How to Grow Boysenberries

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Days to germination: Usually planted by seedling
Days to harvest: 1 year
Light requirements: Full sun, to light shading
Water requirements: Water regularly in dry weather
Soil: Well-drained soil
Container: Suitable for pots


The boysenberry is another hybrid vining berry, a mix of raspberry, blackberry and the loganberry. Ironically, the loganberry itself is also a cross between the raspberry and the blackberry. The fruit looks like an elongated blackberry, and it’s larger than either the raspberry or blackberry alone.

Boysenberries are usually eaten fresh, or made into juice or jams. They have quite a bit of fiber, as well as vitamin C, folate and even manganese.

They are named after the gardener who first created the hybrid, Rudolph Boysen. The man who actually discovered the berry was Walter Knott, who grew them and create the Knott’s Berry Farm brand (and eventual amusement park).

Boysenberries are not quite as cold-tolerant as its raspberry cousin, but can be grown as a perennial bush up to zone 4 or 5.


Like other vining fruits, most people buy seedlings or rooted cuttings rather than try to start their own vines from seed.

For spacing, keep each planting about 4 to 5 feet apart as they can spread quite a distance each year. If you want to use wires to keep your plants up off the ground (see below) you can either put the stakes in now or wait until the bushes have grown. Since you put the stakes in at the ends of the rows, you don’t have to worry so much about damaging the roots when you do so.

Growing Instructions

Boysenberries produce their fruit on year-old canes or vines, so you have to prune accordingly. The easiest way to manage a bush is to cut back any cane that you have already picked from because they won’t produce fruit again. Any new canes that grow during the year should be left alone because they are the ones that will fruit next year.

A boysenberry bush can be left alone to grow naturally, but it can be a bit awkward doing a lot of berry-picking through thorny branches. It will make for an easier harvest if you train the vines to grown either upward along a trellis or horizontally along wires. The horizontal method is the most common.

Sink stakes or posts at each end of your boysenberry row, and string up wire between them at a height of around 3 feet. Once the canes get long enough, tie them up to the wires and let them grow straight out on either side. The canes don’t grow like pea vines and they are still quite woody, so you need to be careful you don’t break them while you move them around.

Your plants will continue to produce berries for many years, but not forever. To keep your harvest coming, you may want to start new plants without having to go buy new ones. The most common way to propagate boysenberries (any vine berry actually), is with tip layering.

Take one of the new canes (one that hasn’t fruited yet), and gently bend it down to the ground. Bury about 6 inches of the cane under 2 or 3 inches of soil, leaving the vine horizontal as best you can. Eventually, the cane will put down roots of its own and start a whole new plant. Once it starts to produce new canes and leaves, you can cut the branch that connects it to the original plant.


Boysenberries can be grown easily in pots, but you will have to be diligent with your pruning to keep it contained and thriving. Containers should be 16 to 18 inches across and 12 inches deep for each boysenberry bush.

Just like with garden plants, you need to prune out any branches after they have produced their fruit. But you also need to be firm with your plants, and also cut out some of the new canes as well so the bush doesn’t get beyond about 5 canes in size.

To keep your plants growing well year after year, give them fertilizer each spring and fall, and keep them well watered. You can keep your bushes trained onto horizontal wires, but it’s usually not as necessary as it is with garden-grown bushes.

Pests and Diseases

Once your fruit starts to ripen, the biggest pest by far will be the birds. If your berry patch is small enough, you should cover the plants with bird netting each year to keep them out. Picking berries frequently when they are ripe can help make sure you get the most of the harvest instead of the animals.

Mold and mildew can attack boysenberry, particularly Botrytis mold. Gray patches and dying canes are the best indicator of this problem, and fungicides may help if it’s not too far gone. Immediately cut off the leaves and branches showing symptoms. You can prevent mold from forming by not spraying the leaves with water every time you water the plants. Too much moisture leads to mildew and mold.

Basically, any problems that may arise with either raspberry or blackberry can effect boysenberries as well. So watch out for cane borers, as well as other kinds of rust and fungus.

Harvest and Storage

Depending on the specific variety of boysenberry, and how large you let your bushes get, the average mature bush can provide you with 8 to 10 pounds of berries each year.

Your plants will need the first year to grow and put out their first canes, so your first harvest won’t be until the second year.

When you pick the berries, the little white plug should come off the plant along with the berry, which is different from raspberries when the core is left on the stem. Boysenberries are ripe when they have turned a very dark red or black color, and they can bruise easily. Harvest time generally runs between July and August.

Keep your fresh berries in the fridge, for up to a week or you can freeze them to last for several months. To keep them from freezing together, spread them on a baking sheet or large tray until they are solid. Then they can be packaged together in a freezer bag without sticking. Making jam or jelly is another typical way of preserving boysenberries.

35 Responses to “How to Grow Boysenberries”

  1. zee  Says:

    thanks for info. Though, I am still interested in the actual steps of starting from a seedling, and whether you mean buying a seed pack (from where?) or acquiring the seeds from the berry (how?)?

  2. Dale  Says:

    They come only as plants, not seeds. Being hybrid crosses between different species of plants, they will not be true to seed. That is where man intervenes and either grafts or roots the desired plant types. Same with apples, peaches, apricots, etc.

  3. Rose  Says:

    May I know what kind of fertilize is the best for boysenberries. Are they same as blueberries need acid soil?

  4. Jazmine  Says:

    Is the picture showing boysenberry pie?

  5. carole copeland  Says:

    I would like to know how long do the bushes last as far as years? And how long it take to get a new plant with you method of burying the vine?


  6. Administrator  Says:

    Bushes are constantly replenishing themselves and should last, as a planting, for an indefinite number of years.

    Once you bury a vine you’ll have a new plant, rooted and able to be transplanted, in about a month.

  7. bob  Says:

    I have a boysenberry that I’ve been growing for over a year now – trained on an east facing wall between two wires above a couple tables of bonsais. They get morning and some afternoon sun but the sun gets behind the wall they’re on mid afternoon. I have HUNDREDS of flowers, but it seems that nothing is fruiting, and the flowers are just dieing. Is this part of the normal “it can take up to 5 years for them to produce”? I have blackberries in the same planter, south facing that are just starting to produce, and were planted at the same time.

    Lastly, with the way I’ve woven the vines between the two wires that cover the wall, it would be near impossible to selectively identify much less prune older growth – it’s a big rat’s nest. Would you suggest leaving them go and trimming off the portions of vines when harvesting (easy identification), or do the whole plant sort of like roses?

  8. bob  Says:

    I should add – I live in southern California probably within 12 miles of Knott’s berry farm where they originated (though I’m growing a thornless variety). I did notice a red berry on it today!

  9. bob  Says:

    While I’m at it – can I ask if you know what root stalk is usually used when producing the thornless variety? I’ve had many runners comming up in the rest of the bed where I’ve got the plant planted, but when they come up – they have thorns, and I’ve been weeding them out. I’ve got blackberries, peppers, herbs, and an avocado tree in the same bed so I can’t let it take completely over.

    thanks much for any insight you can provide.


  10. Dianne Bennett  Says:

    I live in New England. I have a bush I started over the winter inside.So far Iv’e only seen 2 berries, and my plant is 3 ft tall. Can I winter it inside,and bring it out in the spring.

  11. Debbie  Says:

    I have boysenberries that are children of Walter knotts my grandfather was a friend of his and I have moved the plants every where I live even now in Colorado

  12. Debbie  Says:

    sorry children of Walter Knotts berries :0)

  13. Lisa  Says:

    This article was very helpful to me. I obtained 9 boysenberry starts (they may be tayberry, the lady forgot)on a whim for free. I had only done research on raspberries, planning on them, but boysenberries sound so much better, since I can put them in big containers. That is good to hear! My soil is nasty clay that sits underwater this time of year. I use raised beds and containers.
    I was told that 9 plants will be much too much for my family of three!

  14. Cary Bradley  Says:

    Thanks for this very informative article. Dianne Bennett, I am also in NE and bought starts from a fella in San Diego through the mail. Mine do very well planted outdoors and then just wound into coils and weighted down, and covered with about 6 inches of dried leaves. Come Spring, they are raring to start growing. Many root right into the soil and can be clipped away to start new plants, or just pulled out of the ground, roots dry, and the fruiting begins. Debbie, how cool to have progeny of Walter’s plants! My mom worked at Knott’s in the 40s and the place has a very warm spot in my heart. Congratulations!

  15. Chare  Says:

    I live in Wyoming and I was planning on growing some boysenberries, as they are my favorite berry. I’ve tried numerous times to order and get actual boysenberry fruits in the store I work at and they seem to not be able to get any in due to lack of ‘popularity’, as if they ever tried to sell any. This article was very informative as the only thing I seem to be able to keep alive most of the time is wild strawberries and cactus. Maybe now I can see what I was doing wrong.

  16. Barbara Phillips  Says:

    Do you cut down the male vine that grows from the boysenberry vine?

  17. Rosalie Knorr  Says:

    A friend from work gave me a small 6″ branch from her boysenberry bush 30 years ago. I stuck it in a container and it grew like a weed. I don’t take very good care of the bush and just recently started to feed it in the spring. The berries are enormous and so good. I live about 11 miles from Knott’s Berry Farm and grew up on their berry pies and it’s now my all time favorite…..Thanks for the very useful information and will try to do better in taking care of my small berry patch…

  18. Mark Mudge  Says:

    Ihave a raised bed for boisenberries, that have spread to the adjacent water drainage from my front yard. I have used the new style tomatoe cages, the flat foldable type, and the vines grow well. I have not pruned out the old vines and got small berries amid berries from new vines. Just made four batches of jelly today.

  19. Phyllis Veith  Says:

    Thank you for all the useful information.I have too many plants now so if anyone reading this from near Melbourne ,Australia I would love to give some to you.Happy Gardening, Phyllis

  20. Mark  Says:

    I live in southern california. At what point do I cut back my berry vine for the winter?

  21. Michael  Says:

    Thanks for your knowledges, somebody sold me Boysenberry seeds from Australia. Thought that to be a quick answer to my growing desires of this berry. I’ve grown up, here, in So Cal. And always wanted to grow. I know they are a hybrid fruit but I could never find saplings. Maybe I can get something from these seeds, up from down under. Funny, I can, almost, see the amusement park rides from my own backyard (KBF). Anybody, please pass me your words of wisdom. Sincerely

  22. bill  Says:

    i have 2 thornless in a raised bed. i get about 2 handfuls of berries a day when producing. live in Folsom, Ca,
    i was going to prune them but after reading this i think i will let them be.
    no thorns = no worries.

  23. Diana  Says:

    I bought my boysenberry plants from Cherry Valley nursery inn Southern Cal. Theirs are thornless! Then I actually saw a couple pots at Lowes, but they turned out to have thorns despite the label. That did not not make me happy! I moved last spring, so I’m getting my yard ready to go buy more. Now is the time for barefoot in SoCal!

  24. ferris  Says:

    Hi dear
    my boysenberry has produced hundreds of flowers but the flowers are not fruiting at all,they just dry up and die,would you please give me some tips as to why and how I could help my plant?
    thank you .

  25. Dena Wood  Says:

    I have a large thicket of boysenberries and can glean a various number of starting plants in the fall. Let me know your interest.

  26. chris  Says:

    I’ve had vines for 7 or 8 years now. Still producing. I live about 1 mile from the ocean in So. California. If it freezes, the entire plant dies back, but sprouts like mad in spring and produces a fair amount of berries. Funny thing though is that no animals will risk the thorns. I’ve watched a large bluejay sit in a tree and eye the fruit for 5-10 minutes before flying away. You could just see that guy trying to figure out how to get his fill.

  27. Steve  Says:

    I just ordered 100 boysenberry plants from Tennessee Nursery Wholesale for less than 120.00 including shipping, handling and taxes. I called she said they are disease resistant, but at the time she wasn’t sure if they were thornless.
    For that price if they do have thorns, I can deal with that. I’ve heard that the thornless type eventually develop thorns anyway.

  28. Sharon DeLong  Says:

    My mother grew boysenberries with loganberries for many years outside of Marysville, WA. She would combine them to make jam. THE BEST JAM EVER! I now live in the Lewis/Clark valley (border of WA and ID) where it gets very hot in the summer. I tried for years to grow loganberries, actually got quite a few but it’s too much trouble. It is a lot of work and much too hot here for them.
    The boysenberry starts were found about 7 years ago through word-of-mouth and I dug up about 4 starts and brought them home. I have since had hundreds of starts and have tried to give them away, but very few people are interested in growing them. I get lots and they tolerate the heat much better.
    Winters can be very cold for short periods, but I’ve never had a problem getting berries because of it. My vines lay on the ground during the winter and do fine.
    For those of you who get flowers and no fruit, do you see bees all over them when in bloom? The person who said the bees love them is right. I took pictures of them in bloom because there are hundreds of bees. They also need full sun. If they are in the shade in cooler climates, it’s likely you won’t get fruit.
    I know I’m late commenting but I just love my boysenberries and make lots jam and freeze 6-cup packages of them to make 10″ pies in the winter.

  29. tony  Says:

    I am trying a boysenberry plant in UK. I had some fruit last year not many but they were very bitter. Why would this? Any help appreciated.

  30. Diane Londo  Says:

    What kind of fertilizer do I use and when?

  31. Jane Stilwell  Says:

    Dena Wood, yes I am interested in some cuttings, 903-521-7581, Tnx, Jane

  32. Ron Crouch Sr  Says:

    I live in northern Calif, I am in my 3 rd year with thornless boysenberry. My thornless berries is trying to turn into berries with thorns. Calif. has been in a drought, we had 3 days of frost last year, and only 5 this year. The temp has only gotten down to 30 degrees, the plants has not lost all of thier leaves from last fall. Here it is beginning of February and our highs is in the high 60s. Where the thorns are showing up on the canes that is red. How do I keep my thornless berries thornless.

  33. Lori  Says:

    With newly planted root stock sometimes the vine will die back but the roots will produce new vines in the spring and summer. New vines can be strung or left on the ground until fall. In the fall strip all leaves from the new canes and cut to the ground all trellis vines that have produced fruit. Stripping the leaves gets rid of any insect eggs and larvae that will be pests to you next spring. The easiest way to strip leaves is from the tip back towards the plant. This also allows for easier stringing onto your trellis. New leaves will grow in the spring. Always allow new vines to run below and away from your trellis vines. Cut new canes to no longer than 5 feet to maintain healthy plants. Water base of plant only when soil is dry. Use very diluted soap/water solution for insects. Bug patrol is good to avoid problems.

  34. scott  Says:

    Hi, and thanks for your response.

    Should I shade my plants while the canes are bearing fruit? There appears to be some sun damage in some areas. I have a shade “sheet” that cuts approximately 50% of the sun. Full sun in morning and evening with 50% sun in afternoon when sun is overhead.
    Thanks, Scott

  35. Fred  Says:

    Does anybody know how long these things take to sprout leaves?

    I bought mine from Willis orchars and they looked like sticks. I planted them a couple weeks ago and they still look like sticks.

    Are they dead?

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