Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
January, 2010
Regional Report

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This boysenberry trellis endpost supports three levels of wires to anchor vines with clothespins.

Prune Cane Berries

Cane berries are most easily pruned when all their leaves have fallen off and the buds have just begun to fill out and show their light pink color. The dead canes and the plant structure are then quite apparent, and the thorns are more easily avoided.

When clipping away all the dead growth, be careful to not injure the new pink shoots at the crown. Then prune each strong cane from the root crown a foot or so above its point of attachment to the top horizontal support of the trellis. I use my Mom's old spring clothespins to anchor them to the top trellis since they're easily adjusted to keep vines taut.

If these long stringers are many feet long and had been allowed to scramble wherever they wanted for the whole growing time, they may have rooted their tips in mulch or soil. In this case, cut them off a good 3 or 4 nodes above the roots, and save them in a container with potting mix or soil covering the roots. After you're done with your pruning, you can plant them wherever there's space in the original bed, or share them with friends.

Prune side shoots just after the third strong bud. Spread and re-anchor the upright canes evenly along the trellis in order to keep the area open for good ventilation and promote the even spread of developing foliage.

This pruning and trellising procedure will encourage strong growth of fruiting vines but not of unnecessary foliage. Although cutting down all dead and growing vines at the soil level in a clean sweep is an easy approach, it encourages weak bushy growth with only a few berries setting very low on the plant.

An acceptable variation of this easier approach would be to clean-cut half of the berry vines every two years. Then, you'll always have a year-old patch to bear fruit the following summer, and can clear the other patch by clean-cutting.

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