How To Grow Blackberries

Ripe Blackberries On A Garden Vine
Ripe Blackberries On A Garden Vine

Blackberry season is one of the highlights of summer. The blackberries’ fruit can be eaten freshly picked or baked into pies, cakes, and crumbles or made into jams. Blackberry plants are perennial and quite easy to grow once Blackberries are established.  Having blackberries growing in your yard will brighten up the summer days and bring lots of beneficial bees, bugs, and butterflies into your garden.

Blackberry Plant Description

  • The blackberry plant is a bramble and grows long vines, also called canes, with thorns. Blackberry will grow wild and untamed if blackberries are not pruned back every year. Blackberries vines become loaded with fruit in the middle of the summer.
  • Blackberries are classified into three categories according to how Blackberry grow: erect, semi-erect, and trailing. The erect varieties stand tall and don’t need support to keep it upright. Erect blackberry varieties have prolific thorns and are the hardiest of the blackberry types. The semi-erect varieties can have few thorns or be thorn-less, and these Blackberries usually produce more fruit than the erect variety. Blackberry often need minimal support. Trailing blackberry varieties need support, which are the least hardy.

Growing Blackberries

Location

  • The blackberries’ plants need a designated location in full sun and well-drained soil. It is important not to plant them anyplace where potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, or eggplants have been planted in the previous four years. A disease common to all of them can hide out in the soil and get passed on to the blackberries.

Planting

  • Transplants, called canes, should only be bought from reputable garden supply stores to reduce the possibilities of disease. Most canes are one-year-old, and the variety should be chosen with the climate of your area in mind. Many varieties don’t fare well in cold or harsh climates.
  • Arranging the canes along a fence or wall makes them easier to maintain and reduce the chances of them sprawling and becoming unmanageable. Planting in a circular patch is also common. Keep in mind how far you will need to reach to access the berries. You should be able to access the middle of the patch with an arm’s reach otherwise you will miss a lot of berries. Once the bramble has matured, it is difficult and prickly to reach over the vines and thorns.
  • Plant blackberry canes in individual holes. The crown of the cane needs to be 1-2 inches above the ground. Plant the canes 2-3 feet apart in rows that are 6-8 feet apart. Blackberry will benefit from mulching with wood chips or pine needles to keep weeds at bay.

Care and Maintenance

  • Blackberry plants should be watered every week with 1-2 inches. Each spring, Blackberries need to be cut back to encourage new growth and keep them from getting out of control. Erect varieties should be pruned to 3′ the first year, and then the lateral branches pruned to 12”. Trailing varieties need to be thinned to 6-12 canes per foot of row and trained onto a trellis.
  • Fertilizer should be applied every spring to provide essential minerals and facilitate healthy growth.

Harvesting

  • Blackberries do not separate from the core when Blackberries are ripe as raspberries do. The fruit should be pulled gently off the bush and tasted for ripeness. The berries will ripen and need to be harvested throughout the 3-4 week season.

Related References