Blackberries: Autumn pruning

This year I’ve had a superb haul off of the blackberry bushes located toward the bottom of the plot. These blackberries grow wild at the plot and if they’re kept under control you can train the wild sprouts into some really decent plants and make use of the fruits that come with them.

Soon after they’ve flowered and you’ve picked the fruit, it’s a really idea to give the plants a prune to encourage new growth and to keep the mass of foliage under control – blackberries, hybrid berries and brambles are notorious for growing out of control at a rapid pace.

Generally throughout the year, I tend to prune the blackberry bushes here and there, and if I’m honest there’s no real hard and fast rules when it comes to pruning. The only rule I follow with these triffidesque plants is that if you feel that they’re in the way, don’t be afraid to give them the chop.

The other rule I have is to always wear decent, thick gloves. The thorns are notoriously vicious and can result in bloodshed if you’re not careful.

 

When pruning, I try my best to try and chop off all of the old berries and the dead flowers, I also try and cut back as far as I can to main leading stem, to encourage side shoots and shoots that look like they’re going to flower.

I have about five rows of blackberry plants, that are held together with wire – out of those five rows, I selected two rows to cut right back to the bottom of the plant. I wasn’t quite happy with the direction of the shoots, so I plan to start again with these particular plants.

Because blackberry plants are quite resilient, I’m not afraid to prune quite harshly – I do leave around a foot of stem from the main root of the plant however, so that I can see where the plant is and train it accordingly across the wire.

 

I usually find that doing jobs like this at the allotment a really gratifying task – it’s not a particularly difficult thing to do and you find that you have actually achieved something when you sit down and admire your efforts with a cup of tea.

I also find that you feel like you’ve gained some space at the time. To show you what I mean, I’ve included some before and after shots below.

 

If you’ve pruned some blackberries I’d love to hear any tips that you may have?

Pruning wild blackberries

I have a bit of a love hate relationship with blackberries a. because they’re incredibly numerous and seem to pop up everywhere, but b. because they seem to produce such wonderful fruits, which are great to use in a blackberry smoothieΒ or in an apple and blackberry crumble.

Wild blackberries grow at the back of the plot and so I’ve tried to train them along some wire.Β  Pruning and training blackberries is a great thing to learn and is really easy to do, all you need to have is an idea of which direction you want it to grow in, how high you want it to grow and how far you want it to grow.

Blackberries are genuinely a low maintenance plant and can with stand quite a harsh prune if you so desire. Β I hadn’t pruned the blackberries since the summer, so there was quite a bit of dead wood to get rid of. Β At this time of year, new shoots are poking through, so the idea of a prune is to focus the plants’ energy into those new shoots.

When the new shoots are long enough, I’ll look to train these across the length the wire to produce a nice arc of fruit in the summer – at the end of the summer, once the plant stops producing fruit, I’ll look to do another prune.

Pruning blackberries and fruit plants is not that technical – remember to cut at angle to allow rain water to run off the exposed branch, be aware of where you’re cutting with regards to new shoots and try not to leave a plant that’s less than around 3 to 4 inches high

Pruning wild blackberries after

Pruning can be quite a daunting task, but practice on wild blackberries because they’re so resilient.