Garden Clippings: Brambles

Brambles are a group of plants that fall under the scientific genus of Rubus.

| June 2007

  • blackberry brambles

    Photo by Mopsgesicht/pixabay

  • blackberry brambles

Homemade ice cream, jam and pie are the delicious results of a little care in the fruit garden. There isn't much we can do right now to ensure that this season's crop is not a bust, but this is the time to do some things that will help produce a good harvest of brambles and strawberries next year.

Brambles are a group of plants that fall under the scientific genus of Rubus. I'll focus on blackberries and raspberries in this column. If you've inherited a planting of brambles and aren't sure which of these you have, the identity is distinct when you pick a ripened fruit: Raspberries leave the stem and center of the fruit on the plant, blackberries retain the core of the fruit.

Brambles are similar to biennial flowers in the garden. They produce first-year canes or stems, called primocanes. In the second year, the primocanes become floricanes.

Primocanes do not produce flowers or fruit during the first year of growth, but they are the ones we want to pay attention to for next season's crop.

Floricanes are the producers of the fruit. Once these stems flower and fruit, they will die before the next season.

Whether you trellis your brambles or let them grow freely, the most important thing you can do for next season's production is to tip back the primocanes this year. These stems are normally tipped, or cut off, to keep the stems at a height of 2 1/2 to 3 feet tall. Tipping the stems encourages lateral branches to form, which is where the blooms and fruit will be produced.

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