Pruning raspberries: when and how to do it, including tips from Monty Don

Pruning raspberries is a must-do job whether they’re summer or fall bearing. Here’s what you need to know

person pruning raspberries using a pair of secateurs
(Image credit: Alison Thompson/Alamy Stock Photo)

Pruning raspberries is one of the essential jobs that comes with including this delicious fruit in your own garden. But, just like the rest of the tasks any raspberry grower needs to complete for a healthy crop, pruning them is easy.

Key to learning how to prune raspberries is timing. When you prune will depend on whether you’ve chosen to grow summer-bearing or fall-bearing raspberries. The job itself? That’s straightforward once you’ve got the date in your diary.

With the knowledge of how to grow raspberries along with our guide on pruning both summer and fall (or ever) bearing raspberries, you’ll be set for success. 

Pruning raspberries: step-by-step guides

When should you be pruning raspberries? That depends on whether your plants are summer-bearing or fall-bearing (also called ever-bearing). If you have summer-bearing raspberries, they should be pruned after the harvest. Fall-bearing raspberries, on the other hand, should be pruned at the end of winter. 

Here, we’ve provided advice on how to prune raspberries in both categories. 

You may prefer to wear gardening gloves when pruning raspberries. You’ll also ideally need  a pair of the best secateurs, and may require some of the best loppers, too. You might also want to have a trowel or a spade to hand in case you need to dig up suckers.

Person cutting raspberry cane with secateurs

(Image credit: Future)

How to prune summer-bearing raspberries

Gardening expert Ruth Hayes of Amateur Gardening explains how to prune summer-fruiting raspberries.

  • Once summer-bearing (floricane) raspberries have finished cropping, cut them back to ground level. You may need to use loppers as the remaining canes have sharp thorns.
  • Then choose between six and eight of the strongest young stems from each plant and tie them to supports. Remove the unwanted young canes at ground level. 
  • If you have a large row of canes with new and old plants growing together, the canes to remove are the ones looking past their best with tatty, yellowing leaves and drying stems.

Ruth Hayes in the garden next to raspberry plants

(Image credit: Ruth Hayes/Future)

Monty Don’s top tips on pruning summer-bearing raspberries

Gardening expert, broadcaster and writer Monty Don gave his advice on pruning raspberries that are summer fruiting on his website

  1. Monty focuses on the color of canes when he’s pruning raspberries. It’s the brown ones that need to be cut down to the ground, he says, with the fresh green canes left standing. It’s these new canes that carry next summer’s crop, he reminds us.
  2. Reduce the new canes to the six strongest shoots, Monty recommends, and take out smaller and awkwardly positioned growth.
  3. Because the remaining canes need to be held securely, Monty’s advice is to grow summer-bearing raspberries against a permanent support system. Monty’s raspberry-growing support system features parallel wires firmly secured between robust posts.
  4. Monty uses twine to tie the canes to the wires, weaving the shoots around them and fanning them out evenly along the wire at each level. This way the raspberry canes are secure in the face of the winter winds that could damage them. 

Which are Monty Don’s favorite summer-bearing raspberries? He’s grown ‘Malling Jewel’, ‘Glen Ample’, and ‘Glen Moy’.

pruning raspberry canes with a pair of secateurs

(Image credit: Alison Thompson/Alamy Stock Photo)

How to prune fall-bearing raspberries

If you’re growing fall-bearing varieties, this is what you need to know about pruning raspberries.

  • Fall-fruiting raspberries should be pruned once they have lost their leaves at the end of winter – around February, so make it one of your winter garden jobs
  • They produce berries on the current year’s growth, so cut them back to the ground in order to remove all of last year’s canes. This will allow new canes to develop.
  • Bear in mind that fall-bearing raspberries can demand a little care in summer as well. If they’re overcrowded, reduce the number of canes.
  • You should also remove any suckers outside the rows during summer.

The fall-bearing raspberries Monty Don grows in his own garden? He’s planted ‘Autumn Bliss’ and ‘Polka’.

raspberry fruit on a raspberry plant

(Image credit: Future)

How to prune fall-bearing raspberries for two crops 

If your backyard is limited in size and you only have the space for some small vegetable garden ideas, you can grow fall-bearing raspberries only and harvest a summer and a fall crop from your raspberries once they are well established. Here’s what you need to do when it comes to pruning them.

  • At the end of winter choose the strongest fruited canes – six or so – per 3 feet (1m) of each row and prune to around 3 feet (1m) high. Cut the remainder of the canes to the ground.
  • In summer when they’re no longer fruiting, the canes you pruned only the top part of should be cut down to ground level.

Like the idea of harvesting two crops from your raspberries? The RHS recommends cultivars ‘Joan J’, ‘Autumn Treasure’ and Himbo Top’ as well suited to double cropping. 

Sarah Warwick
Sarah Warwick

Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor writing for websites, national newspapers, and magazines. She's spent most of her journalistic career specialising in homes and gardens – long enough to see interiors that blur the indoor/outdoor link become a must-have. She loves investigating the benefits, costs and practicalities of home improvement, both indoors and out, and it's no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, so she's a serial house revamper.