How to Propagate Raspberries and Blackberries
Raspberries, blackberries, and other brambles – species of the Rubus genus in the Rosaceae (Rose) family – are some of the easiest and most fun edible perennials to cultivate.
They’re vigorous, hardy, and among the most delicious and nutritious fruits you can grow in your own backyard. With different varieties and a little planning, you can harvest fresh berries continuously from late spring through the fall.
Best of all, once you’ve got just a few plants established, you can propagate (clone) them indefinitely to your heart’s content. Plant freshly rooted cuttings in your yard, give them to friends, or even consider selling them if you’ve got enough to spare – prices for homegrown brambles in quart-sized pots can be as high as $6 apiece.
Propagating your brambleberry canes couldn’t be any simpler, and once you get the hang of it, you’ll be amazed at how quickly your yard will turn into a nursery for all of the cuttings you’re accumulating. Here’s how it works.
How to propagate brambles:
What you’ll need
- Quart-sized nursery pots or other similar containers
- Pruning shears
- Potting soil
- Peat moss
1. Fill your pots with soil mix.
Many people will recommend many different potting mixes, but I will say that I’ve had success with a simple 1:1 mixture of organic potting soil and peat moss. I don’t measure it precisely, I just look for a nice fluffy consistency.
Fill the quart-sized pots to the top, loosely – don’t pack it down. You’ll want to have these ready to go before you start making your cuttings so that you will be able to get the new plants into soil as quickly as possible after pruning.
2. Prune the cane.
What you’re looking for here is a healthy primocane – that is, a new cane growing this season. Though brambles are perennials (their roots will continue to send up new canes year after year), each individual cane functions as a biennial, which means that it grows and develops in its first year, then flowers and dies off in its second year. Floricanes are the second-year shoots that yield berries.
3. Cut the cane into pieces and prep the stem.
The ideal cutting is about 4-6”, but this doesn’t have to be too precise. My pruning shears are about 7” long so I use those to get a rough measurement. Understanding that I will cut one or two lower leaves from the stem to make room for roots, I try to cut the cane so that my new plant will have 2 or 3 good leaf stems to work with. In my example here, I cut a small primocane from one of my raspberry plants that was long enough to make two new plants.
Once your stem looks good, take a knife and gently scrape along the bottom inch. Or, use a stone to smash the bottom inch or so. It sounds destructive but this will actually encourage the new cuttings to grow roots where you've damaged them. This is known as "scarring."
4. Stick the cuttings into the pots and water thoroughly.
Seriously, that's all there is to it! People often recommend using rooting hormone, and while it does probably improve your success rate a bit, the fact is that brambles just don’t really need our help to clone themselves.
One reason wild brambles can be such a hassle is because of how readily they propagate – try cutting them down, and when you return in a few weeks you’ll find that all of the stems you cut grew their own roots, while the stumps have grown multiple medusa-like shoots that are tougher than ever.
Stick your cuttings down an inch or two into the potting mix. Water your new clones by gently misting, making sure to thoroughly soak the potting mix.
Keep the soil and the plants evenly moist, and over the course of a few short weeks, the cuttings will begin to take root. Congratulations, you’ve just transformed one plant into many! How cool is that?
The best time of year to make your cuttings is late in the summer, generally from July through September (in the Northern Hemisphere) depending on your local climate. The best time to plant them is in the fall, but if you have to wait until spring, be patient and hold off until at least a couple weeks before your region’s last frost date.
Propagating perennial plants is an immensely enjoyable skill to cultivate, and brambles are a great place to start. With even a small amount of space, you can begin developing your own nursery stock today. Why wait?
About the Author
Sam Sycamore is a writer and homesteader located in Simpsonville, Kentucky. He helps tend to a small-scale market garden alongside his wife Brooke, while propagating edible perennials and raising chickens in their backyard. To learn more about Sam and Brooke's story, click here. Contact Sam here, and keep up with his daily adventures on Instagram @doityoursammy.