Blackberries in the Home Garden

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Blackberries are just one of many fruits that can be easily produced in the home garden or landscape. One blackberry plant can easily supply 10-15 pounds of fruit over a 3-4 week period. Studies have shown that blackberries can help fight cancer, decrease cardiovascular disease and slow down brain aging.

Blackberries on the vine

There are three types of blackberry varieties: erect, semi-trailing and trailing. There are also thorny and thornless blackberry plants. Each type of these varieties perform well in all regions of North Carolina except where temperatures drop below 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Blackberries require a well-drained soil, full sun and plenty of room to grow. Before planting you will need to do a soil sample to determine your soil’s lime and nutrient requirements. The soil samples can be submitted at your local Cooperative Extension Office. If your soil is not well drained you will need to establish your planting on a raised bed.

Erect and semi-trailing blackberry plants should be planted about 3-4 feet apart, while the trailing types need 6-8 feet between plants. They can be planted in the early spring several weeks before the last frost. When planting make sure you do not plant any deeper than the top of the root ball. If planting bare-rooted plants do not plant any deeper than they were grown in the nursery. After planting wait 3-4 weeks before fertilizing with a complete fertilizer (10-10-10) at the rate of 5 pounds per 100 linear feet. With established plantings, apply the fertilizer in March before the plant starts to produce flowers and fruit.

Erect and semi-trailing types perform well using a two-wire system with wires at 3 and 5 feet from the ground. Once the canes have reached the top wire, remove the tips to encourage branching. Trailing types can use the same type trellis, but do not tip the canes. Instead, allow them to grow to the top wire and then weave them back down to the bottom wire and back up to the top wire.

As soon as all the fruit is harvested, prune out all the old fruiting canes and continue to tie, tip and train the new canes until the winter months. During the winter, prune laterals on erect types to 12-16 inches, and leave only 6-8 canes per square yard. With timely pruning and the removal of old canes disease pressure and other common pests will be minimized.

Erect thornless blackberry varieties: Arapaho, Natchez, Apache, Navaho, and Quachita. Semi-trailing thornless varieties: Hull and Chester. Trailing thornless varieties: Triple Crown.

For more information about blackberries, or if you have other gardening questions, feel free to contact the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Franklin County Center at 919-496-3344, or visit our website.