Raspberry & Blackberry Garden Guide

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Bramble Culture At A Glance (Bare Root)

  • Cultivate planting bed 12-20 in. deep, adding ample amounts of organic material. (Do Not dig one single hole to plant brambles. Create a bed 2 ft. wide x 10-20 ft. long.)
  • Pre-soak roots, 8 to 24 hrs. minimum prior to planting.
  • Don't plant berries too deep. The top of the root ball should only be 1 in. below soil grade.
  • Once planted, cut handles (old canes) back, leaving only 2-3 in. stub.
  • Once planted, water consistently. Do not rely on rain events for adequate water.

Raspberries & Blackberries Preparation Instructions

From the bare roots, pre-soak the roots.

  • Soak raspberry roots for 8 to 24 hrs. in a bucket of clean water.
  • After soaking, brambles should be planted immediately keeping in mind to not expose the roots to direct sunlight for any length of time.

NOTE: Potted berry plants can be planted after the last frost, with the top of soil in pots at the same level as the natural soil grade.

Raspberries & Blackberries Planting Instructions

  • Preparing the soil.
    • Cane fruits prefer loose, well-drained organically rich soil.
    • Amend natural soil with a rich blend of leaf compost & aged manure.
    • You may also amend the soil with balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer at a rate of 3-4 lbs. per 100 sq. ft.
    • Once natural soil is properly amended dig a shallow furrow or hole and place plants into the soil blend at a shallow depth.

NOTE: DO NOT plant raspberry or blackberry roots too deep. Roots should only be covered by 1 to 2 in. of soil after planting. Inspect plants right out of the box to determine where the soil level was on the plant in the nursery.

    • For Raspberries (Red & Yellow): Space plants 2 ft. apart in rows, in beds that are 2 to 3 ft. wide, with 6 to 8 ft. between the beds.
    • For Black Raspberries: Space plants 4 ft. apart in beds that are 3 to 4 ft. wide with 8 to 10 ft. between beds.
    • For Blackberries: Space plants 5 to 6 ft. apart in beds that are 5 to 6 ft. wide with 8 to 10 ft. between beds.

NOTE:Thornless blackberry canes tend to trail on or near the ground for the first two seasons and then become more vertical to train onto trellis or supports.

NOTE: Brambles will have greater success if a bed is created where their roots are able to spread, and they are not just dug into a small hole.

NOTE: Bramble roots grow close to the soil surface. They will not grow or perform well in areas of competing weeds, wild grasses, or turfgrass. Build a bed for them to plant into.

Tip Pruning

  • Prune top canes (handles) back to about 3 inches above the soil surface.

NOTE: Cutting the handles back is extremely important, DO NOT skip this step.


  • Water new plants thoroughly, ensuring all air pockets are filled.
  • Keep new plants watered with at least 1 in. of water per week.

NOTE: Do not rely on rain events to provide enough moisture to establish new plantings.

  • Apply 4 to 6 in. of mulch or compost over the entire bed or 2 ft. around the root zone of new plants to help retain soil moisture and help suppress weed growth.

Raspberries & Blackberries - Maintenance After Establishment


Brambles should be fed once annually, in early spring.

NOTE: For Fall/Everbearing types apply ½ cup per plant to help promote earlier fruiting.

  • Also, apply 1 cu. ft. of aged manure or leaf compost to the base of each plant in spring.

Pruning - Summer Bearing Red Raspberries

NOTE: Raspberries are perennial plants that bear fruit in a biennial way.

NOTE: Red raspberries are suckering, which means new plants grow out, at ground level from the base of the mother plant. (Black raspberries do not sucker)

  • Allow plants to grow unimpeded for 2-3 years.
  • Once established, remove all canes, to the ground that has flowered & fruited immediately after harvest.
  • Once those canes have been removed, then thin out weak canes, leaving about 3 to 5 largest canes per 1 ft. of row space.

NOTE: Do not cut cane tips until the following spring when winter die-back can be accurately gauged. Also, do not remove lateral branches as these can be fruit-bearing canes.

Pruning - Fall or Everbearing Raspberries

Fall-bearing raspberries produce fruit on 1-year-old canes in late summer to early fall.
  • Most efficient way to prune these types of raspberries is to cut all canes back to ground level in early spring before new growth emerges.

NOTE: This pruning method eliminates a summer crop, but it will produce an earlier and larger fall crop.

NOTE: Fall-bearing raspberries can be pruned like summer-bearing, but not the other way around.

  • As with summer-bearing canes, remove fruited canes to the ground immediately after harvest.
  • In early spring allow the largest 3 to 5 canes to emerge, removing all weaker or slow-growing canes by Aug. 1st.

NOTE: If more continual berry production is desired, prune canes down to 2.5 ft. in late winter to early spring, while plants are still dormant. After summer fruits are harvested, cut those canes to the ground. The remaining canes will typically bear in the fall, then those canes may be removed after fruiting, and so forth.

Pruning - Black or Purple Raspberries

Black and purple raspberries form all new shoots at the crown of the plant, they Do Not sucker.

  • When black raspberries grow to 2 ft. high, tip prune the top 4 to 6 inches off the terminal growth to encourage lateral branching. Allow all laterals to grow all season.
  • Do this same tip pruning to purple raspberries when they reach 2.5 to 3 ft. tall and allow all lateral branches to grow all season.
  • In early spring, while plants are dormant select 4 to 5 of the strongest canes and cut out all others at ground level.
  • Then, for black raspberries, prune each lateral branch to 10 to 12 in. long (15 to 24 in. for purple raspberries).

NOTE: Tie all canes of black or purple raspberries to a trellis system or support stakes.

Pruning - Blackberries

NOTE: Proper pruning method will depend on the variety.

  • With trailing varieties (thornless), pruning is done in early spring by cutting each main cane back to 3 to 4 ft. in length. Then prune lateral branches to 12 in. leaving 5 to 6 buds on each lateral branch.
  • For erect or semi-erect (thorny) types, tip prune summer canes 36 to 48 in. tall to encourage lateral branching. Prune laterals to 16 to 18 inches. These laterals form flowers and bear fruit next summer.
  • For Everbearing blackberries, pruning methods are the same as Fall-bearing raspberries (see instructions above).

NOTE: When pruning all berries and brambles it is critical to remove, burn or bury all canes and debris to limit the potential spread of disease and insect pests.