Necessary Growing Conditions
Growers ideally provide a garden area with full sun, although some shade is tolerated by most blackberry plants. Blackberry plants will have most success growing in soil that has been thoroughly prepared. Gardeners prepare the gardening area by pulling out any weeds from the soil. If the natural soil in the area holds too much water, the area is supplemented with a few bags of well-draining soil. Commercial blackberry growers test the pH of their soil to ensure perfect growing conditions; blackberries grow best in soil that has a pH between 5.5 and 7.
Blackberry bushes can be either erect or trailing. Erect blackberry bushes are self-supporting and grow off the ground, while trailing bushes grow lower to the ground and do not support themselves. Erect blackberry bushes grow better in cold climates than trailing bushes because they are able to grow higher up, and thus further away from the ground.
Commercial blackberry growers propagate their plants from existing plants growing on the land, while casual growers may purchase blackberry plants at a local nursery. Blackberries are not usually planted from seed, because a plant that is grown from a seed will not ensure healthy growth or regular fruit production. Blackberries are planted four to ten feet apart in spring. Growers plant blackberries deep enough in the soil to prevent bending or damaging the roots of the developing plant. The area is then watered thoroughly to allow the soil to settle.
Growth and Care
Commercially grown blackberries are trellised as they grow to provide adequate support. Although it is possible to grow erect blackberry plants without trellises, keeping the plants as far off the ground as possible will prevent disease and frost from damaging the blackberry plants. Commercial growers fertilize blackberry plants in early spring of each year and remove weeds from the growing area regularly. Blackberry plants need one inch of water per week during the summer to prevent drought. Blackberry growers pick mature berries every few days. Casual growers, however, can pick blackberries at their leisure, about once a week or as often as desired.