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Pruning Gooseberry Bushes

Updated on May 15, 2012

Although the majority of cultivation lies in Europe, Gooseberry bushes are quickly gaining popularity throughout the world. Their gaining interest is with good reason too, as these bushes thrive in a variety of climates and soil qualities. These plants are perfect candidates for gardeners who are looking for a perennial edible shrub that requires little maintenance. It's always helpful to remember that 'little' doesn't give way to skip out on any maintenance though, so pruning gooseberry bushes on a yearly basis is required to promote good health. Ah, for all the gooseberries your bushes will produce, the least you could do is give them a simple snip! If it's your first year cultivating, or you've just been lax on pruning thus far, this article will bring you up to speed on how to prune gooseberries.


Ripe Gooseberries. Photo By - Polandeze

When to Prune Gooseberries -

  • Pruning gooseberry bushes should be a yearly routine after the bush has been in ground for two years. One year old plants do not need to be pruned, so just enjoy their growth! It's up to you whether you wish to prune in autumn or spring, but be sure to pick one and stick with it. The trick to pruning gooseberries is to do so while the plant is in its dormant stage. This will cause minimal stress to your gooseberry bush.
  • Gooseberry bush pruning is normally not required during the growing season. The only times that you'll need to do so is to remove any dead or diseased branches.


How to Prune Gooseberries -

When pruning gooseberry bushes, it's good to keep in mind that the most productive fruit branches will be those that are a year old. So, in the case of your gooseberry bushes, you'll mainly want to trim off much of the older branches. Younger shoots produce more fruit.

The above illustration shows the proper number of one and two year old branches after pruning.

  1. The first step to properly pruning your gooseberry bushes is to remove any growth older than two years of age. These older branches are less productive and will hinder the growth of younger shoots. Cut these branches as close to the plant base as possible.
  2. Next, reduce your total number of two year old branches down to the two or three healthiest.
  3. If your plants grew a lot last year, it will be necessary to reduce the number of one year old branches as well. Reduce the number of these branches down to the six or seven healthiest.


Dead & Diseased Branches -

Not every branch will survive through the winter season, but its pretty hard to tell that they haven't until the first leaves come out. Once you can spot dead branches, go ahead and prune them out. As for diseased branches, don't use pruning to solve your problems. While pruning out branches may prove to reduce the amount of damage caused by disease and pests, it can't be substituted for proper disease/pest control. Investigate and research diseases and pests before you start hacking your bushes.


Gooseberries. Photo By - 46137

Overall, the amount of work required to keep your gooseberry bushes healthy and productive is very little, at best! You'll spend way more time collecting berries at the end of the season than you'll ever spend pruning your bushes. Thanks for reading my article on pruning gooseberry bushes. Please feel free to leave me any questions or comments you may have!

Please note that photos in this article belong to their respected owners. Cited photos were made available for use under the Creative Commons License.


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    • Fiona Jean Mckay profile image

      Fiona 3 years ago from South Africa

      Whoops, planted a gooseberry plant last year and had forgotten about it - went to check on it now and it is, fortunately, still doing ok.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I remember having a gooseberry once and it was somewhat like a grape. I hear they are good in pies. Thanks for the lesson on how to care for these bushes. Voted up.