Growing Blackberries

Growing Blackberries

Today I'll be showering you with the knowledge I have pertaining to growing your own organic blackberries. Who wants to pay the ever-increasing prices for those darned things, when you can have literally hundreds, if not thousands of blackberries every year for the low cost of... maintaining your blackberry bush(es)! Seriously though, I'll be covering everything you need to know from soil and fertilizer to how much sun your blackberries should have, but first... we need to decide what kind of blackberries you want.

What kind, you ask? Yes, what kind. I'll bet you thought there was only one, huh? Those black ones? Well, as far as I know, yes (with the exception of one which can be red), they only come in black. It's a little more complicated than that though. You have different varieties for different areas they grow. For example, the "Chester" variety is exceptionally cold tolerant, so it would be good for the Montana area or anywhere that ends up having those cold winters. Other varieties, such as "Brazos" are resistant to disease. Some of the more classic ones that you may be fimilar with are: Boysenberries, Loganberries, and Olallieberries. They just so happen to be in the blackberry family.

I personally like the ones that I have in my backyard. There has been some dispute over the variety it may be though. Either way, the type of variety for this one is the prize. It's a thornless type, which is a mild lie because if you look closely it does have thorns here and there. However, they are very small and signifigantly fewer than regular versions. If you were to get a type like this, I'll tell you now that the plant will most likely want to revert back to it's old ways and be thornier then you'd ever believe. Take this into consideration and be prepared to remove the thorny sprouts before they become a larger problem.

That's the thing about blackberries, they're rebels. They want to go where they want and do what they please. In other words, they act like a weed. How? They spread from underground with rootlike extensions called runners. It's probably best if you plant the blackberry in a very large pot and put them on a trellis, as opposed to planting it in the ground... unless you really like blackberries (I know I do). If you give this plant half a chance it'll spread like wildfire in no time, so it's important that you keep it under control.

Okay, now that we've got all the fun stuff covered, time to get down to business. First, I'll tell you about all the stuff needed for planting blackberries in the ground, then I'll tell you about the minor changes for when you plant them in pots.

The first thing you need to consider is the kind of soil you're going use for your blackberries. Generally, blackberry plants aren't too tempermental, so the important thing is that the soil drains well. In other words, when you water your blackberry plant, it shouldn't be standing in water for half the day. Another wonderful thing that would be great for the plant is if you were to have organic material in the soil. Organic material is fully decomposed plant matter and should already be in the soil in some quantity. It's often sold as humus in large bags. If your soil doesn't look rich and near black in color, you can ammend the soil by folding some hummus into it. The blackberries (and any plants nearby) will thank you. Blackberries enjoy full sun and can tolerate some shade as well, but remember, the more sun, the more berries... as long as they don't cook, such as in the desert anyway.

If you're planting your blackberry plant in a pot then a general organic potting soil would work well as long as your pot has an irrigation hole in the bottom of it to let water out. Another side note... when you water any plant in a pot, be sure to water it until water is draining from the hole(s) in the bottom. This will keep your plant healthy and happy, making sure that all of the plant's roots in the entire pot get water. There is another reason for it, but I won't go into detail describing it in this article. Remember, this becomes a large plant, a large pot would be prefered for it. Something along the 15 gallon range at the very least.

I believe this is a good time to tell you that when you plant any plant you need to be careful not to leave any major airspace between the plant and the soil. Large pockets of air will dry out the roots and ultimately cripple, if not kill, the plant. I know it seems like a silly mistake, but it happens more often then you'd think.

As far as a good organic fertilizer is concerned, there is a wide selection on the market, but my favorite of all time is most definitely bat guano. It's really packed with a lot of nutrients and is one of the best organic fertilizers on the market. It can be difficult to find, so you may have to order it online. Most good garden stores should have it in stock. It works wonderfully and I highly recommend it from my own personal experience. How much should you use? Well, you can use quite a bit and it won't harm your plant and the benefits will be astounding. Just keep in mind that there is such a thing as overdoing it. Normally, you want to mix in some of the bat guano or other organic fertilizer you've decided to use in the local soil. You can also put some of the fertilizer in the bottom of the hole itself. If you're going to add the fertilizer later also, I recommend working a generous layer of it into the soil around the base of the plant and watering it in.

It'll probably be a good year or so until your blackberries start blooming and producing a signifigant amount of fruit. The berries only grow on canes that are 2 years old. This is important to note because that means you should probably prune back the ones that have already bloomed. The fresh ones that didn't bloom should be left alone, as they'll most likely bloom next year. Every winter, or when the plant has gone dormant is a prime time to prune. How can you tell when your plant is dorment? When the blackberry plant drops all of it's leaves, it has gone dormant.

There isn't any more to it really than that. A couple of sites that might help you if you want to look into blackberries further and with more extensive detail would be at Oregon State University, I know it's a bizarre reference, but it's there and it's very informitave. Another resource would be on Ehow. With that, everyone should be able to enjoy many blackberries for years to come. If anyone has any questions concerning this article, please leave me a comment or contact me in some way.

Comments 34 comments

Ash 8 years ago

Thanks for the info! When I move from this house maybe I'll be able to plant blackberries at the new place. ^^

Knowledge Sponge 8 years ago from Oceanside, California Author

I'm glad this ad helped you out, Ash. I hope to write many more articles as helpful and informative as this one.

Myrleen Fisher 7 years ago

My vines are 4 years old and acting puny for 2 years after a terrific crop 3 years ago. I needed advice on improving growing conditions. This site addresses PLANTING issues, not much on GROWING, despite the title. I followed the original planting suggestions when they were planted. The only worthwhile tip was bat guano. I'll try it. I have lots of bats and their guano available. Thanks.

PS I don't know what a URL is. 7 years ago

If using many plants can you put in one pot..also what should you do when winter comes....move it into a garage or just leave it outside??

Nikki 7 years ago

I planted blackberry canes (bare root) about 1 month ago. How long does it take to see it start growing? I am seeing nothing that looks like growth yet. I planted blueberry plants at the same time, and I already have leaves and flowers.

Ricky  7 years ago

how do you dig up and move a 3 yr. old BB bush?

CWYdena profile image

CWYdena 7 years ago from Ohio

I have a blackberry bush that has been growing on my family's land for about 30 years and it's as big as a house. I find that if i keep it well mowed around it, it doesn't spread as much as it normally would. Also, I try to keep the vines from trailing the ground. They'll grow back into the soil if they're left on the ground and begin to create another root system, thus spreading further.

The Green Man 7 years ago

First of all Rick moving a whole bb bush that old will be hard, I would say trim it down and take a single cane, or more if you want a few bushes.

Nikki if you haven't seen any growth in a month its probally dead or just not going to make it. It obviously doesn't like its home so you need to find a new one or improve the one it has now.

If your using pots you should only have 1 plant per pot, no matter how big the pot is The reason for this is that if one plant gets a diease or a bug problem the other plant will get it to. More then likely though one will just take over and kill off the weak one by taking all the nutes and water. Only 1 plant per pot please. Yes you can move them into the garage if you want and keep growing them, provided its warm enough and you get some lights. Leaving them outside is fine as they will grow back next year, cover the soil with mulch to help protect them from the frost.

Myrleen Fisher your bush probally has a diease if it had a good crop and now you aren't getting anything respectable. Unless of course the conditions it has been growing in has changed. Theres not a lot you can do if its dieased except let it keep growing and see what happens.

bex 7 years ago

We have a property in Stanthorpe Australia (recent purchase) it has neighbor cows on it and we have just built a structure we arrived at the place due to stay for a week and found that blackberries were chest hight and over the majority of the place LIKE EVREY WHERE we have tried to dig them out but there is too much of it what do we do. i don't know what verity of BB it is but it is a nasty one the type that punters tyers and rips peaces off your legs and arms

william brown 6 years ago

can I use a 10 10 10 frtilizer?

TedArk 6 years ago

I have just purchased two BB bushes and two raspberry bushes. How much distance should be between them? Also, my soil is a bit alkaline, so should I add an acidifier such as Greenol, Mir-Acid, or Acid-Grow?

One more thing -- can I plant them now (February 6 in northern Arkansas) or should I wait until after the last frost? Should I store them inside in the meantime?

natetheflyingbanana 6 years ago

do you have to use organic fertilizer or can you use 8 8 8 cause on another URL it said you could

Carol 6 years ago

I live in North Texas and have a two year old blackberry bush that is doing great. It is late May and I'm already enjoying the berries. This is my first attempt at blackberries so I was wondering about the shoots that are coming up around it. Are they going to bear fruit next year? Also, am I supposed to cut back the existing vines that are bearing blackberries? Can I transplant the shoots? If so, how is it done?

Steve 6 years ago

I planted a blackberry bush a few years ago, and although it is branching out and starting to take over the yard, it has not produced one berry yet. It gets full sun. Any thoughts why no berries?

marcie smith 6 years ago

How many seeds to put in a pot?

crystolite profile image

crystolite 5 years ago from Houston TX

Useful article that is well shared.

Patty 5 years ago

Good info, Sponge. Does the soil need to be acidic, like for blueberries, or can it take just regular compost/fertilizer?

Thank you.

newby 5 years ago

Hi and thanks for your info. I have a question.... how do you remember which canes fruited(for pruning purposes) in the fall when all the leaves have dropped? Are they bigger, woodier necessarily?

tiggercopie36 5 years ago

i just purchased a thornless blackberry from lowes and how do i know if it need to be pollinated with another blackberry bush? it doesnt say on the tag..

but on my blueberry plant it does tell you if you need a pollinator.. help..

tiggercopie36 5 years ago

i just purchased a thornless blackberry from lowes and how do i know if it need to be pollinated with another blackberry bush? it doesn't say on the tag..

but on my blueberry plant it does tell you if you need a pollinator.. help..

Gilbert Cooke 5 years ago

You actually make it seem so easy together with your presentation but I find this matter to be really one thing that I believe I might never understand. It seems too complex and very large for me. I'm taking a look forward to your subsequent submit, I'll attempt to get the grasp of it!

LAke 5 years ago

Awesome. Mine sprouted

sam 4 years ago

is their any type of black berry that can grow in montana

hanover college 4 years ago

You need a spell checker!

Melissa Jones 4 years ago

Can anyone tell me whether or not blueberry bushes and blackberry bushes will cross-polinate? I have two plants (each of the same variety) and am trying to figure out how to best configure them in my north Texas raised garden. Thank you! :)

Betty 4 years ago

I have California Blackberries in my yard and even when they seem to die off in a bad season or two they come back. You just can't kill them things. We trim the old branches off every year, feed them fish emulsion during the winter and water when they need it. It is dry here so we have to pay attention to the watering. Sometimes we will water them with 2 tbs vinegar to 1 gallon of water to help make our high alkaline soil a bit more acidic. some years we get gallons and gallons of them, other years we hardly get any and some years we let the birds have them.

Zoe Walkers 4 years ago

this is stupid very stupid they don't know what there talking about

terry 4 years ago

my tame blackberry bushs are now 4 years old . I really have not gotten any berries yet .I started out with 10 bare root plants of different varities, last fall I cut all the plants back, and this year I must have about 80+ plants sprouting up . I have also moved at least two dozen plants to other location as well . if they ever decide to produce berries I'll be happy. I have fertilized them with 10 10 10 . I planted a few bushes alongside of the garage, maybe it's the heat from the buildind, but these bushes grow the best . I live in northern pa

nelson 4 years ago

Would anyone recommend putting ash in the soil ?

Bob 4 years ago

I bought 2 blackberry plants about 2 years ago and discovered one of then was thorn-less. last year the one with thorns didn't produce but the thorn-less produced a large wonderful fruit. this year about 200 small pea sized fruits are on the one with thorn. and the thorn-less about 100 large fruit. the only thing I did for these plants this year is put grass clippings around them and water. why is my thorn plant have only small fruits the size of peas?

bugs free 4 years ago

I was just wondering, once you harvest your blackberries, how do you make sure there are no worms inside? We had that problem last year. Where we would wash our fruit and tiny worms would come out.

spy 4 years ago

Will blackberries produce ok in north florida? I am interested in having a upick farm in this area

Gloria Liuzzo 16 months ago

I uprooted a bush three years ago from another property. Last year it came back and I got about 25-30 blackberry's or black raspberries. I pruned it back last fall really good and this year it came back with a vengeance. It has tons and I mean tons of blackberries all on the top of the bush (and inside and bottom) which is great, but now that the flowers are forming into fruit they are kind of small. I really hope they don't stay small, last years were a very nice size. Should I add some Miracid to the plant to see if the fruit gets bigger? Actually what is the time frame from when the flower drops off to harvest time? Do I just wait and see if they get bigger?

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