Blackberry bushes offer large sweet berries all summer. As an added bonus, there are thorn-less varieties so you and your family can pick fresh berries for a fresh snack without any pricked fingers. Growing blackberries has been heavily studied, luckily it’s down to a science now! Follow these simple steps for blackberry success.
When scouting out a location for your blackberry bushes avoid low sitting areas of your yard that collect a lot of standing water or that’s prone to flooding. Also, keep in mind the amount of sunlight that area gets a day. Blackberries prefer full sun, but can tolerate partial shade. For the most berry success make sure that your bushes get at least six hours of sunlight a day. For a hedge plant your blackberries about three feet apart.
Once you have the location for your bushes selected dig a hole three times wider than the pot, but just as deep. Take a pitch fork or shovel and run it along the sides of the hole to loosen the soil. Then remove any dirt clumps, rocks, or grass from the hole. When it’s clear of debris place your blackberry bush in the hole and make sure that it’s level with the ground and back fill the hole. Once you’ve finished this process give your bush a long drink of water.
Keep the soil moist, but not over saturated. Blackberries need about an inch of water of week, and more during times of drought. Check on your soil once a week, if it’s starting to dry out then it’s time to give your bush more water. Due to the shallow rooted nature of these plants, they shouldn’t dry out down to six inches below the surface of the soil. However, be careful not to over water your plants. It’s important not to over saturate the soil.
Blackberry Bushes don’t need regular fertilizing, unless you know that your lawn is lacking in nutrients. Also, fertilizing your bushes can increase growth and fruit production. You’ll know when your Blackberry bush needs fertilizing because its leaves will show some signs of discoloration. It’s best to fertilize early in the spring before new growth starts to emerge, and again after your berry harvest. Use a well-balanced general all-purpose fertilizer like formula 10-10-10.
Pruning will help increase your blackberry crop, and keep your bushes healthy. After a year of growth in the early spring take a sterile pair of sharp hand pruners and remove the tips of each woody blackberry cane. If they’re shorter than 24 inches long only remove the tip back to about an inch. This will cause the bush to branch out wider and produce more berries.
After your berry harvest it’s time to clean your Blackberry Bushes up. Blackberries will only produce on canes that are two years old, meaning once the cane has produced berries it won’t produce more. Prune spent canes back to promote the growth of new ones.
The best method of removing weeds and suckers from around your blackberry bushes is to get a firm grasp on them and pull them upwards out of the ground in a twisting motion. Placing a 3 inch thick layer of mulch around your bushes to prevent weeds from growing. Mulch will also help the soil retain moisture.
Pests and Diseases:
Some of the most common pests for Blackberry shrubs include spider mites and birds. To rid of bugs like mites or worms spray your bush with an all-natural organic pesticide. Birds can be trickier to get rid of. Place fake owls or snakes around the bushes to scare them, or cover your bushes with bird nets.
Common diseases for Blackberries include different types of mold and fungi. These can be prevented by removing dead or damaged branches. Doing so will prevent chances for infections and the spread of infections. If you see any spotted leaves, or branches remove them. Molds and fungi can be treated with the use of organic fungicides.
Most Blackberry varieties are self-pollinating. However, having two or more shrubs will greatly help with pollination, and you’ll have a lot more berries to harvest. With multiple shrubs more pollen is transferred from bloom to bloom by natural pollinators like the wind and bees.