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Blackberries are delicious, nutrient-rich, and relatively easy to grow—making them perfect additions to your home garden or landscape. Even though they bear thorns, the canes are attractive with lush green foliage, white blushing, and charming white flowers.
Most varieties get relatively large, so be sure you have room for them before planting. There are two distinct types of blackberries: trailing and erect. Trailing blackberry (also called dewberry) is grown mainly in the South. This type needs to be supported by a trellis, fence, or arbor to keep it up and off the ground. Erect blackberry is a hardy, stiff-caned plant that may or may not need support depending upon the variety. You can also find blackberry varieties with and without thorns.
Because blackberry is a big, vigorous plant, it’s well-suited to grow in a patch by itself. This is especially true for trailing blackberry varieties with stems that reach 10 feet long or more and need support. Thorny blackberry can serve as a fence or physical barrier when grown around the edges of a property line. Avoid planting it near driveways or walkways, however. If you don’t have the right place to plant blackberry in the ground, consider growing it in a large container to control its vigorous growth.
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Plant blackberry in a spot that has full sun (at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sun per day) to keep your plants healthy and productive. While blackberry will grow in partial or full shade, it will be more susceptible to disease and produce fewer and lower quality fruits than when it's grown in the sun.
Blackberry isn't particularly fussy about soil type. But like most fruits and vegetables, it does best in moist, well-drained soil that's rich in organic matter. If your ground has a high clay content, amend liberally with organic matter at planting time to help give your blackberry the best possible start.
Prune blackberry in two waves to keep it productive. The first wave, which happens in spring, is called tip pruning because you simply cut off the top couple of inches of new growth. This encourages your blackberry plants to produce more side branches—which means more fruit. The second wave of pruning happens in late summer. Remove any stems that produced fruit; those stems won't produce fruit the following year. Removing these spent stems will keep your blackberry patch from getting overgrown and can help reduce incidence of disease.
New Blackberry Features
Plant breeders are working hard to create new blackberry varieties that are more compact, disease resistant, or hardy.