A productive, cultivated blackberry patch without the thorns is possible when you grow 'Apache' blackberries (Rubus 'Apache'). This thornless blackberry cultivar grows 4 to 10 feet tall and is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 9. 'Apache' blackberries fruit in summer. This cultivar, developed by the University of Arkansas, produces abundantly.
Sun, Spacing and Soil Requirements
'Apache' blackberries grow best in full sun. To see how much sun a bed is getting, observe it throughout a sunny day. Full sun means the spot gets six hours or more of direct sunlight per day. Grow this blackberry cultivar in a spot that drains well, ideally with loamy or sandy loam soil. Avoid any garden areas that have standing water after a rain. Space this cultivar 5 feet apart in rows 5 feet apart if you are growing multiple shrubs.
Water once a week with 1 to 2 inches of water from early spring when new growth starts until the vines start to produce fruit . Once berries start to form, increase watering to 4 inches per week until the end of the harvest. To tell if you are watering sufficiently, dig a small hole near the blackberry bed and feel the soil. It should be damp 6 inches deep. It is important not to let the soil dry out 6 inches deep when growing blackberries.
Fertilize 'Apache' blackberries once during the growing season, either in late spring or early summer. Scatter 1/4 to 1/2 pounds of balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer on the soil around each plant. Gently scratch the fertilizer into the soil surface. Water as soon as you finish applying the fertilizer with 1 to 2 inches of water.
When ripe, 'Apache' blackberries have a deep, glossy purple black color. The large berries turn juicy and plump. Pluck the berries from the vine as they ripen and gently place them in a bucket or basket. Eat them fresh, make them into preserves and freeze the extras.