How to Grow Berry Canes
Cane berries such as Raspberries, Blackberries and Boysenberries are quite unique in the sense that the crown of the plant in the ground is perennial and the canes are biennial lasting two years. A part of the genus of plants ‘’Rubus’’, these delicious fruits are popular cool climate crops with gardeners and foodies alike. With fruit rich in vitamin C and a low glycemic index, cane berries are perfect for snacks and lunchboxes. Mr Fothergill’s seasonally stocks a variety of berry canes during early Winter each year which is the perfect time for planting these plants.
Cane berries enjoy rich loamy soil that is also free draining. They grow quite well in soil that is neutral to slightly acidic, somewhere between 7-6.5 pH. It is recommended that you only apply amendments once you have tested your garden’s pH. Luckily, there are many at home kits available that make this process quite simple.
Incorporating some compost and well-rotted manure will never go astray prior to planting. For clay soils, add in some handfuls of gypsum. They can also be grown in large outdoor pots too if soil conditions are not suited, just ensure they are given plenty of space.
Ensure your plants are located somewhere that receives full sun for most of the day and ideally partial afternoon shade. Most cane berries will struggle in very hot afternoon sun so you may need to provide protection with some shade cloth or shielding plants.
Your plants will need some sort of structure to grow on either a fence, wire trellis or hardwood stake. This will keep the plants neat and tidy and will help you out later when it comes to pruning. A 2 metre high structure should suffice.
Cane berries require ample water and fertiliser for good growth and fruit set. The roots can dry out quite quickly in warm weather so applying sugarcane mulch around your plants will be beneficial. Add some slow release fertiliser around your plants once they start to sprout to encourage healthy growth.
Watering every couple of weeks during fruit set with a diluted liquid seaweed solution will help your plants produce delicious fruit. There are also slow release fertilisers available that contain adequate levels of potassium, an important element for fruit production.
Pruning your cane berries
When it comes to caring for your plants, pruning is a crucial step that must be conducted properly otherwise your plant will not fruit next season. There are two main fruiting types of berry canes in the Mr Fothergill’s range that require different approaches:
Floricane Variety (Summer fruiting)
Floricane refers to the second year growth and this is what the majority of Mr Fothergill’s berries set fruit on. A floricane begins life as a new green primocane which then turns woody and brown over time. Once this second year stalk has fruited for the season, it is pruned off, allowing younger primocanes below to grow and develop into the next fruiting floricane.
Primocane Variety (Autumn fruiting)
Primocane varieties are ones that will fruit on the first season’s growth. The entire plant can be cut back to ground level in Winter after fruiting. Autumn Bliss is a primocane variety of Raspberry which produces abundant large fruits.
Pick your berries as soon as they have ripened. They are best eaten within a few days of harvest. Store in a breathable container similar to shop bought berries and store in the fridge avoiding the coldest part of the fridge. Excess berries can be frozen or made into jams to enjoy later.
In the case of raspberries, the leaves can also be harvested and used to make raspberry leaf tea, a popular herbal tonic especially for women.
Mr Fothergill's stocks a range of berry canes as well as other fruits and produce as part of our Summer Produce range. This range is available seasonally between June and September.