How to Grow Blackberries
Blackberries are never far away so you might wonder why you would consider growing blackberries in your own garden? While the wild blackberry can be an unruly & rampant plant, you can now buy more ‘garden friendly’ varieties of blackberries that can be grown to trail over pergolas or be kept in check in a designated ‘fruit growing area'.
Pruning is straight forward once you know how and it is essential for keeping the canes in check & producing the largest volume of fruits possible. Below, see our guide on how to prune and train your blackberries as well as how to plant & care for the plants.
Pruning Blackberry Plants
After year one, you can prune your blackberries in Winter. Leaving the central cane in place, prune back all side shoots to within 5cm of the central cane. These side shoots will bear most of your fruit in the second year.
In the second year, cut back any one year old stems to ground level. New shoots that sprouted in year 2 should have all their side shoots cut back to within 5cm of the central cane.
When to Grow Blackberries
Blackberry Canes can be planted from November to mid-March. The planting season for blackberries begins in mid-November when the dormant season is in full swing. This is the best time to purchase and sow blackberry plants.
You can train your blackberries when you prune them. To train, place 4 sturdy bamboo canes around central stems. Once you have pruned back all side shoots from these main stems, you can pull them all together with the cane supports by tying a string around the top of the canes create a tepee style support.
Where to Grow Blackberries
Happy in partial shade or a sunny location that is sheltered. Choose a spot that is protected from frost & wind. Blackberries are happy in a partially shaded spot but if necessary you should assemble a wind breaker. They like fertile soil that has good water retention.
If your soil is sandy or free-draining you can add lots of farm yard manure or organic matter to increase the moisture content of the soil. Because these are vigorous growers they are not suited to containers and should have good spacing between plants.
How to Plant Blackberries
Fertile, well draining soil. Space 200cm apart. When planting bare root plants, it is important that you treat them with great care for best results. Ensure root system remains damp at all times. Ideally soak the roots in water for ten minutes before planting. When planting, don’t plant too deep or too shallow – make sure that roots are just below ground level.
At time of planting you should mix 70 grams of general fertiliser through the soil. Feed again in early Spring with a potassium based fertiliser.
After cutting back the one year old canes in Autumn, you can mulch up around the base of the remaining canes.Regular watering is important. Make sure young plants are kept moist in their first year and if conditions are particularly dry in the Summer months, you should water the plants once, twice or three times a week. General maintenance includes keeping plants free of weeds and weeding around the canes every few weeks.