How To Grow Blackberry Bushes
Blackberry cultivars (varieties) widely vary between the U.S.D.A.’s agricultural hardiness zones. It is imperative that you choose a variety that not only is rated for your zone, but one that will produce the quality of blackberries that you desire. Berries Unlimited offers a wide variety of blackberry cultivar varieties for U.S.D.A. agriculture hardiness zones 3 thru 10. If you are unsure of your hardiness zone, or just need help choosing which of the many fine varieties available to you, our staff will be more than happy to assist you in making the right choice.
There are two main types of blackberries-erect, and trailing (dew berries). Although there are Thorny and Thorn-less and Hybrid. In this case we are just talking about the two main types. When properly pruned the erect varieties don't usually need to be trellised, but trailing varieties must be trellised. Construct a trellis of posts spaced 10 to 15 feet apart, with wires attached at 3- and 5-foot heights. The plants are then attached to these wires with soft string.
Set blackberry plants at the same depth as they were grown at the nursery. Space erect varieties 3 to 5 feet apart in a row, and trailing types 6 feet apart. Allow 10 to 12 feet between rows for working and picking. You can use hardwood mulch or rice hulls. Please, DO NOT use Pine shavings (we ship with) or any other acidic mulch. And always leave 1 foot Mulch free spot around plant base. The lateral shoots should also be tipped back to a length of 18 to 20 inches. Suckers which develop between the rows should be pulled up, not cut out. Cutting off a sucker does not delay its re -growth much. After removing the fruited canes at harvest time, thin the other plants so that there is only one plant for every 10 inches in a row. Please, send e-mail for more information about pruning and trellising.
One of the most important advances in the blackberry industry was the development of thorn-less varieties, which need to be trellised. New shoots are tied to the wires with soft string as they grow. Pruning is fairly simple since you keep only 4 to 8 canes per plant. All weak canes and suckers are removed.
Most gardeners don't leave blackberries on the vine long enough to develop properly. When harvested too early the berries are sour. Ripe fruit lose their shiny color and start to turn a dull black. As with raspberries, fruit should be picked in the morning in a sunny day for better quality and more sugar content.