Growing Fruit Bushes

A sunny open site is best for fruit bushes with good shelter. The ideal soil is fertile, well drained and slightly acid, though they are tolerant of a wider range of soils. Plant 1.5-1.8m(5-6′) apart in the row and between rows.

Blackcurrants and Chuckleberry

Planting BlackcurrantsInitial Establishment

  • Plant about 1.5-1.8m (5-6′) apart into clean land.
  • Plant about 5cm deeper than where the roots arise, up to top of ruler in photo right, to encourage extra roots to form and branches to sprout from beneath the ground.
  • After planting reduce branches above soil level to a couple of buds, where the knive tips point to, and mark clearly where they are as they will seem very small in the space allocated to them!

Future Development

  • Pruning BlackcurrantsBlackcurrants fruit best on two and three year old wood, after this they become less productive. To counter this a good quantity of one year material needs to be developed each year.
  • For the first three let the bushes develop and fruit.
  • After the third years growth remove one third of the old growth back to close to soil level or a young upright branch. Take out any weak and inward growing wood.
  • Each year take out one third of the old wood to retain ten to twelve shoots per bush, about half of which should be one years growth.

Ongoing Maintenance

  • Provide nutrition in the spring by applying a layer of compost or manure. This will suppress weeds and make their removal easy. This mulch will also conserve moisture as the fruit swell in early summer.

Gooseberries, Redcurrants & Whitecurrants.

Planting RedcurrantsInitial Establishment

  • Plant both as they were on the nursery with a short stem before any branching.
  • Plant about 1.5m (5′) apart into clean land.
  • We supply one year bushes.
  • Redcurrants will have one or two main branches. After planting prune the leader of each branch by half to an outward bud, about where the knife is pointing.
  • Gooseberries will have some short branches. Just shorten a little any longer branches.
  • With time the aim in time is to produce open, goblet shaped bush with 8-10 permanent main branches.
  • Both redcurrants & Gooseberries can be grown as cordons if wished planting about 40cm apart. The text below concerns gowing as bushes.

Future Development

  • In following winters the framework should be developed. Cut the previous summers growth back by up to half on each branch to an outward facing bud for redcurrants & upward / inward for Gooseberries.
  • Gooseberries develop a drooping growth habit so pruning to an upward or inward growing bud helps the bush grow more upwards.
  • Reduce any crossing, crowded branches in the centre.
  • Once the framework of 8-10 branches has been developed the aim is to maintain it. Both bear fruit on spurs on older wood and at the base of previous summers growth.
  • Each summer, late June/early July, retain the branch leader but reduce the laterals coming off each main branch to 5 leaves. This keeps an open airy bush.
  • In the winter cut back the branch leader by half and reduce the laterals again to 2 buds.
  • In the future older less productive branches can be removed to a younger replacement shoot.


Raspberries are a perennial crop whose growth is biennial – vegetative growth (canes) in the first year, that fruit in the second summer then die back. Autumn fruiting raspberries are different. They grow and fruit in the same year. The fruit is on the tips of the earlier growth.

Initial establishment

  • Supplied in bundles of 5 plant canes about 45cm / 18″ apart in a row that ideally runs north to south.
  • If planting more than one row plant rows about 1.5-2m / 5-7′ apart.
  • Raspberries like a fertile well drained soil that is open but sheltered to avoid damage to the growing canes. They will tolerate partial shade but prefer good sunlight
    Raspberry basal shoots
    Raspberry basal shoots

    so do not plant beneath trees. Best to plant Autumn fruiting canes where they do not get any shade so as their later ripening fruit can ripen well.

  • Avoid planting where Raspberries or other Rubus species ie Blackberry have been planted previously.
  • Raspberries can be somewhat fickle to get established but they grow from basal shoots, from below soil level as in photo right. Last seasons canes can be reduced and eventually removed to soil level as the basal shoots grow.

Future development

We supply some summer fruiting and autumn fruiting varieties. Though planting is similar subsequent development is a little different.

Summer fruiting raspberries

  • These grow for one year and set fruit in their second year before dying back.
  • To prevent the new canes flopping over during the winter and when producing fruit in their second year install a post and wire support system. Three layers of wires should be fine up to about 1.5m. Ideally do this as the canes are planted, but it can be done up to the following autumn.
  • As the canes that have grown for one summer go into fruiting in their second summer a new quantity of canes will arise from the roots that will carry fruit the following year. These may be few in number in the first couple of years.
  • In the autumn cut back the old, now two year canes, that have fruited to ground level and tie in the strongest new, one year, canes removing any weak ones.
  • As the plants become more established and the canes more abundant the weaker first year canes can be removed in the growing season to put more growth into the better remaining growing canes to leave good stout canes spaced about 7.5-10cm apart that will provide fruit the following summer