Red, green, blue or even dark purple – not only the color variety among berries is huge. Depending on the variety, the plants also differ in their requirements for the perfect location and their care. In this article we take a closer look at the blueberry and raspberry, but the other berry bushes are not neglected.
Planting berry bushes
All of the berry bushes in the Bloomify assortment can be planted year-round, provided there is no frost, has been announced, or a heat wave is just around the corner. The plants have grown up in a pot and are already well rooted in the soil. Growing up in the new location is easier for them than so-called bare-root shrubs, which are best planted in the spring and fall. Nevertheless, you can keep in mind: In moderate spring temperatures, planting berry bushes is always a little less complicated, because you need to water less than in high temperatures. If summer has already arrived, then wait for the really hot time and plant the berries rather between September and November. Then they have plenty of time before the first frosts to settle well in their new location and develop strong roots.
The berry bushes presented in this article are shallow rooted. This means that they spread their roots quite close to the surface of the soil. Therefore, if you want to grow the plants in a container, it should be large enough. When buying the plants, pay attention to how big they will grow. Small varieties like our blackberry Bernd and also the goji berry Günther are happy with smaller pots. Start with them with pots of about 20 liters in volume. In the midfield is raspberry Heidi, which is happy with a 25-liter pot as a starting size. Our currants Jutta and Johnny, gooseberries Stanislav and Stella, and blueberry Bodo need about 30 liters of soil volume to grow well.
Like almost all plants, berries do not like waterlogging, so when planting in a container, make sure there is a drainage layer at the bottom of the planter to allow excess water to drain away. The ideal location for berry bushes is sunny, although light partial shade is tolerated, especially by blueberries. The plants like to stand protected from the wind.
As for the soil, blueberry differs from its berry friends. It is absolutely necessary to pay attention to the fact that it needs a slightly acidic soil already at the time of planting. The planting soil is ideally mixed with bark compost or bark mulch, or use special planting soil, for example, rhododendron soil. Make sure the soil does not contain peat. Our bogs are an important CO2 reservoir and should be left alone or renaturalized instead of degraded. All other berry bushes, on the other hand, like loose, nutrient-rich soil that can be pH neutral or even slightly alkaline. For this you can enrich normal garden soil or potting soil with compost. An application of slow-release fertilizer at planting time will provide the berry bushes with nutrients.
A good cut keeps young and healthy
All the berry bushes that you can buy, are certain varieties that have been bred for very specific properties. So man has had a hand in this for a long time. Therefore, the argument “But in the wild, no one cuts the plants” unfortunately does not apply. Pruning is important so that the shrubs continuously develop new fruiting wood. These are the shoots that bear the fruit. Depending on the variety, these can be annual, biennial or even perennial shoots. The goal is to gradually remove the shoots that do not bear fruit, or bear very little fruit, and let younger shoots grow back. This principle is called fruiting rotation. So that you still know after the harvest which shoots now bore a lot of fruit and which did not, you can mark them accordingly, for example, by tying a string around the shoots that you want to cut off later.
After planting your blueberry, you can sit back for now: The bushes grow quite slowly and compactly, so no pruning is necessary in the first few years. You can only cut off dead branches.
With older specimens, you will eventually notice that the older shoots bear less fruit and no longer grow as many new shoots from the ground. Then it’s time to motivate the plant to grow again by pruning. Pruning always stimulates plants to develop new shoots or to branch out more. Usually this is not necessary until the blueberries are old enough to produce their full yield, which is when they are about 7 years old. The small bushes are about 3 to 4 years old when you buy them.
Pruning works best in February or March or October or November, as long as it’s frost-free. Cut off only a few old shoots at a time; blueberries don’t like heavy pruning. At least six old shoots should remain, a few more are fine. You should only cut the younger shoots if they are very weak or too dense. Blueberries bear the most fruit on two- to three-year-old shoots.
Very old plants that hardly form any new shoots and where regular pruning has been neglected can also be radically cut back once. This really shortens all the shoots to about a hand’s width, thus stimulating the plant to sprout new shoots.
Raspberries are divided into summer and fall raspberries, which has implications for proper pruning. Depending on the season, we offer a different variety at Bloomify, but most often our Heidi is a combination of summer and fall raspberries, as harvesting twice is simply better than harvesting once.
Summer raspberries bear their fruit in the summer on two-year-old shoots. These will not bear fruit the next year and can therefore be cut off immediately after harvest. If you don’t have time for pruning, you can mark the appropriate shoots with small threads and cut them back later in the summer. By this time, the summer raspberry has already formed new shoots (without flowers or fruit). The fruit will grow on these the next summer – so do not cut them off by mistake!
If you have missed the time for cutting in summer, you can also use the scissors in spring (February/March). Don’t worry if you haven’t marked your shoots. Because of the different ages of the shoots, they look a little different: The older ones are darker and also feel harder. Cut these off close to the ground. The younger ones are fresher and greener and remain standing.
In spring, shoots that have become too long for your climbing frame can also be shortened accordingly. This is not a good idea in the summer, as they would sprout new shoots right away and continue to grow.
Autumn raspberries bear fruit in the fall on one-year-old shoots and are best simply cut back completely in early spring, in February or March. They will then sprout new shoots. Pruning back in the fall is not recommended because it allows you to enjoy the fall foliage coloration, it allows the plant to soak up the last rays of sunshine of the year, and it allows small insects to find shelter in the old shoots and leaves.
There are also cultivars that combine both growth forms and can be harvested in both summer and fall.
They are actually pruned just like summer raspberries: The biennial shoots that will no longer bear fruit in the coming season are best cut back immediately after harvest. But unlike summer raspberries, the one-year-old shoots also bear fruit already – they have that in common with autumn raspberries. These shoots remain next spring, because then they are already biennial and will bear fruit in the summer.
For all of them applies:
Each raspberry should start the new season in the spring with a manageable number of shoots, so that the harvest will be better and the plant will be better aerated. For summer raspberries, 5 – 6 shoots per plant are recommended, and for fall raspberries, 10 – 12 are possible. It is best to cut off very thin or very thick specimens – the medium ones are usually the healthiest.
There are also different cultivars of blackberries, which differ somewhat from each other in terms of care. You’re probably familiar with the wildly sprawling, meter-high blackberry hedges that often spread across fallow land. Our Bloomify blackberry, on the other hand, is a small-growing variety that doesn’t sprawl and doesn’t need a climbing frame. It bears fruit on one-year-old or this year’s shoots, which ripen from August to September. Two-year-old shoots (also called “last year”) also produce fruit that ripens as early as July.
Pruning of younger one-year-old shoots is possible in the fall or spring (by which time they can be considered biennials). The more of them are left standing, the higher the earlier harvest will be from July.
If you cut back the younger shoots more, fresh shoots will grow and the harvest from August will be larger. This way you can control when you want to harvest and how much.
There are different types of currants, probably the best known are black currants (also called cassis) and red currants, which also differ in how they need to be pruned.
The black currant needs to be pruned regularly. The goal is for the plant to have a good 10 shoots that are nicely branched. It is on the branches that most of the fruit is located. Immediately after harvesting, you can cut off weakly growing or damaged shoots. Branches older than four years bear less and less fruit and must be removed. To do this, cut back the oldest 2 to 3 shoots to just above the ground in the fall or late winter to March. These are easily recognizable because they are clearly darker than younger shoots. You can trim the remaining, younger shoots. Look for a branching and cut them off above. Now they can grow stronger and form new side shoots.
It bears its fruit mainly on two- to three-year-old shoots. Therefore, you can remove the oldest shoots after harvest. Cut them off close to the ground with sharp secateurs. If your plant is still quite young, it will have no or only a few old shoots that no longer bear berries and pruning is not yet necessary. In the summer, mark the shoots that bear no or very few fruits and train your eye to see exactly what older shoots look like. It is essential to always leave enough young shoots, even if the annuals are not yet bearing fruit.
Pruning gooseberries and jostaberries
Gooseberries bear most of their fruit on two- to three-year-old shoots, so older, woody shoots can be removed. Also, a lot of fruit sits on side shoots, which are essential to leave standing. Gooseberries, however, are not pruned until spring, even if they are planted now in the fall.
You don’t have to worry about the jostaberry yet either. It also bears on perennial shoots and must be cut only after a few standing years.
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