The blackberry plant is a fruit producing bramble that is native to Europe, Asia and North and South America. Blackberries grow well in Ohio because they are hardy in areas where the summer temperatures are hot and will tolerate winter temperatures to minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit. The plants are biennial as berry production occurs only on 2-year-old canes. Blackberries are easy to grow in home gardens when proper care and water are given during summer growing season.
Select a blackberry planting location that offers a well-draining soil that has a pH of 5.0 to 7.0. Amend the soil by working 2 to 3 inches of organic compost into the planting area. Test the soil pH and add ground rock sulfur to raise the pH number or limestone to lower the pH number two weeks prior to planting.
Plant the blackberry canes in a hole that is 2 to 3 inches deep and wide enough to fit the root structure. Set the roots into the hole so they are spread out. Gently cover the roots with soil and pack in place. Space blackberry canes 2 feet apart in rows that are 4 to 8 feet apart.
Water the blackberry plants with deep soakings of water so the soil is moistened to a depth of 6 to 10 inches. Provide 1 inch of water for each plant on a weekly basis during the fruiting period. Do not allow the soil to dry out completely or cause standing water around the canes.
Apply 3 to 4 inches of organic mulch around the blackberry plants to limit weed growth and assist with moisture retention. Seed-free straw or pine bark mulch works well for blackberry canes. Mulch around the canes will protect the roots during the Ohio winter season.
Fertilize the blackberry plants after the first year of growth. Apply 5 lbs. of 10-20-10 fertilizer for every 100 feet of row at blooming and repeat the application after the fruit is harvested.
Prune blackberry canes in early spring to remove dead and damaged canes. Remove 3 inches off the end of all new cane growth in the summer to promote lateral branch growth. Prune established blackberry plants by removing 2-year-old canes after the fruit is harvested.