How to Get Old Raspberry Plants to Bear Fruit

Getting overgrown or old raspberry plants to start producing raspberries again is fairly easy. Once they have a rejuvenation pruning and are fertilized, the plants should produce raspberries that year. Prune raspberry canes twice a year: after harvest (summer or fall) and again in spring. Doing this will keep your raspberry patch tidy and productive.

Things You'll Need

  • Gloves
  • Long-sleeved shirt or jacket
  • Pruning shears, saw or loppers
  • Compost or 10-10-10 commercial fertilizer
  • Straw or other organic mulch

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Prune to rejuvenate overgrown raspberries in early to mid-spring just as their buds begin to swell (leaf out).

Remove all weak, broken, diseased, and insect-damaged canes.

Select five or six of the sturdiest raspberry canes. These will bear fruit this year. Cut all other canes down to the ground.

Shorten the remaining canes to chest height (4 to 5 feet from the ground).

Spread 1 to 2 inches of compost around the base of the raspberry plants or use a 10-10-10 commercial fertilizer applying according to package instructions.

Spread 2 to 3 inches of straw or other organic mulch around the raspberry plants.

Cut the canes that produced raspberries down to the ground. Do this as soon as you have harvested all the berries (summer or fall depending on variety). More canes should have emerged from the roots that did not bear fruit. Select the strongest five to seven canes and cut the rest to the ground. These will produce raspberries the following year.

Tips & Warnings

  • Wear a long-sleeved shirt or jacket and sturdy gloves when working with raspberry plants to prevent scratches and scrapes caused by the thorns.
  • If your raspberry patch is hopelessly overgrown you can cut all the canes back to the ground. The following year new canes will emerge.
  • Burn or throw away raspberry canes rather than trying to compost them to prevent the spread of disease.


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