What is Blackberry?
The blackberry (Rubus hybrid) has many different varieties that include thorn and thornless. All coming from the family Roseaceae they are native from a variety of different places around the world such as Europe and the Americas. Depending on the variety, they will fruit through the warmer months of November to April before going dormant over Winter. Blackberries are usually sold as bare rooted plants and can usually be picked up during these dormant times (Winter). Its important that you have prepared the bed before planting. Blackberries prefer a full sun to part shade space to grow and produce fruit. In full shade they wont fruit. Liking a rich well drained soil dig through compost before planting. Protect the berry canes from extreme heat and heavy winds. Frost doesn’t effect them. Make sure, like any fruiting tree or vine, that they get adequate amounts of water. Blackberries have fibrous roots, and thinner canes than raspberries. Young plants tend to produce a lot of canes which need thinning out. But as they mature, remove the last year’s stems and maintain young canes. Canes need the support of a growing structure like a trellis or growing wire. Tie the canes against the trellis and cut off excess growth. Pick fruit when fully ripe for maximum sweetness. The plants are self-fertile, so you only need to start with one. They grown in areas with a cool winter provided they have the right growing conditions. Growing companions are raspberry and marigold.
Benefits of Growing Blackberry
The main benefit has to be the fruit! Blackberries are absolutely delicious and can be eaten raw or in desserts like pies. The fruit contain vitamins A, C and K and minerals such as potassium, magnesium and copper. Blackberries also contain dietary fibre.
The blackberry flowers attract lots of bees and other pollinators into your garden. It will also attract birds, not just the ones that want to eat your berries, but the ones like wrens that will help eat other pest insects.
Choosing a thornless variety of blackberry will make picking, pruning and tying back a lot easier and safer.
How to Grow Blackberry
Cool, temperate, arid.
Height: 1.5-2m, Width: 2-4m
When To Plant Blackberry
Plant in Winter to early Spring.
Likes a rich, well drained soil. Prior to planting dig through well broken down animal manure, blood and bone or complete fertiliser into the soil.
How To Plant Blackberry
Plant in full sun, 1m apart with the plant crown at soil level. Make sure you have something to tie the stems to like a trellis or wire construct as the blackberry canes need support.
Blackberry Plant Care
For optimum fruit production blackberry canes need to be kept well watered. They will benefit from mulching in Spring to conserve moisture in Summer and keep roots cool.
As growth starts in Spring apply a complete fertiliser and a compost of well broken down animal manure.
Birds will be your main problem during fruiting time so you can place a net over your canes to prevent birds eating your berries.
During Winter or when fruiting has finished remove the old canes. Note: Blackberries fruit on second year wood so you are removing canes that have already fruited.
Some variety of blackberry will send out runners or “suckers”. This is just the plant trying to expand. Remove any suckers that the plant is sending out. You can either replant the sucker for a new plant or get rid of it.