant may indicate that it needs plucking and pruning!

Furthermore, each Raspberry varieties have distinct ‘trim-tables.’

So, you must prune the Red Raspberries (summer-bearers) during early spring (March, April & May).

For pruning Everbearing Raspberries (fall-bearers), aim late winter.

Additionally, both varieties show different signs of pruning.

For summer-bearers, it is necessary to prune the spent floricanes. Some signs are as follows.

  • Ripening of berries
  • Leaves turning yellow or red
  • Senescence of floricanes

However, fall-bearers require pruning when primocanes suffer leaf fallout and the stem develops thick brown bark.

Image illustrates the primocanes and floricanes of a Raspberry plant
After the first year’s growth, primocane develops flowers and fruits, converting them into floricane.

How To Prune Raspberries?

The methods for pruning summer Raspberries and fall Raspberries are almost identical.

Pruning Red Raspberries (Summer-Bearers)

  • For summer-bearers, select the canes that look old and brown (spent floricanes).
  • Using sterilized pruners, take each floricanes and snip off 2-3 inches from the top.
  • Better to cut back to the ground level if there is too much overcrowding.

Pruning Everbearing Raspberries (Fall-Bearers) 

  • For fall-bearers, sort out the canes from which you have recently picked the fruits.
  • Take each cane by hand and cut the entire bush to the ground with disinfected gear.
  • Collect all the debris and place them for composting.
Image illustrates the way of pruning Raspberries
Before pruning, strip the plant away of all the ripe berries, work your way from the top to the base, and remove all the spent or old canes.

Tips for Pruning Raspberries

  • Harvest the fruits before pruning and prune the buds to have fewer but bigger fruits.
  • Avoid the healthy-green primocanes while pruning Red Raspberries, and trim only the spent floricanes.
  • Make the spacious area around the plant by cutting the current year’s canes while leaving 6 healthy canes on the bush.

Remove the damaged, weak-looking, or diseased canes, as they have the chance of getting infected by pests and diseases the most.

  • Perform trimming in spring to remove frost-damaged canes from last winter.
  • While growing Red Raspberries against a trellis, tie the healthiest primocanes to the supports and cut all others.
  • Remove the suckers present between the plant rows by cutting them from the base at ground level.
  • Borrow some healthy canes while pruning to propagate new Raspberry plants later in the seasons.

Get to know more about pruning Raspberries from the video below!

Care For Raspberries After Pruning

After pruning, tissues of the cut regions remain exposed, becoming susceptible to disease attacks.

Moreover, it’s ideal for maintaining the proper conditions for fostering new growth after pruning Raspberries. 

    • Apply organic fungicides around the cut area to reduce the cane canker disease infection.
    • Remove competitive weeds present around the plant.
    • Give the plant about 2 liters of water per week after pruning until the next growing season.
    • Use high nitrogen fertilizer in spring or winter after pruning to encourage new growth.
  • Avoid feeding the plant during summer or fall.
Image represents trellis for Raspberries
Primocanes of Raspberries may require some support to a trellis while growing throughout their initial days.
  • Provide the plant with full direct sunlight for 6-8 hours daily.
  • Maintain the surrounding temperature at least 12°C at night and around 18°C during the daytime.
  • Raspberries prefer to grow in sandy-loamy or deep sandy soil with pH levels between 5 and 6.7.
  • Sustain the relative humidity of 80-90% to promote new branches.
  • Replant pot-growing Raspberry bushes immediately after pruning while the plant avoids new growth.

From Editorial Team

The correct angle!

Hold a pruning angle of 45° while cutting the shoots during the trim sessions or taking shoot pieces for transplants.

This shall increase the surface area for new growth and allows the branches to take more water while propagating.

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