Pacific Northwest Blackberry Plant Varieties
Blackberries are endemic to the Pacific Northwest. Whether invasive, introduced varieties that choke out native plants or cultivated blackberries, the plants do exceptionally well in the cool, Pacific Northwest climate. Blackberries do best in full sun, but can tolerate partial shade. They generally don't produce well in full shade. Blackberries need soil that drains well and don't tolerate constantly wet soils. Canes grow for a year, and produce fruit the second year. After fruiting, the canes die and are replaced by new growth.
The Himalayan blackberry bush is not, contrary to its name, native to the Himalayas. It is a native of western Europe. According to the University of Georgia's Invasive.org, this variety was introduced to North America as a cultivated crop in 1885. By 1945, it had adapted to the west coast and had begun spread through natural means. It thrives in areas that get over 29 inches of rain per year and can grow well up to 6,000 feet. Individual Himalayan blackberry canes can reach nearly 10 feet. In the Pacific Northwest, Himalayan blackberries are invasive and have been declared a noxious weed. They grow in very large, nearly impenetrable thickets that choke out native plant species. They are common in rural areas and along many roads, even in urban areas. Although illegal to cultivate, the fruit from these thickets is sweet and very high quality.
Marionberries are a form of trailing blackberry that grows well in the Pacific Northwest. Marionberry bushes are thorny and very vigorous growers in the high rain climate of the Pacific Northwest. Marionberries are large, bright black, and very firm. The fruit is very flavorful. Marionberry canes are fewer canes that are longer than many other blackberry varieties. Not highly invasive, marionberry bushes are good choices for home cultivation. Marionberries are a trailing blackberry. This means that their canes tend to droop down toward the ground with less stiffness and strength than upright blackberries. Marion berries are suitable for trellising. Trailing blackberries do best with a two-wire trellis.
Cherokee blackberries are an erect, bushy cultivar that grows well in the Pacific Northwest. A vigorous, very thorny bush, the Cherokee produces medium-size blackberries with a thick skin. The fruit is less flavorful, but sturdier than other cultivars. These berries are glossy black and round with a lumpier appearance than some other cultivars. Cherokee are a good variety for trellising. Erect blackberries do well with a single-wire trellis. When growing Cherokee blackberries on a trellis, plant the berry plants about 3 feet apart.