Gooseberry pruning: basic rules and tips

Gooseberry is one of those popular shrubs that can be found in almost any garden area. This unpretentious culture does not require complex care, it is enough just to correctly form the bush and prune it in a timely manner.

Why and how gooseberries are cut

Pruning is an affordable and effective way of caring for many trees and shrubs, with which you can solve a large number of problems - from low yields to crown formation for decorative purposes. For gooseberries, given the peculiarities of their structure, regular pruning is a prerequisite for the proper development and maintenance of vital activity. Do not neglect this event if you want to grow a healthy, viable plant and get a quality harvest.

With proper care from one gooseberry bush, you can get up to 20 kg of berries

Reasons for pruning

The reasons why gardeners resort to pruning gooseberries can be as follows:

  • Rejuvenating landings. A gooseberry bush that has reached the age of 8 years is considered old. To prolong its life and maintain fruiting, gardeners often resort to anti-aging pruning. The fact is that the root system of the bush and its aerial parts are in proportional relationship. Removing some of the shoots or shortening them stimulates a strong flow of energy from the roots to the branches, which, in turn, form new stems that have a dense leaf cover and are capable of abundant flowering.
  • Increased productivity. The gooseberry is distinguished by its ability to form a large number of new shoots in a relatively short time. If they are not thinned, the crown will become too thick, which will negatively affect pollination and fruit ovary. Getting rid of the extra branches of gooseberries and creating a well-ventilated crown will make pollination more affordable and efficient.
  • Preventive measures. Gooseberries, like other garden crops, are susceptible to various diseases, many of which are caused by excessive thickening of the shrub (especially for fungal diseases). Pruning will ensure that all shoots are well ventilated, have sufficient sunlight, and help prevent or reduce contact between healthy branches and diseased ones.
  • Crown formation. Pruning for this purpose is carried out in several stages and is a necessary measure to ensure the favorable development of the shrub.

Basic toolkit

To prune gooseberries, you need a pruner and a lopper. It is best to work with cotton work gloves to protect against spikes or accidentally cut yourself on the tool.

  • Pruner. With its help, you can easily remove small branches on the surface, but it will not cope with thick branches.

    It is convenient to cut off small branches located at the edge of the bush with pruning shears

  • Lopper. Designed for pruning powerful branches (up to 5 cm in diameter) located in the depths of the shrub, which cannot be cut with pruning shears.

    The lopper is similar to the pruning shears but has longer handles to handle heavy loads and hard-to-reach places

Try to use tools that meet the following requirements:

  1. Quality and durability. The tool should not break when applied with great force (for example, when pruning thick branches).
  2. High quality sharpening. The blade of the tool must be sharp and free from chipping and other imperfections.
  3. Low weight. It is much more convenient to work with such a tool than with a heavy one. This will allow you to perform a large amount of work and save energy.
  4. Comfortable grip. In addition to a suitable shape, the handle should also have special rubberized inserts, thanks to which the hands will not slip.

If possible, try to get a red or orange instrument - it will be clearly visible on the ground and will not get lost in the green thickets.

Gooseberry Pruning Secrets

In order for your gooseberry to develop in the best possible way, you must first form the shrub correctly (familiarity with its structure will help to do this), and then regularly carry out actions aimed at maintaining this shape.

Bush structure

The gooseberry forms a perennial bush, reaching a height of 1.5 m. A crown of approximately the same diameter is formed from branches of different ages and basal shoots. The latter grow from those stem buds that are located at the base of the bush. The root collar is the part of the trunk immersed in the soil. As a rule, it is about 30 cm long and about 5 cm in diameter.

By autumn, the root green shoots will be covered with bark and become full-fledged branches.

In the first year of life, the basal shoots are distinguished by intensive growth; by the middle of summer they change their green color to reddish or brown. By autumn, young stems will become woody, and in the second year of life, shoots will appear on them. This is how the branches that form the basis of the shrub are formed. Each year, an increase is formed on them, reaching a length of 8 to 30 cm. Over the summer, it will acquire bark, lignify and become a full-fledged branch of the second order. New shoots will also appear on it, which later turn into third-order stems, etc.

As a rule, branches of the first, second and third order are distinguished by the greatest fruiting, since they are the most developed and strong. Thanks to regular pruning, you can ensure the constant renewal of such shoots, which means they can maintain their vitality and yield.

When pruning gooseberries, it is necessary to try to completely remove low-yielding branches of the 4th and 5th order in order to stimulate the development of productive branches of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd order

Keep in mind that due to the special structure of the root system, gooseberries form horizontal (root) shoots, which must also be removed regularly.

Bush formation

The amount of work on the formation of the crown depends on the age of the bushes.

First year

You need to start pruning from the moment the gooseberry seedling is planted in the ground. In this case, no damage should be inflicted on the fruit bud, so make the sections at an angle of 50about 5 mm above it.

  1. Examine the seedling and trim off any weak and damaged stems.
  2. Tame the remaining shoots to the third or fourth bud (you need to count from the soil level).

Do not be afraid to carry out the pruning procedure on a young seedling: one of the features of a gooseberry is the rapid growth of new shoots. Over the summer, your shrub will not only get stronger and form a root system, but also acquire a large number of stems again.

Second year

By early fall, your shrub should have approximately 3 biennial branches and the same number of annuals. To do this, trim as follows:

  1. Choose no more than seven of the most viable and conveniently located shoots growing from the ground (root necks) and try to trim them so that they are about 30 cm high.
  2. Cut the remaining branches so that their length does not exceed 20 cm.
  3. Remove horizontal shoots and shoots that have not reached 20 cm in length at the time of pruning so that they do not draw on the nutrients necessary for the development of stronger branches.

Third year

In the third year after planting, there should be about 12-18 branches of different ages on the gooseberry, which form the basis of the shrub. To achieve this, take the following activities:

  1. Again, completely remove all horizontal growth, as well as non-viable weak shoots.
  2. Cut the remaining branches 12-15 cm from the top, especially if there is poor growth and stunted development of the plant.

In the first year after planting, the branches are cut by about 1/2, in the second - by 1/3, in the third - the tops are shortened and the horizontal shoots are cut

4th and subsequent years

In the fourth year after planting, the gooseberry bush becomes an adult and begins to bring the maximum amount of harvest, therefore, the formation procedure during this period should not be neglected. Pruning measures should include timely removal of twisted and unviable branches. It is also necessary to cut out young shoots, including those launched from the root collar, in order to prevent the growth of horizontal shoots, because the gooseberry branches must be raised above the ground.

The bush should consist of 15–20 stems of different ages. Branches older than 5 years should be removed, and 3-5 strongest shoots should be left from the root shoots.

An adult gooseberry bush should have 15-20 branches no older than 5 years

Remember to feed the plants after pruning. To do this, dig a trench about 30 cm deep and apply fertilizer into it, and then bury it.

  1. In the spring, feed the gooseberries with nitrogen fertilizers (dosage 50–70 g per bush).
  2. In the fall, fertilize the bust area (it covers a distance of about half a meter in circumference from the shrub) with peat chips or compost.

Anti-aging pruning

When the gooseberry is 7-8 years old, you will need to do anti-aging pruning. In this case, you can remove a maximum of 1/3 of the branches.

  1. Cut out old, twisted, weak, diseased shoots, leaving only the strongest and most developed basal stems.
  2. Check the top on the remaining branches. If you find a defective one (for example, dried or broken), cut it off in the area of ​​the first strong lateral process.

Timely removal of a dried or blackened tip has a beneficial effect on the healthy part of the branch

If your gooseberry is very old (for example, it is 10 years old or more), then anti-aging pruning will be more radical. You will have to cut all branches from the base, leaving only the 5 strongest and most developed ones. After such pruning, with proper and timely care, the shrub will quickly become covered with new shoots and gain strength. It is advisable to carry out rejuvenation in the spring, so that over the summer the shrub can get stronger and form fresh shoots.

The rejuvenation procedure for very old shrubs over 20 years old, as a rule, is not carried out.

Pruning a neglected bush

Sometimes gardeners give up caring for gooseberries, for example, due to its great age, or simply do not pay attention to the bush. This leads to a thickening of the berry, and therefore to a decrease in its yield. In addition, such a plant is susceptible to various diseases and can easily infect other crops. Pruning will help you prevent this situation.

Keep in mind that it will take two to four years for a neglected shrub to fully recover.

  1. Thin the shrub first. To do this, cut out all the old blackened branches, as well as broken, curved shoots and horizontal shoots to the base.
  2. Leave 5 of the most viable vertical shoots. Cut off dried tops from productive branches to the first strong side branch.
  3. In the future, regularly prune your gooseberries according to general rules to maintain the shape of the crown and prevent the shrub from thickening again.

Seasonal pruning of the bush

Pruning is carried out twice a year - in the spring and autumn. In summer, the procedure cannot be carried out, because the gooseberry quickly forms a large number of new branches, so the event will be useless.


Spring pruning of gooseberries is carried out even before the buds bloom on the bush. Gooseberries wake up very early - as a rule, already in the second half of March, buds begin to swell on it, and in late March - early April, the first leaves appear. If you want to prune in the spring, then it is important to have time to do it before the sap flow in the trunk - if possible in the first decade of March. It is not recommended to injure shoots with blossoming leaves - this will significantly weaken the plant, which means, reduce its yield.

  1. Remove old branches (as a rule, they are almost black) and horizontal growth.
  2. Thin the shrub: cut off non-viable and defective (twisted, broken) stems. Clean well the center of the shrub from young weak shoots and lean vigorous branches.
  3. Cover the areas of large cuts. For this purpose, use a garden var.

Video: spring pruning gooseberries


If you don't have the opportunity to prune the gooseberries in the spring, then you can do it in the fall. It is not recommended to carry out a shortening pruning in early autumn: this can affect the growth of new shoots, which will not have time to woody before the onset of cold weather and will die. Therefore, autumn pruning is carried out in the period starting after harvest and foliage falling and continuing until the onset of cold weather.

  1. Examine the bush and completely remove any blackened shoots.
  2. Thin the shrub: eliminate non-viable and defective branches (twisted, diseased, broken), as well as inconveniently located (for example, strongly protruding from a common bush or hanging low above the ground). Try to clear the middle of the shrub as much as possible to get rid of newly formed shoots and low-yielding vigorous branches.
  3. Be sure to use a garden varnish to cover up the places of large cuts.

Remember that the maximum number of branches cut should not exceed 1/3 of their total number.

Video: autumn gooseberry pruning

Gooseberry pruning does not carry any difficulties and even a novice gardener can handle it. The main thing is to carefully and in a timely manner follow all the recommendations for carrying out this event, and the shrub will respond to this with health and a bountiful harvest.

  • Print

Rate the article:

(37 votes, average: 3.8 out of 5)

Share with your friends!

Pruning gooseberries in the spring: timing, rules and schemes for beginners

If you do not carry out regular pruning, then over time, the gooseberry will grow so much that it will begin to shade itself, hurt more often, and its fruiting will noticeably deteriorate. Most likely, it happened with your thorny berry bush. It doesn't matter, this is fixable.

After reading this article, you will learn when and how to prune gooseberries in the spring, which branches should be removed completely, which should be shortened, and which should be left as replacement shoots so that you always have a good harvest!

When to prune gooseberries

Experienced gardeners choose spring for their work. Also, some molding treatments can be carried out in the autumn or summer season. Spring is good because you can select branches that have died out during the winter and eliminate them.

Forming can be carried out year-round and this will allow you to achieve the desired success. It is very easy to learn how to do it correctly step by step, especially if photos and videos are presented.

You just need to take some time to prepare the gooseberries, and then it will grow strong, healthy and bring a large number of berries.

Pruning cuttings for propagation:

  1. The stem of the shoot is cut so that it is no more than 20 cm. The upper bud is removed. All leaves except one are removed from the stem.
  2. Cuttings treated with growth stimulants are cut and placed in a jar of clean water. It is not recommended to change the water, just topping it up.
  3. Cuttings are planted as soon as roots appear.

Cuttings for propagation can be saved after the autumn pruning, for this it is enough to put them in the cellar, having previously wrapped them in polyethylene.

You can start pruning after the last harvest and leaf fall. The main thing is not to delay with this case, not to wait for the onset of severe cold weather. Shoots must be cut off completely, at the very base. If done incorrectly, it can attract various harmful insects.

Winter and summer are not very suitable for pruning, as conditions are not very favorable during this period. Therefore, very often all work is carried out exclusively in spring or autumn.

There are also many different technologies for forming bushes, which have been selected empirically and give good results. Gooseberry pruning, timing, when and how to do it correctly is important for further growth.

Tips and tricks for beginners

You need to familiarize yourself with the tips for beginners in advance in order to properly form gooseberry bushes:

  • the tails of the shoots are cut with a sharpened secateurs
  • cut sites are treated with urea liquid
  • the tops of old branches are cut off by 20-30 centimeters
  • pruning is best done in autumn or spring
  • do not use non-sharpened garden tools that can damage the stem.

Previous Article

Stenocereus beneckei f. inermis

Next Article

Prairie Garden Design: Tips For Creating A Prairie Style Garden