November to March - Planting Fruit Canes

Berry Picker

November to March is the perfect time to plant fruit canes, which require minimum effort to grow and provide tasty home-grown fruit! Fruit canes are berry bushes which produce fruit on 2 year old woody shoots, these resemble canes stuck in the ground.

When do I plant fruit?
Both bare rooted fruit trees and potted fruit canes should be planted during their dormant season, which is between November and March. You can plant raspberries, blueberries and blackberries during this time. Soft fruit such as strawberries should be planted either in early autumn or early spring.

Where should I plant fruit canes?
Fruit canes should be planted in full sunlight between November and March - they will tolerate partial shade but will not be as productive. Fruit canes can be grown in containers, a 30cm pot is perfect.

How do I plant fruit canes?
Fruit canes prefer a rich moisture retentive soil which is slightly acidic. It is helpful to plant fruit canes in rows to make it easier to train them up supports, and we would recommend planting them 45-60cm apart.

How do I care for fruit canes?
Fruit canes require very little care other than pruning during their dormant season (November to March) to encourage new, healthy growth without overcrowding. The oldest stems of the fruit canes should be removed, leaving stems which are one season old to ensure a continued crop of fruit.

When do I harvest fruit?
Fruits will mature at roughly the same time each year. The specific time will depend on the variety as the berry picking season runs from late June through to October. Berries which are ready to be picked will be consistent in their colour, and will be firm and juicy. Using a berry picker to harvest berries means that you don’t scratch your arms on thorns. If they appear under formed or overly soft, they are either not ripe or over ripe. Fruits such as strawberries are ready to be picked once they develop a consistent colour, the fruit will also give off the distinctive smell associated with that fruit.

How do I preserve fruit?
Fruit will keep for about a week in a fridge, but it is best to use the fruit as soon as it is harvested. Berries from canes can be stored in the freezer until needed. Alternatively they can be used to make preserves such as jam and stored in airtight storage jars.

Can I grow fruit from seed?
Fruit can be grown from seed although the results can be variable, strawberries grown from seed will usually produce a smaller inferior fruit than the parent plant.

Can I take cuttings of fruit?
Fruit canes readily produce runners from their roots from May to September. These are explorative roots which will produce new shoots and new root systems at intervals from nodes, making it extremely easy to propagate from cuttings. To take a cutting you should allow a runner to develop a new root system. You will be able to tell this has happened because the node will begin sending up healthy new shoots. These are effectively clones of the mother plant and can be dug up with a spade and transferred to a suitable location. Alternatively hardwood cuttings can be taken during the dormant season (November to March). We use a Hydropod Cutting Propagator to improve the success rate of our hardwood and softwood cuttings.

Can I divide fruit plants?
Fruit canes will colonise their surroundings by sending out root runners. As the plant is effectively made up of several connected plants they can be separated relatively easily - this can also maintain plant health by reducing overcrowding.

For more information on fruit trees and vines - give our Gardening Angels a call 0845 602 3774 or send us an email