Blackberries are nature’s candy. You can find them on the side of the road or in a ditch and the only factor stopping you from devouring all of them is those pesky thorns. The good news is that you can actually plant thornless blackberries right in your own backyard; read on to learn how!
Planting blackberries is actually a pretty simple process. Blackberries come in the form of canes, essentially roots with a thin stem sticking out.
When to plant blackberries? Plant these canes in your garden, in a fertile spot with plenty of sun. While blackberry canes only bear fruit every other year, the plant will continuously produce new canes so there will always be plenty of berries available. Make sure your plants get plenty of water, especially during the peak of a hot summer.
Blackberries are ready when they are fully black and can easily be picked from their stem. Place them in the fridge and be sure to enjoy them right away as within a few days they will start to perish. If you’re not sure how best to eat them, you can always freeze them or, better yet, make some tasty jam.
Planting Blackberries in Different Climates
A tropical climate will not support blackberries. These plants need a dormant period, during the winter, and a tropical climate is not able to produce this.
Blackberries do not do well in a dry climate. The soil needs to be moist and well fertilized, and while blackberries need a lot of sun, they also need a lot of moisture to grow.
Blackberries love a temperate climate. Not only are the summers warm enough but there is enough rain to sustain them.
You will often find blackberries growing wild in this region. However, it’s important not to mix wild blackberries with cultivated varieties. If this happens, diseases can be transferred and your plants will either become weakened or even die.
A continental climate is usually able to support blackberries. The key here is they need to be watered more frequently.
Pay attention to the leaves of your blackberry bushes. If they are drooping, you need to add more water.
Unfortunately, blackberries will not grow in a polar climate.
Choosing Blackberries Seeds
While most fruits and vegetables have many different types of seeds, blackberries keep it nice and simple. There are three basic types of blackberries you can choose from.
Erect thorny blackberries are your typical variety. They have thorns and they grow upwards on their own.
Erect thornless blackberries will also grow upward on their own but thankfully, they do not have any thorns.
Finally, trailing thornless blackberries do not have thorns but they also don’t have the means to support themselves. Instead, you will need to provide a trellis for them to grow on.
How to Plant Blackberries Seeds
Even though blackberries do have seeds on them, it’s far easier to plant blackberry canes. These are similar to raspberry canes and give you a much needed head-start on your growing.
Blackberry canes enter a dormant period in the winter and it is best to plant them when they are still in this stage, which is usually in the spring.
Alternately, you could try to plant blackberry canes in the fall. However, if it becomes too cold too quickly, your precious blackberry canes could die off.
You probably want a nice patch of blackberries. However, this fruit will spread on its own so you don’t actually need to plant too many canes. Furthermore, the plant is self-fertile, meaning you don’t need multiple plants for cross pollination.
Blackberries love full sun. Be sure to pick an area that will get plenty of sun and won’t be blocked by bushy trees.
Soil with good drainage and a high level of fertileness is key. You can prepare the area ahead of time by adding organic content such as compost to the area.
When you dig a hole for your blackberries, you want each cane to be about 4 to 5 feet apart. This will give the roots plenty of room and allow more canes to grow each year.
As for depth, don’t plant too deep. Instead, dig the hole as deep as the cane was in the pot it came in from the nursery.
How to Water Blackberries
Although blackberries love the sun, they also need plenty of water. For those that live in hot climates, you will want to water your plants every day.
Once you plant your canes, make sure they receive plenty of water, but also make sure the soil is able to drain properly.
If it is a very hot summer, make sure your blackberry leaves aren’t drooping as this is a sign of not enough water. Don’t be afraid to water them extra at the height of summer.
How to Grow Blackberries
The great aspect of blackberries is that they are a perennial plant. Once you plant them, they will come back every spring.
However, the cane part of the blackberry, that grows above the ground, is actually biennial. This means that one year the canes will produce fruit while the next year they will just have leaves.
Don’t panic, though. There will be plenty of cane offshoots so you will always have tons of berries to pick each year.
In the spring, be sure to give your blackberry patch some love. Add fertilizer to ensure there are enough nutrients in the soil.
Furthermore, you can add a layer of fresh mulch each year. Not only will this keep weeds at bay but it will keep the soil moister.
If you opt for the trellis trailing blackberries, you will have to construct a support frame for them. Create a system of wires that are 4 to 5 feet high. Then, as the blackberries grow, they will be able to wrap around this wire and support themselves.
How long do blackberries take to grow?
After you plant your blackberry canes, you can expect your first crop of berries in 1 to 2 years. While the first year will only yield a few berries, as more canes pop up, you can expect to have many more berries.
Blackberries are ripe starting in July, usually later in the month. Depending on the variety, they may still bear fruit in August.
How to prune blackberries?
While it isn’t too difficult to prune blackberry bushes, there is some important information to be aware of. In essence, you want to remove the old canes after they have produced fruit and provide space for new canes to grow.
Those that have erect blackberries will have short canes that stick straight up. After you harvest your berries, in mid-summer, you can then prune the canes.
Remove a few inches of the canes at this time in order to promote more lateral growth. Aim for a total height of 4 feet.
Then, in winter, once the blackberry canes become dormant, you can remove any old canes, cutting them down to the soil.
As for trailing blackberries, wait until the canes have died back on their own. This way, nutrients are passed into the root system, which creates more robust fruit the following year.
How to harvest blackberries?
A bowl of plump blackberries is a real summer delicacy. There are a few pointers to get the best fruit possible.
While it may be tempting to get out there and start picking, it’s important to wait until the blackberries are fully ripe. They will be all black in color with a plump look to them.
If you’re not sure if your blackberries are ready, slowly and gently pull on the berry. When they are ready, they will come off easily. If not, don’t force the berry, and instead, try again the next day.
While picking blackberries, keep the central plug inside of the berry. This will allow the berry to last longer.
Be sure to pick your blackberries every few days once they show signs of being ripe.
Finally, pick your blackberries either in the morning or the evening. If you pick them during the hotter parts of the day, they won’t have enough moisture in them.
After you have picked your bowl of blackberries, think quickly about how you will consume them. Unfortunately, blackberries have a shelf life of just a few days.
Place them in your fridge as soon as possible. If you won’t be eating them right away, you can freeze them, can them, or use them in jam.
To freeze blackberries, first wash and dry them. Place them loosely on a baking sheet and place the whole tray in the freezer so each berry is frozen individually.
Then, transfer your berries to an airtight container and place them in the freezer.
Most of us have memories of delicately picking blackberries, trying hard not to let the thorns ruin the event, or wishing we were so much taller to reach those top branches.
Now, we can simply plant blackberries in our garden and there is even a thornless variety to choose from.