Growing Blackberries

Blackberries ripening on a vine.
In many areas blackberries grow profusely with no help from us. However, if you are thinking of planting some berry bushes in your garden, then this information can be helpful for providing you with a bumper crop. This is a page about growing blackberries.

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Gold Post Medal for All Time! 858 Posts
May 8, 2006
Blackberries on bush

Planning Tips:

Blackberries grow well in zones 4 to 9. Choose hardy, virus-free plants cultivated to your specific growing zone. Because varieties have different growth habits (upright or trailing), plan ahead to create a training and support system to match the variety you select. Blackberries are self-fertile so you can plant just one cultivar and harvest a crop-usually 10 to 15 pounds of berries per season per mature (2 to 3 year-old) plant.

Site Preparation:

Blackberries need at site that provides full sun and well-drained soil. Ideally the soil should have a slightly acidic pH (about 6.0). Domestic cultivars should be planted at least 300 feet away from their wild counterparts. Erect trellises or other types of supports before planting.


Erect blackberry varieties should be spaced in 3 foot intervals with 8 feet between each row. Trailing types should be spaced 5 to 8 feet apart with 6 to 8 feet between rows. The plants themselves should be planted to a depth about 1 inch greater than they were at the nursery. Apply a thick layer of organic mulch to the base of plants.

Care & Maintenance:

Blackberries may need maintenance pruning after the first season. Pinch off the tips of new canes when they reach 3 feet (or the top of the trellis for trailing types). After harvesting berries, cut fruit bearing canes to the ground. Apply a fertilizer (5-10-10 or 8-8-8) around fruit canes each spring. In the winter, thin canes so that only 4 to 6 remain per row (8 to 10 per plant for trailing varieties) and shorten all side branches to 12 to 18 inches. Canes from trailing types should be laid on the ground in the winter and covered to avoid cold damage.

Harvesting & Storage:

Blackberries ripen according to the variety grown and regional growing conditions, usually starting in mid-summer and continuing on through mid-fall. Collect berries every few days when fully ripe as they will not ripen off the stem. Ripe fruit will feel soft once it is pulled away from the plant. Pick the berries in the morning while it's still cool and remove any rotting berries at the same time to reduce the spread of mold and disease. Blackberries are delicate and should be handled gently to avoid crushing. Store them in a shallow container in the refrigerator immediately after picking. They are very perishable and will stay fresh for only one to two days at normal refrigerator temperatures, but will keep a day or two longer at cooler temperatures (31 to 32F ).
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Gold Post Medal for All Time! 523 Posts
June 12, 2017

I'm doing my best to get fellow members to look into growing berries and dwarf fruit trees in small, sunny spaces about their homes. Eating fruits and berries you have grown has very satisfying rewards. The Europeans are, and have been, way ahead of us in utilizing any free space about the home to grow fruits and vegetables.Blackberries Require Decision Making - hand holding several blackberries


Let's talk blackberries. I bought four $10.00 plants that were marked down to $3.00 each. There are several different types of blackberries. I won't go into the differences, here. I will say that the type I bought bears fruit on the second year's growth.

If you buy such a plant with all new growth, you will not get any berries the first year. This new growth will stay on the plant til next year. Then it will bear berries. While this, now, second year's growth is bearing berries, new growth will arise from the base of the plant. After the berry bearing canes stop producing, they begin to die down and eventually die all together. The new growth will survive the winter and become next year's canes to bear berries.

What should one do with the bearing canes when they begin to die back? You can cut them back to the ground and discard them. But don't be so hasty to do that. Cuttings can be taken from these canes as soon as the berries are harvested. They are easily rooted. You could easily get 10 new plants from these 'dying' canes. (You also can easily root tender new growth, but that's another post).

After your initial purchase, all your plants can be free. A little fertilizer and bird netting will be about your only expenses. Water? Yes. Count that as an expense if you like. Blackberries like lots of water.

With the two varieties I bought being 'erect' rather than 'spreading', the full grown berry bearing plants have a diameter that hardly exceeds that of the 5 gallon buckets they are planted in. These winter hardy plants stay outside over winter and need no protection.

Decision making? Well, in this case, do I make wine with these big bad boys, or do I make a cobbler? Actually, I won't do either. Next year, my plants will be larger, more established and will bear more fruit. For now, I will periodically traipse to the back yard, pick a handful of berries and simply indulge.

I do plan to puree a few and have them over vanilla ice cream. Yes!

Are you convinced, yet?

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August 2, 2011

This is just a warning to those of you who are interested in planting blackberries. Choose your site carefully.


They are terrible to get rid of if you don't want them in a particular place in your yard or garden.

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

July 13, 2018

If I bush hog my tame blackberries down this fall, will they come back next spring?


Gold Post Medal for All Time! 677 Posts
July 13, 20180 found this helpful

Yes, and they will come back thicker.

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Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 196 Feedbacks
July 13, 20180 found this helpful

From my experience, careful pruning can even increase crops....more blackberries! YUM!!!

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Gold Post Medal for All Time! 523 Posts
July 14, 20180 found this helpful

If the plants are healthy, they should come back next year. But don't expect berries the first year after cutting them to the ground.

The first year's canes are called primocanes. They do not bear fruit. The next year, the primocanes become floricanes, they produce flowers, then fruit. Then they die. This is Nature's way of pruning the plant.


If there is a reason to prune the primocanes, I guess it's OK. I would not prune the floricanes. You would be pruning away fruit bearing cane, especially the tips.

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Gold Feedback Medal for All Time! 949 Feedbacks
July 15, 20180 found this helpful

i agree about maybe taking two years to bear fruit after cutting back severely. There is some controversy about this but it seems most agree that it may take two years for berries, so you will need to have a year to get the canes back.

Maybe bush-hog half and prune the other half so you may have berries next year?

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Gold Post Medal for All Time! 523 Posts
July 16, 20180 found this helpful

Maybe I should have consulted my notes on blackberries before posting because I wasn't aware of controversy. Unless I'm mistaken, there are plants that will bear a small crop of fruit on the first year's canes, late in the season.


They are called Primocane bearing. I believe these to be newer hybrids/cultivars and not likely what is talked about here. The last time I read about Primocane bearers, they were still in the experimental stage.

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September 27, 2011

How do I get slips from thornless blackberries?

By Donnie from Boaz, KY


October 10, 20110 found this helpful

In the spring when the blackberry leaves come out, draw the tip of the cane onto the ground and secure it with a chunk of wire that you have cut to resemble a large hairpin. A piece 7 or eight inches long that has been bent double will do quite nicely. Do this for as many slips as you want in the fall. In the fall cut the new canes free of the old ones and dig them up and sure to cover with mulch if it gets really cold where you are.

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Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 205 Posts
September 27, 2011

Can anyone tell me the best way to grow blackberries and raspberries in containers? I have wild blackberries all around my back yard, but the wildlife beats me to them!

My zone is 7b.

By Cricket from NC

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April 1, 2011

This is a blackberry bloom. Taking these pictures are therapy for me.

By Carrie Kirkus

Blackberry Blossom

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Gold Post Medal for All Time! 523 Posts
April 12, 2017
Arapaho Blossom - blackberry flower

Photo Description
It's a cherry!
No. It's a peach!
No. It's an apple.

You're all wrong. It's an Arapaho! It's a blackberry!

This blackberry should be in every home garden. If you have space for a 5 gallon bucket, you have room for this berry. It was developed by the University of Arkansas. It is a thornless variety. Pretty high on the brix (sweetness) scale, and a very good bearer.

This is my first year to grow them. They're in 5 gallon buckets along side my Apache blackberries. They're all loaded with blooms.

Come the 4th of July, I may just have enough berries to try my hand at a cobbler. The least I could do is a blackberry topping for vanilla ice cream.


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February 5, 2018

Optimal sweetness is achieved when the berry is fully ripe. Some berries actually may appear ready to pick when black and shiny, but with some varieties it is when they become less shiny that they are the sweetest. This is a page about picking the ripest blackberries.

Ripe Blackberries

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July 12, 2017

If you decide to grow blackberries be aware that the different varieties have varying levels of sweetness. This is a page about choosing a sweet blackberry plant.

A large blackberry growing on a blackberry plant.

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