how to grow blackberries: enjoy sweet, delicious blackberries from your backyard

Learn how to grow blackberries. They are easy to grow in the home garden.

Blackberries are a popular, native fruit of Asia, Europe and the Americas. They are grown commercially in the United States. The largest production is from Oregon.

We can grow blackberries in our own backyards. They are very productive and the plants live for years.


how to grow blackberries

Blackberry plants are perennials that live from 15 to 40 years.

Blackberries grow long, flexible canes, 10 to 12 feet long.

The fruiting canes are biennial. They produce fruit the second year.

After the fruit is produced the cane dies.

But don't worry, the plant grows new canes grow each year. 

So, growing blackberries takes patience.

When you know how to grow blackberries, you will have a steady harvest of delicious fruit, year after year.

How to grow blackberries
Image by nonatickler from Pixabay

what makes happy blackberries?

Blackberries grow throughout the United States in zones 4 to 10.

  • They need full sun for good fruiting.

They will produce fruit in the shade, but not as much.

  • They like a deep soil with good drainage.

If your soil does not drain well, then grow them in raised beds to improve the drainage.

  • They need plenty of water, especially during the growing season.

After they are established they are more tolerant of drought, but plenty of water increases the fruit production.


there are two types of blackberries

  • The rambling, trailing type are sometimes are called dew berries. They are native to the west coast of the United States.

The berries are a little smaller than the erect type, but they are quite tasty. They produce two weeks earlier than the erect type.

If the trailing type of blackberry is left unattended, they will produce a thorny thicket. They need to be grown on a two wire trellis, similar to raspberries.

  • The upright type of blackberries are popular in the mid-west and eastern states. They are more cold tolerant.

The upright types have stiff canes and they may be grown free-standing. Generally however, they are grown on a trellis for a little support.

  • Blackberries may be grown in containers. Dwarf, thornless varieties do not require staking. They are excellent for containers.

SELECTING YOUR BLACKBERRIES

It's a good idea to check with your local nurseries or extension service for recommendations on how to grow blackberries for your area.

  • Upright varieties; Bailey, Darrow, Kiowa, Navaho, Shawnee, Cheyenne, Ouachita, Arapaho and Apache
  • Trailing types; Boysenberry, Loganberry, Evergreen, Himalaya and Cascade that has the classic wild blackberry flavor
  • Containers; Baby Cakes is thornless and grows 3 to 4 feet tall

Evergreen and Thornless Evergreen are the semi-erect types grown commercially.

More blackberry information


PLANTING

Blackberries are planted in the spring from dormant plants. If your new plants look dried out, soak them in water an hour or two before you plant them.

  • Choose a sunny, well-drained location for growing your blackberries.
  • The best way to grow blackberries is to mix plenty of organic matter into the soil. Do this before you dig the planting holes, even the fall before would be good.

Plant the blackberries 3 to 5 feet apart in the rows eight feet apart.

The trailing type needs at least 10 feet between the rows.

  • Plant the new plants an inch deeper than they were at the nursery.
  • Firm the soil around your new plants and water thoroughly.
  • Cut the new plant back to 6 inches above the ground.

 Don't worry blackberries are fast growers.

How to grow blackberries a delicious fruit in your home garden.Ready for harvest
Image by pixel2013 from Pixabay

HOW TO CARE FOR BLACKBERRIES

Keep your blackberries well-watered.

Fertilize them twice times a year with a 10-10-10 fertilizer, in the spring before the growth starts and again in early summer.

Keep the weeds pulled out and pull all the suckers from between the rows.

Let your new blackberries grow the first year.


PRUNING YOUR BLACKBERRIES

Since blackberries canes are biennial, only train the one year old canes up on the trellis.

TRAILING BLACKBERRIES - Choose 12 to 14 strong, healthy canes for the trellis. Prune these back at 8 feet. They will grow laterals (side branches) that will produce the fruit the next year. This is the best way how to grow blackberries.

Next spring, before the canes leaf out, cut the laterals back to 1 foot. Small branches will grow from these laterals and produce fruit during the summer.

Each year, let the new canes that grow during the summer ramble on the ground under the trellis. Train them up the next spring.

  • Each following spring, cut to the ground all the canes that fruited the previous year.
  • Train the new, one year old canes onto the trellis and cut them back to 8 feet.

A TRELLIS FOR BLACKBERRIES

There are many systems of trellising your blackberries.

A trellis keeps the berries up off of the ground. This is the best way to grow blackberries. Trellising produces more fruit. Plus the fruit stays clean and is easier to harvest.

A four wire trellis provides plenty of air circulation and helps to prevent diseases.

  1. Place a strong, sturdy post at the end of each row. If you have a long row, place a post every 15 to 20 feet.

  2. Attach two 2x4s, 24 to 36 inches long, horizontally on each post to make a double tee. Place them at 2 1/2 feet and 4 1/2 or 5 feet above the ground.

  3. Insert an eye-bolt, 3 inches from the ends of each 2x4. String a wire (12 or 14 gauge) from each eye bolt to the eye bolts at the other end of the row.

Train up the berry canes between the two rows of wire.

You will have easy access to your berries at harvest time. They will produce more berries, than when the canes are lying on the ground.


ERECT BLACKBERRIES - They actually don't need a trellis, but it keeps them more orderly. They are easier to handle and harvest the fruit.

After the first year of growth, the next spring choose 4 to 8 canes to train on the trellis.

Tie them to the trellis and head them back to 2 1/2 feet to force the laterals to grow and produce your keto friendly fruit.

During the early summer top the canes to 3 or 4 feet to force more laterals.

Top them when it's not going to rain for a few days. The pruning cuts need time to heal over to prevent fungus from entering the cut wound.

  • Blackberries are very productive. They will give you an abundance of fresh fruit for the table, plus extra for freezing and canning.

It's a joy knowing how to grow blackberries!

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