19. December 2019

How to prune blackberries

My blackberry bushes always grow extremely large. That's why I need to keep up and prune them as they grow. This is how I prune blackberries at home.

En trist bild på en planta med några grenar.

This might not be the most inspiring picture of my berry bushes, but this is how I prune blackberries.

 

I know that many of you are curious about the blackberries I grow in my garden. Growing blackberries in the polytunnel has been a great experience for me so far and I hope that many of you will try it too! This post is going to be all about how to take care of, and prune blackberries.

 

 

 

It seems like most people let their blackberries grow as they please. I like that attitude! My parents are my biggest blackberry inspiration. They had (and still have) an insanely large blackberry bush growing in their yard. This bush started as a wild shoot that they took home one day. We really cherished our huge blackberry bush that sometimes started growing into my room through the vent next to the windows. We fertilized the bush with leftovers from my mother's fish shop and the contents of the diapers in the house. And most importantly, my parents made sure to prune the blackberry bush meticulously.

It's time for me to prune blackberries too! This is how I do it:

 

En risig planta med massor av grenar och ihoptorkade blad.

This is what my blackberry bush looked like before I started pruning it. It looks miserable!

 

How to prune blackberries

  1. I have three main stems left on this plant. One of them produced this year's berries. I cut the entire stem and remove all of the little side shoots.
  2. What about the other two stems then? Well, I'm pretty sure that the plant would have liked to keep even more of them. But I decided to cut all of the new growth and leave only the two sturdiest stems. I'm going to keep both of them until next season, depending on how well they do this winter of course.
  3. I decided to cut the tops of the main stems.  I want the upper side shoots to be around the same height as me.
  4. I'm removing all of the side shoots that I don't want to train next year. I always make sure to keep three shoots on each side of the main stem, on each plant.
  5. New shoots will start growing in spring, with plenty of little buds that will turn into lovely sweet berries in no time.

The top picture shows the bush after pruning. I decided to keep six side shoots on each main stem.

 

Read more: Propagating blueberries with tip layering

 

One or two stems?

I usually only keep one main stem, since I think this makes the plant a lot easier to work with. So, why would I keep two? Well, I have experienced horribly cold winters in the past and I know that the plant can get damaged. Keeping two stems means that I can afford losing one of them if it were to come to that.

 

Recipe: Blackberry marmalade with lemon and vanilla

 

Next year, I might just go aall-in on two stems. However, I'm just not sure it's going to work. Blackberries can take up a lot of space and even though this Black Satin variety is thornless, the sheer size can still be a real problem. A large plant needs more pruning of course, and plenty of training too. I haven't decided quite what to do yet!

So, go ahead and try to prune blackberries in your own garden! Good luck.
/Sara Bäckmo

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