An inability to get fruit from wineberry

I like to explain my successes to my readers. But as you would guess there are some of what would currently be called failures in starting the food forest, some with no success in sight. 

A book I’ve been reading lately covers silent evidence -evidence that is never talked about because it is a failure or evidence buried under the sands of time and unknown. I mention this because perhaps such is the case for wineberry?

Wineberry (Rubus phoenicolasius) fruits on second year canes, this year being the third year my canes have been old enough to fruit but haven’t. The first two years late frost killed the second year canes (very frost sensitive), the later canes for that year coming up strong. 

A dead cane and a live one coming from the same root.
This year frost wasn’t to blame. Leaves grew, buds grew, and I was very excited to finally get fruit. In the heat of summer, after growing some very promising looking buds, they are shriveling up and dying without handing over a single druplet. The first year canes look fine.

The same cane with buds a few months earlier.

They’re even in the really happy guild where I have had success getting fruit from the apple (fruiting again this year) and turnip rooted chervil, among others. From what I’ve read about its culture, this site should be kind to it. It’s an invasive species here in several states, although not in my area (yet). I would prefer to not wait until it intoduces itself as a weed in my area to finally get some fruit.

There is an especially good article here about the wonderful production it maintains in shade. Flavor is supposed to be very good too. I have yet to come across information about it being finicky and never making a solitary fruit.

I have very few theories what the problem could be accept some strange disease which I have yet to find the name of.

I find the canes’ furry red spines rather attractive as a winter and spring interest, and the canes’ premature deaths make more mulch for the guild without my giving any attention to pruning. So why not keep them in hopes some year they will decide they’re ready to fruit? Until then, I thought I’d start the conversation about what seems to be a rare problem.

7 thoughts on “An inability to get fruit from wineberry”

    1. I would be most interested in hearing if any of your readers grow wineberry or are familiar with this problem. Thank you for spreading the word. I’m so glad to hear you enjoy it. The edit you made was rather fitting for your audience I thought. I wondered about taking it out myself but know some of my readers quite enjoy seeing my activities in the context of my experiences rather than isolated as a set of impersonal facts. There is a fine line of education vs. useless filler in that area. I appreciate you appropriately making that distinction.

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  1. Hi there

    I have found wineberry rather fussy, much more so than plain old raspberries or blackberries. Having said that I generally had some fruit from the bush in my former garden and the plant in this newer garden is about to flower, and then hopefully fruit. I have just checked and the main stem it is flowering on is in its’ second year and the flowers are borne on short branches off that stem. I have a picture which I can post on my blog for you to see!

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    1. Thank you so much for posting a picture and all. I reallty appreciate it. Yours looks similar to mine accept it has never had such long second year offshoots. Mine have stayed closer to the parent stem.

      I have heard the canes produce in their second and third year, so I am surprised I can’t even get the second year canes to stay alive past flowering. I am pleased to hear you have had some success with them. I hope they do the same at the new garden.

      I will let you know if and when things change or if I find out any other info.

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  2. Thanks for sharing – as you say, it’s important for us to share our issues/failures as well as our successes! Gardening is as much trial and error as it is anything else. I have all but killed my wineberry this year. It’s in a pot (temporarily) and has been affected by drought and hot weather. I’m hoping to be able to plant it in the ground for next year. Previously though I haven’t found it affected by frost (but yours may be much harsher than mine) and I am intrigued by your problem. Sorry that I can’t offer any help on that.

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    1. I’ve had drought problems this year too. Thankfully my plants are established enough it hasn’t showed on them. I hope yours get to the same point soon.
      Thanks for commenting on the problem even though you haven’t come across it. Hopefully you never do. I will update everyone if it goes away or I figure out a solution. I haven’t found similar symptoms under raspberry disease lists.

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