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Rampant Raspberry Help Please...

Hi all...

I have two really overgrown raspberry bushes that have never been pruned properly and have been grown as a hedge...they are now out of control and all the new shoots are on the outside leaving old bare leafless wood internally...

I hope the photos can be of some assistance ...I'm sorry they aren't clearer...

What I have resembles a very dense hedge...maybe 8 ft high and 8 ft across...15 ft long

I want to prune it hard and am wondering if I were to cut back into the really old branches would I get new shoots next year or be left with a hedge that would take years to recover.?.

Not sure what type of raspberry it is's never produced any berries because of numerous light trimmings throughout the year...

Any help would be very welcome...Thank you...

Thumbnail by ZenOne Thumbnail by ZenOne
Opp, AL(Zone 8b)

Are you sure about the ID of your shrubs? I'm not a huge "berry person" so it may be meaningless that I don't recognize that but shouldn't there be thorns on raspberry? Do you have any pics of the foliage?

It might help you to get the best and most appropriate info if folks knew where you are, zone and/or state since the timing of plant actions is dependent on the local weather.

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

I agree with purpleinopp, it doesn't look especially like a raspberry to me either. I think there may be a thornless raspberry (or is it blackberry?) but regardless of that, the growth habit just doesn't look like raspberry to me.

Durhamville, NY(Zone 5b)

As far as I know the canes on cane fruit (raspberries and black berries) don't branch. That looks like a privet hedge or something similar to me.
This video is the only thing I could find quickly that shows the inside of a hedge.

Thank you for your replies....

I now have to confess that my identification info was incorrect.....the plants in question are in fact Gooseberries .... not Raspberries apologies..

I live in a rather exposed damp area of the UK surrounded by hills and with an often cold any plants in the garden have a hard time....growth can be very slow.

The plants actually over hang a low stone wall and I really want to prune them back to this ...however that will mean cutting back 2-3 ft of the outside growth going in very old thick stems.....the plants are around 18 years old and have had only a small amount of pruning done each year....hence their rather extreme width and height now.

It's more important these plants remain a hedge than as a source of berries.....their screening properties are needed more than their ability to produce tasty berries.


Contra Costa County, CA(Zone 9b)

Ask at your local garden experts about the optimum time to prune, but in general here is how to figure it out:
New growth is most tender to the drying and chilling of the cold winds you describe. If there is a time of year when these winds are less cold, then prune right before that time. Then the new growth will be growing in the mildest period. Probably: Prune in the early spring. Then the natural tendency of most plants to grow in spring and summer will provide the fastest come-back.

As for how much to prune, I would be conservative with most of it, but try one area that is the least important screening and cut harder. If the recovery is good in that 'test area' then prune the rest of the plants that much, but maybe not all in one year. It might take several years to get the bulk of the growth back where you want it.

You describe the plants as growing new sprouts from the ground, out, and away from the center. If you can get in and remove a lot of that old center growth then the plant might start growing back in that direction.

Thanks Diane....

All good advice ....and you're idea of a 'test' section before cutting into wood that has never seen a pair of secateurs makes a lot of sense.....I'll try that for sure...

Reaching the desired height and width gradually over a period of time would certainly seem the safest route to take.

Thanks again..


Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

Gooseberry's fortunately can tolerate HARD pruning, I dont know how cold your zone is for winter so I would leave the hard pruning till very early spring, maybe soon as you see new tiny little buds appear on the branches.

The kind of prune and shape you are looking for is a GOBLET open shape, so begin removing ALL the broken damaged branches, cut these right back to about a half inch from the stem they are growing from, (use Gloves as you will have to get right into the middle of each bush) after that prune, stand back, (don't rush and just cut everything) look to find branches that are crossing each other and remove the weakest, (cross branches rub against each other and cause disease)
Have another look at what needs cut next, I would start cutting the hight, remove all the tall stems by half to start with, NEXT, go into the middle again and remove half the stems that are growing INWARDS, cut just above an outward facing BUD as this will make the new growth grow outwards.
The stems growing inwards block out light when leafed up and prevent the fruit ripening,

Next, decide how short you want to cut the stems you wish to keep for reforming your now SHRUB size plant, I would cut these remaining stems back to about 12 inches from the ground for this first year as you want to encourage nice new healthy stems to form a new growing / fruiting system,

At this time I would also fork over the soil ( NOT deep forking, but enough to break up the top soil) allowing rain and feed to get to the roots, these fruiting bushes like a well drained soil but make sure it also retains moisture so I add about 5/6 inches of manure / compost around the root area about 2/3 feet circle from main stems, don't place this medium against the stems thou, it may cause fungus or hiding place for grubs,
You would also be advised to add at Winter, high Potash feed and in spring when adding the manure / compost, add also a feed rich in Nitrogen or Sulphate of Ammonia, about 1 ounce sor each Square yard of ground covered,.

The next year after all your new shaping and feeding, all you should require is an annual prune to keep in reasonable shape, spring prune as before and feed as before each year, these shrubs will outgrow you and the ones I have are over 100 years as I took over an old garden, a few don't give out a lot of fruit now but they shelter the others from deer etc, with very little work, you get great rewards.
Good luck. WeeNel.

Casper, WY(Zone 4a)

I grew a gooseberry bush until 3 years ago here in Wyoming. I got rid of it because I didnl't like the berries of this variety, purchased in Home Depot. They spread underground and I was afraid it would grow toward my irises. It got regular prunings every spring.

First prune out all dead branches down to soil level. Then cut out some older but live branches. Always cut just above an outside leaf bud, meaning a bud that is facing out away from the center of the bush. This goes goes for all plants. You want the center a bit open for aircirculation and for the sun to reach all branches to encourage formation of new growth.

By pruning wisely, you can make a shrub grow however you want. Always remember that leaf buds just under a cut will dictate the direction of a branch.

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