Gardening Help FAQs

Here are answers to some of the most common questions we receive about garden plants. You will find concise information on general gardening techniques as well as plant selection and care. For detailed information on specific plant pests and problems refer to our Common Garden Pests and Problems page.

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Horticulture Questions and Answers

How do I prune and train my raspberries?

Pruning and training raspberries not only produce healthier plants, it also increases production and makes picking easier.

Summer bearing raspberries only produce one crop on two year old canes. Cut these canes to ground level immediately after the last harvest and thin the new shoots coming up from the ground. Leave 3 to 4 of the sturdiest canes per foot of new or 6 to 8 canes per hill. Don't cut back the cane tips. The next time you'll prune them is in the spring after danger of frost has passed and before growth begins. Remove any old canes you missed last summer and reduce the length of the canes by one fourth. Do not over prune. Severe pruning reduces the harvests.

Fall bearing raspberries produce a fall crop on one year old canes and a summer crop on two year old canes. The easiest way to prune is to cut the plants back to ground level in late fall after harvest or early spring. This eliminates the summer crop but you'll get an even earlier and larger fall harvest. Pruning this way reduces disease and insect problems, winter injury, and rodent problems. Always use sharp tools or a heavy duty mower with sharp blades to reduce crown damage to the plant. If you want a summer and fall crop use the pruning recommendations for summer bearing raspberries.

Black raspberries are pruned differently in the summer. Pinch off the growing tip of the new canes when they are 24 inches tall. Then immediately after harvest, cut to ground level and remove any canes that bore fruit. The next spring before growth begins cut back all side branches to 12 inches, then next spring thin plants to 4 or 5 of the sturdiest canes per plant. Prune purple raspberries the same way. In the summer pinch out growing tips when the plants are 30 inches tall. Later after harvest cut canes that bore fruit to ground level and remove. Next spring before growth starts thin plants to 4 or 5 of the sturdiest canes. Cut side branches back to 18 inches.

Raspberries can be planted in a narrow hedge or hill system. If you use the hill system, set a permanent stake in the center of each hill then loosely tie canes to the post with twine. For the narrow hedge row system, keep plants within an 18 inch wide row. Prune out any suckers which appear outside this row. A permanent trellis, to hold up the canes, can also be used for easier picking and to reduce pest problems. To install, set stakes on one side of the row at 15 to 20 foot intervals and securely fasten a wire between the stakes. The canes can then be tied to the wire. An alternative method is to put posts and wire on each side of the hedge row. For the latter method, tying is not required.