Blackberries will grow well in full sun areas in the landscape where other plants might wither. They grow quickly and easily and their fruits are delicious. Depending on the cultivar you choose, you may decide to train the plants up a trellis or opt for hedge growth. It is easy to fulfill the growth requirements for healthy blackberries within the garden, as long as you meet some very basic needs that these plants have.
Propagation and Soil Condition
Choose full sun planting sites. Propagate blackberries with root cuttings taken in fall. Plant them between the middle of winter and early spring. It is possible to also cause canes to take root merely by covering their tips with soil. This step takes place between late summer and early in the fall. Once the cane tips form roots, cut and transplant them as desired in the spring.
Place root cuttings, cane tips or nursery-bought plants into soil with a pH level between 5.5 and 6.5. Blackberries thrive in well-drained soil. Add organic fertilizer in late fall or early winter; the application of inorganic fertilizers must wait until early spring. Do not plant blackberries in soil that recently nourished potatoes, peppers, tomatoes or eggplants because it will lead to a heightened susceptibility to verticillium wilt, a fungal disease.
Water blackberries frequently. Between the middle of May and October, irrigate with about 1 to 2 inches of water per week. Avoid watering only once a week and do not allow the plant's soil to dry out between waterings. Blackberries grow best in moist--not wet--soil. Install drip irrigation to prevent drying out and water daily for one to two hours. Depending on weather conditions, such as heat or wind, watering more frequently becomes necessary.
Trailing blackberries--famous cultivars include the Boysen and Logan--are not very labor-intensive plantings in the landscape. Gardeners do not need to prune newly planted shrubs at all in the year they introduce the flora into the garden; in late fall of the next year, thin out the canes so that only six to 12 of the strongest remain.
Erect-growing cultivars, such as the Black Satin and Darrow, need a bit more care. The summer following the planting, remove the upper 1 to 2 inches of any shrubs topping 3 feet in height. This step sets up the following year's yield of fruit-producing canes. Once dormancy sets in during the cold season, laterally prune the shrub's branches until they are no longer than 12 to 18 inches. Thin out the canes and discard smaller ones so that only about three to four strong ones remain.
Healthy blackberries demand conscientious pest control. The most common pests are red berry mites that affect the growing fruits, spider mites that adversely affect the leaves and therefore plant vigor and crown borer worms that kill off shrub sections from the inside of the limbs. Curtail the infestations with proper irrigation, selective pruning of diseased limbs and the application of miticides.