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How to Cultivate Blackberries in Kentucky

By Jennifer Loucks ; Updated September 21, 2017
Ripening blackberries
blackberries image by L. Shat from Fotolia.com

Blackberries are a fruiting bramble that is native to North and South America and areas in Europe and Asia. Kentucky has a climate with warm summers and winters that do not generally drop below -10 degrees F, making it a desirable location to grow blackberries. Blackberry plants grow best in a well-draining soil that did not previously grow potatoes, tomatoes or peppers as they produce a fungus that is lethal to blackberries.

Choose a planting area for the blackberries that has a well-draining soil and full sunlight. Work 2 to 3 inches of organic compost or peat moss into the soil with a tiller to a depth of 10 inches.

Test the soil pH to verify it is 5.0 to 7.0. Work ground rock sulfur into the soil to lower the pH number or limestone to raise the pH number. Water the soil well and let it rest for a minimum of two weeks before planting.

Dig a hole that is 2 to 3 inches deep and wide enough to fit the root structure. Place the blackberry cane into the hole and gently spread the roots out. Fill the hole with water and pack the soil around the cane to hold in place. Space the canes 2 feet apart and space the rows 4 feet apart.

Water the canes generously after planting to soak the soil to a depth of 6 inches. Continue to water the canes with 1 inch of water each week during the growing period. Additional water may be required during the hot summer months or during periods of dry weather to keep the soil moist.

Place a 4-inch layer of organic mulch around the canes to increase moisture retention and decrease weed growth in the planting area. Spread pine bark mulch or seed-free straw around the plants in a 2-to 3-foot diameter.

Fertilize the blackberry canes after the first year of growth with a 10-20-10 fertilizer when the plants begin to produce blossoms. Fertilizer is not needed the first year of growth.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Organic compost
  • Tiller
  • Soil pH test
  • Ground rock sulfur
  • Limestone
  • Water
  • Mulch
  • 10-20-10 fertilizer

About the Author

 

Jennifer Loucks has been writing since 1998. She previously worked as a technical writer for a software development company, creating software documentation, help documents and training curriculum. She now writes hobby-based articles on cooking, gardening, sewing and running. Loucks also trains for full marathons, half-marathons and shorter distance running. She holds a Bachelor of Science in animal science and business from University of Wisconsin-River Falls.