How to Plant & Care for a Blackberry Bush

Overview

Blackberries make a popular summer fruit pie. You'll find yourself making a lot of them, plus jam, cobblers and perhaps smoothies or milkshakes when your bushes start producing this succulent fruit in large quantities. Blackberries are easy to grow because they are not particular about soil. As long as they have a sunny spot in which to grow and receive adequate water during their growing season, you should have good success growing blackberries in almost every climate zone.

Planting and Caring for Blackberries

Step 1

Buy a bare root blackberry plant at your nursery to ensure that you will not be growing an invasive type, called the Himalayan blackberry (Rubus discolor). See Tips for suggestions of varieties that do well in home gardens.

Step 2

Select an area of your garden that will allow the blackberry to ramble. Weed the area for about 4 feet around your planting area. If you plan to plant multiple blackberry bushes, do the same for each bush, leaving at least 4 feet between your planting areas.

Step 3

Spade in one 2-gallon bucketful of compost for each planting hole and then dig the hole slightly larger than the root ball of your bush. Fill in the hole with the soil/compost you dug out, firm down the soil with your foot, and then water the area well and keep the soil moist throughout the summer growing season.

Step 4

Spread a layer of organic mulch over the planting area to keep the soil moist and help deter weeds. Compost containing leaves and other materials is suitable for this, but make sure you do not allow it to touch the base of your bush.

Step 5

Fertilize with a high nitrogen plant food in early spring, just before your bush starts its active growth. A plant food having an N-P-K ratio of 20-10-10 is a good choice. 1/4 pound of nitrogen plant food is recommended every year.

Step 6

Prune your blackberry severely during winter. Cut all lower branches, or "canes," all the way to the ground, but leave 12 to 15 inches on canes that come out of the main trunk two or more feet above ground level.

Tips and Warnings

  • Always wear sturdy gloves when you work with blackberries because their thorns can give you a nasty puncture wound.

Things You'll Need

  • Purchased blackberry plant(s)
  • Compost or composted manure
  • Shovel
  • Mulch
  • High nitrogen plant food
  • Pruning shears or clippers
  • Leather gloves

References

  • Commercial varieties
  • Essential Garden Guide
  • Native blackberries
Keywords: blackberry planting, vines fruit, berries growing

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hiā€˜iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Barbara wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens," and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to Big Island Weekly, Ke Ola magazine, GardenGuides.com and eHow.com. She earned her B.A. at UCSB and her M.A. from San Jose State University.