The Best Guide On How To Prune Raspberries For A Bumper Harvest!

The colorful and luscious raspberries come to our plates only after having gone through a lot of treatment. If you have signed up to grow raspberries at home, one of the most important things to know is how to prune raspberries and you will know why it is so crucial once you read below. We are going to present some great tips to you about how to prune raspberry bushes perfectly.


how to prune raspberries

Pruning proves helpful to a lot of plants in many terms and becomes even more important for the denser plants. The latter case applies well to the raspberry plants as their denser bushes and unique growth style needs to be controlled well through pruning. Here are the benefits of pruning raspberry bushes:

  • Pruning helps better energy distribution in the plant and that leads to better growth and strength.
  • Fruit production improves with regular pruning as the plant becomes able to direct all its energy to the growing fruit. The yield and size of the fruit are both bigger.
  • The particular growth pattern of the raspberry plants requires mandatory removal of the dead parts to help the growth of new parts in their place so that the plant keeps surviving.

Different varieties of raspberry plants

The raspberry plants belong to the subgenus called Rubus but they are divided into different categories as per their variety, requirements, and morphology. To begin with, let us give you the major categorical division of raspberries as per their harvest season:

  • Summer-bearing variety: These varieties have fruits emerging in the summer season of the second growth cycle of the plant and on the canes of the previous season.
  • Fall-bearing variety: These varieties have fruits being borne by the canes in the first growth cycle of the plant.
  • Everbearing variety: These varieties bear fruits in both the growth cycles of the plant.

There are different color varieties too that differ by the location of the fruit growth and the pruning techniques majorly depend on these varieties:

  • The red raspberry plants have the fruit suckers growing below the growth point of previous season suckers.
  • The black or blue raspberry plants have the fruit suckers growing in new places.

The determination of the raspberry plant you are going to prune is very important as that impacts the technique of how to prune raspberry bushes.

Understand the plant anatomy for efficient pruning

Pruning is all about removing the spent parts of the plant to save energy for the newer growing and necessary plant parts. Thus, it also becomes very important to know about those parts that need to be removed, and that differs from plant to plant. In the case of raspberry bushes, the growth cycle of the plant majorly impacts the pruning to be done and the following aspects will help you understand that.

The raspberries have biennial canes which are the main focus of the pruning process. These canes carry layers of the fruiting buds and turn into different forms during the different harvest seasons that depend upon the variety of the plant.

The canes are known as the primocanes in the summer bearing varieties when the fruit buds flower in the following year and give crop in the summer season. These same canes come to be known as the floricanes in the winter bearing varieties when the upper fruit buds produce the crop during the fall season. After the harvest, the primocanes turn brown with leaves dropped while the floricanes die out completely with the onset of winter.

The point to be noted from this description is that it is the dead and withered canes that need to be pruned after the crop harvest.

The right time to prune the raspberry bushes

There is no one time to prune the raspberry bushes and it depends on the variety of the raspberry that you are growing. As per the varieties that we discussed above, following the time conditions that you need to consider while pruning your raspberry plant:

  • If you have a summer bearing raspberry variety, the fruit-bearing canes can be pruned once the crop is harvested in summers and then later in spring again. You must start with the pruning once the frost is over and the time is set for the new growth to emerge.
  • If you have a fall-bearing raspberry variety, the fruit-bearing cane can be pruned once the crop is harvested during the late fall. Start with the pruning when the plants go dormant.

Let us now move to see how to prune raspberries techniques as per the different color varieties of raspberries.

The right way of pruning the red raspberry bushes

Here are the pruning techniques for the two different types of varieties of red raspberries.

Pruning the summer varieties

Once the fruits of this variety have been harvested, you can go about pruning the canes as per the right timing discusses above. You have to focus only on the canes that have fruited already in the previous season of fall that is the floricanes and leave out the primocanes that will fruit in the coming season. Now follow the steps below to prune the plants:

  • Identify the target floricanes which are the canes that look browned, harder, and brittle.
  • Cut them with garden scissors till the ground level, removing the stub completely.
  • Remove the damaged primocanes too in the same way as above.

Consider these tips for better pruning the summer varieties:

  • Be liberal with pruning in the highly congested places of the bush.
  • Reduce primocanes carefully and only after they have passed three years of growth.
  • Trim some of the longer growing canes in later winters for easier harvesting.
  • Don’t prune the long canes that you are freshly planting.

Pruning the fall varieties

how to prune raspberries

After harvesting the fruits of this variety in the fall, you can start with pruning the primocanes in the late winters when they start to wither completely after having transferred enough carbohydrates in the plant to survive the dormancy period. There are two ways you can prune these primocane varieties:

  • Cut the canes till the ground level for a big crop next time.
  • Cut the strongest canes to one meter above the ground and the rest of them till the ground level. This will give a double harvest.

Consider these tips to learn how to prune raspberry bushes in the right way:

  • Double cropping pruning is only applicable to certain types of fall raspberry varieties like Joan J, Himbo Top, etc. It is also better for small gardens.
  • You can thin the very dense patches during summers.
  • Be careful about the weeds, damaged canes, and rotten canes that must be removed immediately upon seeing.

The right way of pruning the black raspberries bushes

Black raspberries have different anatomy than the red ones. These varieties are biennials too but have longer growing canes that can arch back to the ground level and lead to overcrowding of plants propagated. Their primocanes have side shoots that bear buds and fruit in the next year.

Thus, pruning raspberry bushes of the black variety aims at preventing arching canes from rooting and promoting higher bud growth. The vertical growth of the canes needs to be controlled to encourage lateral growth that plays a more important role in the development of fruit buds.

Keeping the above aspects in mind, here are the steps you need to follow while pruning black raspberries:

  • Once the shoots are about 3 feet or 30 inches tall, you must prune the tips of the canes. Remove about three inches from the tip.
  • The lateral branches shall be pruned once they cross the measure of 10 inches.
  • The later winter pruning of the black raspberry canes can be done just like you would do with the red raspberries.

Tips on pruning the raspberry plants effectively

Other than the timing, technique, and execution, certain things still need to be considered while pruning raspberries. Here are some of the tips that you must consider:

  • Cut all the new canes growing outside the set row width that is usually 2 feet. This prevents overcrowding.
  • Pruning the full plant needs to wait till the later winter time.
  • Make sure to prune the plants at the right angle as that helps the cut plant part to heal properly and easily.
  • Supporting stronger and healthy growing canes is very important. Tie them properly with the desired support structure.


This was all about how to prune raspberries because the process is a little complicated due to the plethora of aspects that need to be kept in mind. Pruning raspberry bushes is an integral part of the growth of these plants as can be seen from the above discussions and following out tips carefully will help you get a great harvest.

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Tom Rico

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