Blackberries are among the easiest fruits to grow at home, and their attractive berries are a welcome midsummer treat.
About This Plant
Blackberries are classified botanically as Rubus, a genus that also includes raspberries. Blackberries may be called dewberries in some areas. Boysenberries, marionberries, or loganberries are not separate species, just common names for different blackberry varieties.
You may be tempted to start your blackberry patch with plants from a neighbor, but don’t accept donated plants unless you’re sure your neighbor’s patch is healthy. Viruses are a widespread problem with blackberries. If in doubt, purchase new, virus-free plants.
Plan a training system to match the growth habit of your variety — either upright or trailing.
Choose a well-drained site in full sun at least 300 feet from any wild blackberries. Construct trellises for trailing varieties before planting.
Plant in early spring in most areas; in mild-winter areas of the south and Pacific Coast, plant in fall or winter. Space upright varieties at 3-foot intervals in rows 8 feet apart. Set trailing varieties 5 to 8 feet apart in rows 6 to 10 feet apart. Set plants 1 inch deeper than they were grown in the nursery.
Cultivate shallowly; the roots are near the surface. Mulch with a thick layer of shredded bark, wood chips, leaves, or hay. Plants usually don’t require pruning the first year. Prune out fruiting canes as soon as berries are harvested each summer, and select replacement canes for the following year. To prevent chilling injury in the winter, lay the canes of trailing types on the ground in winter and cover with a thick layer of mulch. Blackberries are subject to a number of different disease and insect pests, depending on region. Contact your cooperative extension office for information on managing pests in your area.