Pruning blackberry bushes will not only help keep blackberries healthy, but can also help promote a larger crop. Blackberry pruning is easy to do once you know the steps. Let's take a look at how to trim blackberry bushes and when to prune blackberry bushes.
When to Prune Blackberry Bushes
One of the most common questions about blackberries is, “When do you cut back blackberry bushes?” There are actually two different types of blackberry pruning you should be doing and each must be done at different times of the year. In the early spring, you will be tip pruning blackberry bushes. In late summer, you will be doing clean up blackberry pruning. Keep reading to learn how to trim blackberry bushes both of these ways.
Tip Pruning Blackberry Bushes
In the spring, you should be doing tip pruning on your blackberries. Tip pruning is exactly what it sounds like; it is cutting off the tips of the blackberry canes. This will force the blackberry canes to branch out, which will create more wood for blackberry fruit to grow on and, therefore, more fruit. To do tip blackberry pruning, use a sharp, clean pair of pruning shears and cut back the blackberry canes to about 24 inches (60 cm.). If the canes are shorter than 24 inches (60 cm.), simply prune off the top inch (2.5 cm.) or so of the cane. While you are tip pruning, you can also prune off any diseased or dead canes.
Clean Up Blackberry Pruning
In the summer, after the blackberries are done fruiting, you will need to do clean up blackberry pruning. Blackberries only produce fruit on canes that are two years old, so once a cane has produced berries, it will never produce berries again. Cutting these spent canes off the blackberry bush will encourage the plant to produce more first year canes, which in turn will mean more fruit producing canes next year. When pruning blackberry bushes for clean up, use a sharp, clean pair of pruning shears and cut off at ground level any canes that produced fruit this year (two year old canes). Now that you know how to trim blackberry bushes and when to prune blackberry bushes, you can help your blackberry plants grow better and produce more fruit.
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Heather Rhoades founded Gardening Know How in 2007. She holds degrees from Cleveland State University and Northern Kentucky University. She is an avid gardener with a passion for community, and is a recipient of the Master Gardeners of Ohio Lifetime Achievement Award.
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