A blackberry is a tart, edible fruit produced by a blackberry cane (Rubus species). Blackberry are found worldwide and many species have been selected or crossed and developed into desirable varieties. There are two types, floricane producers that produce fruit the second year of the cane (most common), and primocane producers that produce fruit the first year of the cane.
CHOOSING A VARIETY
Blackberries can have two different growth habits, thick stemmed canes that are quite upright, and thinner stemmed canes that are trailing. While all can be managed at about 6 ‘ tall, some need more space on the trellis than others, from 4-7’ depending on variety and management system.
Most Blackberries are self-fertile, so do not require a different variety as a pollenizer to produce fruit. One exception is Cascade Trailing native to the Pacific Northwest. We do not sell male Cascade Trailing, but Cascade variety, Thornless Loganberry, and Wild Treasure will pollenize Cascade Trailing.
The pollenizers should be planted no further than pollen carrying bees will fly, with no line of sight obstruction, to ensure proper cross-pollination. That distance varies with different bees, 100’ should be a good average distance.
Fruit ripen summer to early fall depending on variety.
USDA HARDINESS ZONE
Blackberry hardiness varies by variety, ranging from USDA zones 4-9. Please see individual variety descriptions This rating tells you the minimum winter temperature the plants typically survive when properly hardened off. We do not have a good rating system at this time for summer patterns (long, short, hot, cool, humid, dry…), but if known, individual descriptions will indicate if a particular plant tolerates (or requires) hot or cool, long or short summers. On our web site you will find a USDA Hardiness Maps (select Growers Information at the bottom of the page) which provides information on the average minimum winter temperature in your location, by zip code.
Many plants native to locations that have cold winters have a Chill Hour requirement to ensure uniform waking up of flower and leaf buds in the spring. The chill hour requirement of plants varies by species, by cultivar, and sometimes by the level of dormancy achieved.
WHERE TO PLANT YOUR TREE
Blackberry need to be planted where they receive at least 8 hours of direct sunlight measured in early summer (late June to early August). Sufficient sun exposure triggers the initiation of new flower buds for the next growing season, without which there will be no fruit. Fruit ripening and flavor development are also benefited by the carbohydrate production stimulated by the sun, as well as it’s heat.
Blackberry tolerate a wide variety of soils so long as they are well drained and moderately rich with a pH around 6.3-6.8. Improve your soil where you intend to plant by mixing an inch or two of plant based organic matter (manures are best for vegetable gardens), peat, or coconut coir into an area 1 1/2 to 2 times the diameter of the needed planting hole and up to a foot deep. A 2-4” deep layer of mulch (straw, leaves, or wood chips) applied after planting will continue to improve the soil.
Allow sufficient space for both the top of the tree and it’s roots when selecting the planting location. Refer to size descriptions for each variety, keeping in mind these are generally managed or pruned sizes, not maximum potential sizes. If you are planting an orchard be sure to include enough space between rows for transporting supplies in and fruit out.