Cutting Gooseberries - The Best Time And Instructions

Cutting Gooseberries – The Best Time And Instructions

Delicious gooseberries in your own garden to nibble them directly from the bush into your mouth or to make jam and other tasty dishes wish many amateur gardeners. The care is relatively simple, but for a rich harvest, the gooseberry bush must be cut back regularly. When is the right time for this, which tool is ideally used for this and how should be cut back as a rule, is described in detail in the following article.

Ideal time

The ideal time to prune gooseberries, whether as a bush, high stem, trellis or spindle is spring in March. Here, a warm, rain-free but still overcast day should be chosen for pruning. This will allow the cuttings to recover better and dry out more quickly. In this way, the shrub will be better protected from invading diseases or fungal attack. As a rule, care should be taken that on the day of cutting have not yet formed flowers.

Correct pruning

Gooseberries, like most berry bushes, grow directly from the root with individual shoots upwards. To ensure a good yield in the harvest, the gooseberry bush must be regularly pruned so that the shoots do not deprive each other of light. Therefore, shoots growing inward should also be removed.

Otherwise, the fruits will remain small, and in the case of bushes with spines, they will be hard to reach even if the shoots are too close together. In addition, a single shoot only bears berries for a maximum of five years. Therefore, if the shoots are older, they must be removed.

When pruning should therefore be done as follows:

  • when cultivated as a shrub, pruning is not necessary in the first three years
  • let eight to twelve main shoots develop, cut the rest
  • remove shoots directly above the ground before flowering
  • each shoot that remains needs sufficient light
  • therefore remove in such a way that the remaining shoots are well distributed
  • leave new shoots in the following years
  • remove shoots that are older than five years
  • these no longer produce any yield
  • shorten new shoots
  • cut back to five to six eyes

The gooseberry bush should receive pruning each year, removing the old shoots entirely and cutting back the remaining, younger shoots as described above. To help the amateur gardener know how old each shoot is and when to prune it, each year the new shoots that have grown and should be left standing should be marked with colored tape.

Cutting Gooseberries - The Best Time And Instructions

So you can always see exactly how old the shoots are and when they have become too old for further yield and are removed completely. So ideally for each year is taken a different color of ribbons. An ideal gooseberry bush should have two one-year-old, two-year-old, three-year-old and four-year-old main shoots in each of the next few years.

Cultivate as a high stem

Hardy shrubs that have been cultivated by pruning so that they have only a short, straight trunk with a bushy crown are called high stems. Thus, gooseberries can also be cultivated and grown not only as a shrub but also as a high trunk and thus as a gooseberry tree. If you do not want to buy a tree directly from the garden store, you can also grow the high trunk yourself, but this is not very easy. Therefore, when growing the gooseberry into a small tree should proceed as follows.

  • a straight, strong central shoot is important for the growing process
  • this is attached to a rod for support
  • all other shoots are removed directly above the root
  • also remove any side branches that may form on the main shoot
  • when the desired height is reached, remove the shoot tip except for three to four leaves
  • in this way the height of the trunk is established
  • new side shoots will now form up here, which are also shortened
  • in this way a dense, round ball is formed
  • if the trunk grows in width, the rod can be removed
Cutting Gooseberries - The Best Time And Instructions

Not only for the decorative view gooseberries are suitable cultivated as high stems, which can even find their place in a tub on the balcony or terrace, also the harvest is often more abundant with a gooseberry tree than with a bush.

Pruning gooseberry tree

To ensure that the tree also bears many gooseberries, the crown must also be pruned regularly. This is usually done at the same time in the spring as with shrubs. When pruning the gooseberry tree, whether homegrown or purchased in stores already ready, should proceed as follows.

  • carry out a topiary and maintenance pruning
  • for this purpose, thin out
  • remove all dry, rubbing and tightly standing shoots
  • cut off the branches growing towards the ground
  • leave only about five to seven of them
  • leave about two to three side shoots per branch
  • shorten the others down to two eyes
  • here too, pay attention to how old the shoots are in each case
  • On a high trunk, the previous year’s shoots bear the fruit, and this must be taken into account when pruning. The crown should be airy and permeable to sunlight and light, so a plentiful harvest is ensured.

Save shredded trunk

Unlike a shrub or espalier fruit, the crown of the high trunk can become bald if pruning is missed in only one year. Then the tree bears only a few and small, unformed gooseberries. To save the tree, only radical pruning will help, which should be done as follows.

  • leave only five branches
  • radically cut all the others
  • cut the bare shoots directly on the trunk as well
  • shorten the branches that remain standing up to two eyes
  • in this way new shoots are usually formed
  • a new crown is formed above the old one

In order to prevent further shortening, regular annual pruning should be carried out again in the spring in the following years.

Cutting Gooseberries - The Best Time And Instructions

Cutting fruit

Trellis is popular in many hobby gardens because it is versatile and also saves space. Thus, many trees and shrubs are also often grown as a natural fence along the garden border with the neighbor.

This has the advantages that the hobby gardener can harvest abundant fruit, but the fruit plants require little space as a narrow boundary, Even one or more gooseberry bushes can be grown as espalier fruit in this way. The cut here is basically the same as the cut of a shrub, yet here must also be paid attention to various other things.

  • Provide space for development
  • more than eight to twelve main shoots may remain
  • remove shoots that develop too far from the cane
  • cut all base shoots that are older than four years
  • side shoots with fruit find more support on the trellis
  • leading branch may well bear more than two or three shoots

bush with little space

Recently, it is also becoming more and more trendy to plant shrubs as a slender spindle. Thus, this method is quite possible with a gooseberry bush, especially if there is not enough space. Through targeted pruning, any amateur gardener can raise his gooseberry tree into the form of a slender spindle.

This should be done as follows:

  • When planting, insert a stick 150 to 200 cm high.
  • tie the strongest shoot to it
  • cut back side shoots, leaving two eyes
  • cut back other shoots to the ground
  • continue to attach the main shoot to the pole during growth
  • this way some fruits will be formed in the height

Of course, this method is useful only if there is really little space, for example, only a very small balcony, where a shrub or a high trunk would not find a place. The harvest with this method as a spindle turns out much smaller.


The right tool is important so that the gooseberry bush or tree does not suffer damage when it is cut. Thus, it is most important that the cutting tool be sharp and disinfected before pruning. To do this, use pure alcohol from the pharmacy or a special disinfectant from a well-stocked garden store.

This is important to prevent bacteria or disease from entering the cut. Depending on whether the gooseberry cultivated in your own garden is a specimen with thorns, when working with the bush should also be worn gardening gloves as a precaution, because otherwise the risk of injury from the thorns is great.

Besides the following tools are recommended for pruning:

  • Rose shears
  • sharp knife
  • to protect yourself from the thorns, pruning shears help
  • these are longer in the shaft and the thorns are not touched by the hands