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Ultimate Guide To Pruning Raspberries

Do you know that most green fingers find it difficult to prune raspberry plants because of their unique growth habit and varieties?

Since raspberry plants produce “canes” on which they bear colorful fruits, even experienced gardeners are baffled when pruning the plant.

In general, early spring or late winter is the best time for pruning raspberry varieties by cutting the old spent canes or fruiting branches. To prune, harvest the fruits first, and using sterilized pruners, cut about two to three inches at the top of canes or to the soil margin.

Image represents harvesting raspberry fruits
Prune the raspberry plant after harvesting the fruits.

Last summer, when I participated in horticultural training, I came to know the actual process of pruning berries with expert tools. As a result, I have maintained my raspberry plants in good shape.

Hence, let this article guide you if you want to experience the same.

Why Do You Need To Prune Raspberries?

Raspberries are perennial shrubs that come in two varieties; summer-bearers and fall-bearers.  

In spite of being shrubs, people commonly call them “raspberry bush” because of their clumpy growth habit.

Raspberries grow uniquely by forming long stems called “canes” or top shoots, which are also two types; floricanes – producing fruits and primocane – producing vegetative growth.

Image represents the primocane and floricane in raspberry plant
Prune the spent floricane after harvesting the berries.

However, if you think that the plant is frank enough to produce fruits all the time due to its perennial nature, then you are dead wrong!

Only the roots are perennial, but the canes are biennial. This means that you can enjoy the fruits for only two consecutive summers.

However, once the canes are old enough and form messy growth, it is time to prune them, which has certain advantages.

  • It makes the plant ever productive and vigorous in producing fruits.
  • It helps manage space and promote vegetative growth.
  • It also encourages plants to produce new branches for the next season.

What Happens If You Don’t Prune Raspberries?

Pruning raspberries annually makes the plants loosen up a bit and gives them the chance to spread their branches happily.

Carelessness in pruning may result in the overgrowth of canes, competition between the canes for sunlight and nutrients, and dying of lower portions of leaves and buds.

Image represents the overcrowding of raspberry bush
Raspberry bush becomes overcrowded if pruning is halted.

Furthermore, each variety of raspberries has different pruning times. So, you need to prune the summer-bearers in early spring, while the fall-bearers require pruning in late winter.

Summer-bearer varieties are also called “Red Raspberries” while the fall-bearers are know as “Everbearing.”

Additionally, both varieties show different signs of pruning.

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

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

Similarly, fall-bearers require pruning when leaves from the primocanes fall, and the stem begins to develop thick brown bark.

How Do You Prune Raspberry Bushes?

Since two varieties of raspberries are available, the pruning technique for both is almost the same.

However, you have to consider the right time to prune for each variety and grab a set of tools, including gardening gloves, disinfectants.

Image represents pruning raspberry bushes
Remove the top few inches of spent canes for proper pruning.

Steps To Prune Raspberries

  • Select the canes that look old and brown (spent floricanes).
  • Take each of the floricanes and snip-off two to three inches from the top.
  • Better to cut back to the ground level if there is too much overcrowding.
  • For fall-bearers, select the canes from which you have recently picked the fruits.
  • Take each of the canes by hand and cut the entire bush to the ground.
  • Collect all the debris from the soil in a plastic bucket and convert it into compost.

Tips To Prune Raspberries

  • Harvest the fruits before pruning.
  • Prune the buds if you want to have fewer but bigger fruits.
  • Avoid the healthy-green primocanes while pruning red raspberries and only target the spent floricanes.
  • Make the spacious area around the plant by cutting the current year canes while leaving six of the healthy canes on the bush.
  • Remove the damaged or weak, or diseased canes.
  • Perform trimming in spring to remove canes that were damaged by frost during winter.
  • If you are growing red raspberries against a support structure, 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.

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 and might become prone to disease attacks.

Moreover, it is ideal for maintaining the proper conditions for fostering new growth. 

Here are a few caring requirements that you can look out for immediately.

  • Apply the fungicides around the cut area to reduce the chance of cane canker disease infection.
  • Remove any competitive weeds that are present around the plant.
Image represents canker disease affecting the stem
Canker disease affects the stem of the raspberry plant.
  • Give the plant about two liters of water per week after pruning until the next growing season.
  • Use a fertilizer that possesses high amounts of nitrogen to promote new growth immediately after pruning in spring or winter. Don’t fertilize the plant during summer or fall.
  • Provide the plant with full direct sunlight for six to eight hours daily.
  • Maintain the surrounding temperature at least 12°C at night and around 18°C during the daytime to induce new growth.
  • Raspberries prefer to grow in sandy-loamy or deep sandy soil having pH levels between 5 and 6.7.
  • Sustain the relative humidity of 80 to 90% to promote new branches.
  • If you are growing raspberries in pots, repotting shall be done promptly when the plant is in a dormant state and isn’t producing new growth after pruning.


Although raspberries grow in different varieties, they have almost the same pruning techniques.

However, you need to set a pruning session at the right time; otherwise, your raspberry plant will feel uncomfortable to keep it upright.

Additionally, try to give your raspberries all the post-pruning care to make them produce delicious berries.

If you own other houseplants, you may also need to learn how to prune Ponytail Palm, Polka Dot Plant, and African Violet.

Happy Gardening!

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