A group of deciduous or semi-evergreen scrambling shrubs, with arching prickly or thorny stems. Although the ornamental varieties are mainly grown for their attractive winter stems, there are several forms with pretty flowers and others with brightly coloured leaves. This large genus also includes edible species such as raspberries, loganberries and blackberries.

Family: Rosaceae (rose family)
Botanical Name: Rubus (rub-us)
Common Names: Ornamental Bramble

Foliage: Evergreen or deciduous, simple lobed, palmate or pinnate leaves.

Flowers: Simple 5-petalled flowers, usually followed by colourful berries. Double forms are available.

Flowering Period: May-June.

Soil: Moist but well-drained soil (chalk, sand or loam). Any pH.

Conditions: Full sun or partial shade. Can be grown in a north, south, east or west-facing aspect, in a sheltered or exposed location.

Habit: Thicket forming, arching.

Type: Shrub or small tree.

Origin: North America, Europe, China and Japan.

Hardiness: Hardy in most regions of the UK.

Planting and Growing Rubus

Plant outside in early autumn or spring. Container grown plants can be planted out at any reasonable time of year.

Easy to grow, in full sun or partial shade. Plant in any good, well drained, garden soil. Most varieties form large shrubs that take up a lot of space in the border, so are not suitable for small gardens.

Taking Care of Rubus

Water thoroughly during dry weather until well established. Mulch in spring with leaf mould, well-rotted manure or garden compost.

Pruning Rubus

Pruning depends on the variety grown. For flowering and fruiting types, cut back some older wood in autumn.
For decorative stem types, remove all the old branches in early spring to encourage fresh growth for the coming winter.

Can all be cut down to ground level, if necessary.

Pests and Diseases

Generally pest free. The leaves can be affected by Grey mould.

Propagating Rubus

Can be increased either from softwood cuttings taken in early summer, semi-ripe cuttings in late summer (rooted in a propagator) or by hardwood or root cuttings taken in winter. Established clumps can also be increased by division when dormant, from October to March.

R. ulmifolius (wild blackberry) can be increased by layering in summer.

Popular Varieties of Rubus

Not all species of Rubus produce edible fruits, so check plant information carefully.

Rubus cockburnianus (white-stemmed bramble) a decorative deciduous shrub that produces an attractive tangle of pure white arching stems, up to 10ft long. The mid-green leaves are pale underneath. Purple flowers, are carried on erect canes in June.

Rubus 'Benenden' is a vigorous flowering hybrid, with tall thornless stems bearing large white, saucer-shaped flowers in May. Pale to mid-green leaves. Bears no fruit. Height and spread to 10ft (3m). Available at Thompson & Morgan.

Rubus deliciosus (delicious raspberry, boulder raspberry) is an attractive deciduous shrub with thornless stems. White flowers in May-June. Pale green, deeply lobed leaves. Height to 10ft (3m), spread to 8ft (2.4m).

Rubus odoratus forms a thicket of thornless canes with large green maple-like leaves and fragrant, purple-pink flowers from June through to September. Followed by edible red raspberry fruits. Height and spread to 8ft (2.5m). Available at Thompson & Morgan.

Rubus phoenicolasius (Japanese wineberry) is a deciduous shrub with bristly stems and mid-green leaves, that are white on the underside. Tiny pink flower-clusters in June-July followed by edible scarlet berries in late summer. Height to 8ft (2.4m), spread to 10ft (3m).

Rubus thibetanus is a dense, prickly branched, clump- forming variety with fern-like, green leaves and small, purple flowers in summer. Black, inedible fruits in autumn. Loved by birds. Available at Thompson & Morgan.

Rubus ulmifolius (wild blackberry) is a semi-evergreen shrub with arching, prickly branches. Height to 4ft (120cm), spread to 6ft (2m).