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Growing Wild Blackberries

blackberries image by Alison Bowden from

Like blueberries and cranberries, blackberries are native to North America. Native Americans as well as early settlers picked wild blackberries as a diet staple. Blackberries are a plant that grows well without any help. Because of this, the plant can be found growing wild along fence rows and in ditches along the side of the road. Unlike thornless blackberries, wild blackberries are covered in thorns that make handling them difficult. Once established, wild blackberry bushes will grow well without much care.

Pull on a pair of gloves, as well as protective clothing, when working with wild blackberry bushes. The wild canes contain sharp thorns that can cause injury.

Sharpen a pair of pruning shears before taking blackberry cuttings to avoid crushing the cuttings. Soak a cloth in bleach. Swipe the blades of the shears in between each cutting to avoid spreading disease.

Select a blackberry cane that is healthy and disease free, with evidence of producing superior fruit from years past.

Time your cutting for early in the day when the canes are plump with water. Snip off the last 6 inches of a blackberry cane.

Strip away all berries or flower buds from your blackberry cane, as well as all leaves on the lowest two-thirds of the cane.

Fill a 4-inch container with peat moss. Water until the peat moss is as wet as a wrung out sponge.

Dip the cut end of the blackberry cane in rooting hormone. Insert the cane two-thirds of the way into the peat moss. Place a gallon freezer bag over the cutting and the pot, and put it in a sunny windowsill. The cane will take root within two to four weeks.

Select a location for your blackberry cane that is in full sun and well-drained soil. Purchase a pH testing kit from a garden center and test the soil. Blackberries prefer soil that has a pH between 5 and 7.

Break up the soil to a depth of 8 inches with a rototiller to completely eliminate weeds that could compete with your blackberry canes. Spread soil amendments over the soil to a depth of 3 inches. Soil amendments for blackberries include finished compost and fertilizer (5-10-5) at a rate of 1 lb. per 100 square feet. Add sulfur to lower the pH of your soil, or lime to raise the pH. Mix these amendments into the soil with the rototiller.

Dig a planting hole for your blackberry cane that is twice as wide as the cane’s rootball, but no deeper. Rinse off the roots to remove the peat moss. Spread the roots throughout the planting hole. Cover with soil, and water to remove any air pockets. Space multiple blackberry canes at least 4 feet apart in rows up to 10 feet apart.

Mulch with pine needles. As pine needles break down, they will add acid to the soil.


Never plant blackberries in the same location as you have previously planted tomatoes, potatoes or fruit trees. Doing so can cause the blackberries to suffer from disease.

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