by National Gardening Association Editors
- Choose virus-free plants.
- Plan a training system to match the growth habit of your variety - either upright or trailing.
- Plant in early spring in most areas; in mild-winter areas of the South and Pacific Coast, plant in fall or winter.
- Choose a well-drained site in full sun at least 300 feet from any wild blackberries.
Construct trellises for trailing varieties before planting.
- Plant upright varieties at 3-foot intervals in rows 8 feet apart. Set trailing varieties 5 to 8 feet apart in rows 6 to 10 feet apart.
- Set plants 1 inch deeper than they were grown in the nursery.
- Cultivate shallowly; the roots are near the surface.
- Mulch with a thick layer of shredded bark, wood chips, leaves, or hay.
- Plants usually don't require pruning the first year. Prune out fruiting canes as soon as berries are harvested each summer, and select replacement canes for the following year.
- Fertilize early each spring with 1/2 to 3/4 cup of a complete fertilizer such as 5-10-10 or 8-8-8 per plant. Sprinkle it in a band 12 to 24 inches from canes and hoe it lightly into the soil.
- To prevent chilling injury in the winter, lay the canes of trailing types on the ground in winter and cover with a thick layer of mulch.
- See our article Fruit Pests and Diseases for controls of common blackberry pests such as viruses, aphids, mites, and raspberry crown borers.
- Berries should be harvested every 2 to 4 days when ripe.
- Pick berries in the cool of early morning. Refrigerate berries immediately after harvesting.
Photo courtesy of the USDA Agricultural Research Service.
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