Pruning a gooseberry

How to prune bush fruit

Regular pruning of bush fruits like gooseberries and blackcurrants is essential to get the best harvests. We explain how to do it.

Bush fruit such as currants and gooseberries grow in a conventional, shrub-like fashion, with new shoots sprouting from their branches.

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Unless pruned regularly, these can grow to more than 3m high, while the berries will be smaller and less easy to harvest, especially if the stems are thorny. Pruning is therefore essential for all bush fruit, especially where space is limited.

Here’s our advice on pruning bush fruit to boost your harvests. 

Blackcurrants crop best on two-year-old stems, which should then be cut down to stimulate new stems.

Blackcurrants

Blackcurrants crop best on two-year-old stems, which should then be cut down to stimulate new stems at the base. Prune out old stems at the base – these are thicker and darker in colour. Leave one-year old stems to grow 
and fruit the following year. 

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Blueberries

Blueberries don’t need any pruning for the first two years. Prune mature blueberries between November to March when they’re dormant. They will usually have one-third old wood. Remove a quarter of this, cutting stems back to the base or to a young shoot further down the stem.

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Gooseberries

Aim to produce a framework of well-spaced branches that carry fruiting spurs along their length. In midsummer, cut back all sideshoots to two or three leaves from the base. In winter, prune this year’s growth to four buds from the base after fruiting. This encourages spurs to form that will carry fruit next year.

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Red- and whitecurrants

Prune red- and whitecurrants as you would gooseberries, as they produce fruit on sideshoots made the previous year. Aim to create a well-branched, upright bush with fruiting spurs along the main stems. In winter, shorten the sideshoots to one bud. Remove shoot tips and old, unproductive wood. 

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