Raspberry Pruning Basics - Start

Raspberry Pruning Basics – Start

This post is about Raspberry Pruning Basics | Spring Raspberry Pruning | Rubus idaeus.  We first go over the different type of canes, then we get into the actual pruning.

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Red raspberry with a botanical name of Rubus idaeus and sometimes called European raspberry is the common red-fruited species that you throughout Europe and Asia.  It is also the common type you find in North America even though the North American native variety is Rubus strigosus.

The Basics

In order to properly prune raspberry plants, you must understand the different canes so you know which ones to prune when.


Raspberries have perennial root systems and biennial canes. The first-year cane is a primocane.  The next year that cane is called a floricane and the year following that, the cane dies and can be completely removed.  An established raspberry bush will have all three types of canes.  This year’s new canes will be primocane, which will be next year’s floricane, but you will have new canes next year that will be that year’s primocane as well.


The primocane are the first year’s growth. These canes do not have lateral branches and usually grow four to eight feet tall. Unless you have a variety referred to as “ever-beaing” these canes will not product fruit.  If you do have an everbearing variety, your raspberry bush will give you two fruitings – one on the floricane in the summer and one on the primocane in late summer into the fall.


The floricane is what the cane is called in the second year.  It will not grow taller, but will grow lateral shoots.  The canes have will have short shoots called raceme that will have flowers on them in late spring to early summer and will produce fruit, usually in mid-summer, but some do produce in late summer.

Spent Floricane

The dead wood, also known as spent floricanes, are last year’s floricanes.  They will have a grayish, dead look to them and will have dead lateral shoots on them.

Raspberry Pruning Basics - Spent Floricane

Raspberry Pruning Basics – Spent Floricane


You will be pruning in the mid-winter or very early spring.  Because of this, you will not have to worry about primocane.  Primocane have not come up yet.  All you have on your bush right now are floricane or dead canes.  This makes things easy.

Floricane Pruning

For the floricanes, you will get fruit from them this year, so you want to be selective.  You will want to prune out and leave only about three or four canes per linear foot and you want a row width to only be about two-foot wide.  You will want to leave the largest strongest looking canes, pruning out the smaller, more spindly canes.  If you have an ever-bearing variety, you will also need to prune back the tips that flowered last year.

What About Last Year’s Floricane

Last Year’s Floricane will be dead wood this year.  It should be obvious to pick them out.  There will not be any buds on it and by mid-winter it should look like obviously dead wood.  These get cut down to about 1-inch from the ground.

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Raspberry Pruning Basics Pruned and Thinned

Raspberry Pruning Basics Pruned and Thinned

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