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How to Grow Boysenberries

A guide to growing Boysenberries in gardens, allotments and containers


Family/Latin Name

Rosaceae - Rubus ursinus

Type of Plant

Hardy Perennial Cane

Suitable for

Gardens, Allotments, Large Containers

Recommended Forms Canes
Jump to:-     Pruning/Training   |  Pests & Diseases 


Growing Boysenberries - Details

See also:-  Fruit Growing Glossary  |  Tree Forms  |  Container Growing  | Buying Plants


Site and Soil

Prefer sun or partial shade, sheltered out of strong winds
Tolerant of soil types
Suitable for large tubs and containers

Plant Dimensions

Height: Trained -  1.8m/6ft  - Spread:   45cm/18"


Mature plants will give +4.5kg/10lb of fruit per year depending on the cultivar and height allowed

Time between planting  and harvesting

 1-year-old plants: Produce the season after planting

Planting Time

Best: Late October to Mid November

Alternative: Late November to March (soil conditions permitting)

Number of plants needed for pollination 1
How to plant - Open ground Space plants 1.8m/6ft apart in rows (depending on variety)
If growing more than one row, space the rows 1.8m/6ft apart
How to plant - in containers 1 plant per Container size minimum 30cm/1ft wide x 30cm/1ft deep. 

Make sure there are plenty of drainage holes in the bottom of the container. Place a 2.5cm/1" layer of stones or crocks in the bottom and cover with enough soil or compost so that when you place the tree in the container, the original planting depth (which you should be able to see on the stem)  5cm/2" below the top of the container. Fill the container with soil or a loam based compost within  5cm/2" of the top of the container. Firm well and water in.

  Aftercare Open Ground - The plants will need pruning, supporting and training (see below) Every year in late January apply a 5cm/2"  mulch of well rotted manure or compost to the surface of the soil surrounding the bush to a radius of at least 30cm/12". Water when necessary, especially as the fruit begin to colour. Remove any suckers which are growing too far away from the plant.
Containers -  Each plant will need pruning, supporting with 3 tall canes set equidistantly apart in the pot and training (see below). After the first season of fruiting, it is best to carefully remove some of the soil from the container and replace it with fresh compost every year in January. Do this very carefully so as not to damage the roots. water when necessary.
General - Protect from birds with netting. Once the fruit begin to swell, keep well watered, watering the base of the plants only to avoid the risk of fungal diseases.
  Harvesting Fruit for eating are best left to completely ripen on the tree. Harvesting takes place between late August and September depending on the cultivar.  Once the berries turn very dark, leave for a few more days before harvesting. Pick individual berries as and when they ripen including the white middle "plug" or cut with stalks using scissors. try not to handle the berries too much when picking.
  Propagation Tip Layering is the easiest method. At the end of July choose a low-growing long cane and carefully bend it down to the ground and bury the tip in the soil about 15cm/6" deep.  It will root over the winter and be ready to sever from the parent plant in Spring. Cut off the rooted portion from the main plant with about 30cm/12" of the old cane attached.

How to Prune Boysenberry Bushes and how to Train Boysenberries

Boysenberries must be trained on wires. These can be free-standing in open ground or against walls which is the best way to grow pot grown specimens. In open ground, the wires should be suspended between posts spaced 1.8m/6feet apart. Space the wires 30cm/12" apart up the posts, with the lowest wire about 90cm/3ft off the ground. 3  tiers are generally sufficient. Canes can be grown as long as is needed to fill the available vertical space, although the maximum recommended length is about 1.8m/6ft. Can also be grown up trellising both free standing or on walls.

Boysenberries produce best on 1 year old canes. Do not prune a boysenberry bush for the first year after it is planted. In subsequent years, as soon as harvesting has finished, cut down the 2 year old canes to ground level and tie in the new canes which will have grown during the summer. Prune the new canes back to approximately 20cm/8" high.

Boysenberry Pests & Diseases

Pests Diseases
Birds - like to eat the berries. Protect  with netting, cotton or cages.

Aphids - can cause leaves to curl. There are chemicals available to combat aphids which can be bought at garden centres. Organic methods include spraying with diluted washing up liquid ( 1 teasp per 2 litres of water), companion planting of flowers such as marigolds nearby.
Cane Spot  -  small purple spots on leaves and fruit turning into grey blotches. Cut diseased canes very had back to below soil level and burn infected canes. Spray with a copper fungicide as the new canes begin to grow.

Spur Blight
purple blotches no nodes on canes which turn silver. Buds and shoots die back in spring. Remove and burn badly diseased canes. Spray with a copper fungicide when the buds are 1cm/½" long.

Grey Mould (Botrytis)
- Causes stems to die-back
 Cut out dead wood back into living tissue. Avoid damp or humid conditions and if the bush is congested prune to permit air to circulate.

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