Tricia pruning a blackberry vine. Learn some pruning tricks here for bountiful berries.
In our video on planting and growing raspberries and blackberries, Tricia shows how she grows her blackberries and black raspberries in the “hill method”, with the canes growing in clumps next to a fence or post for support. Boysenberrries are related to blackberries and should be grown the same way. If you live in an area where the soil dries quickly, berries can be planted on flat soil (no hilling).
Red and golden raspberries don’t just look different from black raspberries—they need more support and their canes should be tied to structures.
There are many support options for you.
Tricia strings twine from post to post as support for red raspberries. When it’s time to cut down and discard the canes, the twine can go along with them.
If you want a permanent support for your red and golden raspberries, use galvanized wire at three different levels between T-bars and weave the canes through the wire.
You can also build a Y-shaped trellis and attach the growing canes to galvanized wire or twine on the arms of the Y. The canes will then form a V-shape, allowing plenty of sun and air to reach the berries. The University of Maine has a video that shows a Y-trellis in use and information on dormant pruning.
Typical raspberries have perennial roots and biennial canes. The roots send up canes that do not produce anything but leaves in the first year (primocanes). In the second year they bloom and fruit (floricanes), then die, and are cut to the ground after the summer harvest.
With the everbearer or fall bearer raspberries, the first year canes produce fruit at the tips in late summer or fall, and from side (or lateral) branches in their second summer.
For the maximum crop, mow or cut down all the everbearer canes after the fall harvest.
For a typical home berry patch, cut those canes off near the ground with loppers.
With a large garden or a farm, you can make fast work of the canes with a powerful BCS Garden Tiller and a Sickle Bar Mower attachment. Fast work? Just watch the video of this tiller on the job.
TIP: Make it easy to mow the canes. Don’t drive your T-bars into the ground, and then mow around them. Instead, sink PVC pipes in the ground, and drop the T-bars inside the pipes. When it’s time to mow, pull the T-bars out of the way, mow, and then replace the T-bars.
HALF AS MUCH: Another alternative is to mow half the bed each year. That way you will have berries in summer at the tips of new canes AND berries on the older, lower branches. And you only have to mow half as much.
For more bramble information try the short and sweet book on Berries: Raspberries & Blackberries from Storey. In the Country Wisdom Bulletin series, it is 32 pages and has a lot of good information.
UC Davis IPM has a thorough guide to growing raspberries and blackberries.
Blackberries are pruned differently than raspberries. During the dormant season, prune out the canes that fruited the previous year down to the ground. Also thin out any thin weak canes. You want no more than about 6 to 8 really strong canes. Once you have thinned, head back the remaining canes to about 4-5 feet from the ground. Then trim the remaining lateral branches to about 12 to 18”.
Make raspberries and blackberries an inexpensive part of your summer diet when you grow your own!
Apr 23rd, 2012 at 12:52 pm
Hi Charlotte: I would love to plant berries in my garden, but am more than a little frightened by the garden sites online and the scary stories from hearsay about the terrible invasive habits of berries. What are the best techniques to avoid the invasive habits, and are there any berry varieties that aren’t invasive? Thanks for all of your excellent gardening advice and for this wonderful online resource, too!
Charlotte, Peaceful Valley Says:
Mar 5th, 2013 at 8:43 am
GBaygardener, Glad to hear you are enjoying our online gardening resources. As for invasive cane berries—trellis and prune your cane berries, as shown in the video and this article, and you should be fine.
Mar 10th, 2013 at 6:15 am
At the very end of the video I see a light fine mulch used to cover the raspberry rows and prevent weeds. What is that mulch and do you carry it?
Charlotte from Peaceful Valley Says:
Mar 11th, 2013 at 4:27 pm
Don, That is rice straw that Tricia is spreading. We don’t sell it but you can find it at feed stores and some garden centers.
Margaret Ramos Says:
Jan 17th, 2015 at 12:16 pm
Would like to know if I can order berry plants
Jan 17th, 2015 at 3:26 pm
Oh yes Peaceful Valley has a wide selection of blackberries and raspberries.
Qberry Farm Says:
Jan 17th, 2015 at 5:37 pm
Berries can spread by seeds in bird droppings, but garden spreading is by roots in raspberries and vine tips in blackberries. Pruning and training the black berries as demonstrated keeps them from spreading by vine tips reaching the ground.
Jan 18th, 2015 at 10:52 am
Hey there!! I have had a small raspberry patch for about 7years and for the past 3 years have been bombarded with fruit flies. The maggots have made a mess of the berries and I don’t know what to do. A local gardening store recommended Seven, but I’m not sure I want that on my berries. It doesn’t seem safe to take internally. Do u have any suggestions? I’ve tried traps, cleaning over ripe berries that have fallen, and the bugs just keep coming. Makes me so sad because it seems like such a waste. Please help!!
Suzanne at Peaceful Valley Says:
Feb 6th, 2015 at 10:14 am
Yes keeping the fallen berries cleaned up will help. You can try very inexpensive sticky yellow traps that work well at catching fruit flies. I use them inside my kitchen compost bin and have been able to keep them in check. You could just hang the traps from the plants and the adults will stick to it. Hope this helps/