How to Grow & Prune Blackberries


Growing blackberries at home is a wonderful way to have ready access to fresh fruit. They can be eaten straight off the bush, cooked in pastries and deserts, or canned into preserves and jams for enjoyment through the winter. Blackberries need additional soil preparation before they're planted to ensure appropriate pH levels and fertility. To get the best fruit production from them and to keep your blackberry patch pleasant to pick berries from, prune the bushes each year.

Step 1

Select a planting location that gets at least six hours of sun each day, well-drained soil and has access to regular water through rainfall of irrigation.

Step 2

Prepare the soil by mixing in organic materials, mature compost and any additives needed to achieve a pH level of 5.6 to 6.2. Preparing the soil initially can take one to two years.

Step 3

Till the soil to break up any large clumps of dirt. Add mature compost or chemical fertilizers several days before planting. Apply enough of these materials to deliver 2 lbs. each of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium per 1,000 square feet.

Step 4

Create small mounds about 4 feet apart. Plant the blackberry bushes no deeper than they were in their nursery pots. Water as needed to ensure that the roots do not dry out before or during the planting process.

Step 5

Place a sturdy post upright in the mound next to the plant. Tie the canes gently to the post.

Step 6

Cover the newly planted mounds with 3 to 4 inches of hay, straw or leaf mulch to retard weeds and retain moisture.

Step 7

Water at least 1 to 2 inches each week to ensure the best growth and fruiting.

Step 8

Trim the new growth branches back to 4 feet in late June or July, using sharp hand pruners to make clean cuts. New fruit will grow on these canes the next year.

Step 9

Prune off the spent canes in subsequent years in addition to new growth canes. Cut spent canes cleanly close to the main center cane using sharp pruning shears, loppers or small branch cutters.

Tips and Warnings

  • Temperatures below 5 degrees F can injure or kill blackberry bushes. Protect the bushes with thick mulch or covering if temperatures drop that low in your area.

Things You'll Need

  • Organic matter
  • Mulch
  • Posts
  • Twine
  • Pruning shears
  • Lopers
  • Branch trimmers


  • University of Maine: Growing Raspberries and Blackberries
  • Ohio State University: Pruning Erect Blackberries in the Home Garden
Keywords: growing blackberry bushes, pruning blackberry bushes, growing pruning blackberries

About this Author

Kathy Burns-Millyard has been a Web designer, developer, Internet consultant, photographer and prolific professional writer since 1997. Specializing in business, technology, environmental and health topics, her work has appeared in "Wireless Week" magazine, "Entrepreneur" magazine, "Computer User" magazine, and in hundreds of publications around the Web.