Learning how to prune my everbearing raspberries

Raspberry Bushes
By: Luke JonasCC by 2.0

A few summers ago, I planted some everbearing raspberries in my backyard. It took a year or two, but the canes are now consistently putting out a bumper crop every summer and fall. Woohoo! But the backyard is pretty small and bramble patches aren't good for optimizing crop size anyway, so this winter I decided it was time for a first pruning.

The tricky thing about everbearing raspberries is that, unlike summer-bearing raspberries that produce one big crop in late summer, these bushes give two smaller crops per year. You can pretty much prune summer-bearing raspberries all the way to the ground in the winter, but if you want both crops from the everbearing, you have to know which canes to cut to the ground and which to prune back carefully and by how much.

Happy raspberry patch, all thinned and pruned.

Armed with the internet, I set to work on my tiny patch. Here's what I found out:

In late winter/early-ass spring, look for the canes with gray, peeling bark. These guys won't ever fruit again. Cut them all the way to the ground so they don't take up space. You'll easily be able to see the difference between these dead canes and the smooth, reddish bark of the ones that will fruit again in the summer.

Dead cane versus live cane.

Once you've got rid of all the obviously spent canes, it's time to eyeball the smooth canes that remain. Cut any to the ground that look small and weak or are simply too close to a much healthier cane. Thinning the canes this way ensures that the remaining canes get all the plant's love. Hello, enormous raspberries.

But you're still not done! After you've thinned the weak ones from the herd (horticulture is brutal), it's time to prune off the very tops of the remaining canes. You can usually tell where the cane has fruited the year before. You might even be able to tell that the cane looks a bit shriveled toward the top but then looks young and healthy further down. Lop the fruited, shriveled part off — in my case, this was just a few inches each.

Pruned down to new growth — see the green wood there?

Do you Homies have any other raspberry knowledge? Maintenance tips, trellis plans, family-secret recipes? I want to know 'em all.

  1. What area do you live in?
    Would I be able to grow raspberries in NY state?
    Can they be grown in pots? We rent and I'm not sure when we might move in the next few years.
    Or would they be easily transferable when we do move?

    I presume you need to net these from deer?
    Or are the canes spiky like brambles/blackberries?

    2 agree
    • I've grown them in big pots. In fact, they seeded themselves there from our patch. I let them grow to see what would happen. I'm on Long Island, but you should be able to grow them if you're north of here.

      1 agrees
    • Raspberries grow wild here in southern Quebec (i.e. around Montreal), and I know several people who cultivate them, so my guess is that they'd grow well in NY state as well.

    • If I recall correctly, I believe she lives in Michigan (Chris, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think I remember you mentioning that in a previous post…), so if she can grow them there, I would think that you can grow them in New York. What size pot you might require, I wouldn't know.

      Thank you so much for sharing this pruning info! I hope to eventually grow berries, but knowing how to best maintain them is something about which I have no clue.

      • Hi, y'all! I'm actually in Omaha, Neb. Pretty much the middle of the country. Raspberries have a super wide range, but do you research on your area. I wouldn't *think* that raspberries or any bramble would do well in pots. The root systems like to spread!

    • ask the staff at a reputable garden center (not a big box store that also sells tools, but the local place that sells only garden plants) they have tons of knowledge about the best plants for containers and what will do well in your local area.

  2. how many raspberries do you get? I've been trying to convince my husband that raspberries would be a good idea to plant in our backyard but he's convinced that they don't produce enough to be worth the effort.

    • Well, you're both right! Mine are three years old, and last year we had our first really good crop. Maybe two pints every few days on a four-foot-wide patch. It does take patience. But remember, raspberry plants you'd buy commercially are bred for lots of fruit. These ain't your wild brambles growing on old forest growth. Once they're established, your main challenge will be reining in the growth, so I'd be more worried about available space.

  3. I actually have one of these in a pot on my patio. I didn't know what I was really doing this past fall when I pruned it. I think I cut it down way too much, since most of what I read just said to prune it and that I could even cut it to the ground. Needless to say, it doesn't look like I'll be getting any early in the year raspberries, and think I'll be lucky if it grows back again. If it is able to come back again this year, then I'm all over this. Thanks for the post!

    As a side note, I just bought some raspberry fertilizer (with hopes it will help it overcome the avid pruning), and am open to advice or tricks to using it on my plant – since I don't want to kill it with kindness.

    • You won't be getting any early raspberries this year, but fingers crossed you get some new shoots for fall! Potted plants do need some extra love, so fertilizer isn't out of the question — just Google the shit out of the type you bought. See if any previous users have tips! If you don't find anything, I'd suggest just top dressing your pot with it. Too much fertilizer at the roots can burn them.

  4. We have a blackberry patch that started with one single blackberry cane and has blossomed over the past few years. It's getting to the out of control stage so I'm thinking that you might be on to something here with the pruning! I'll let the blackberries ripen first of course!

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