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How to Care for Blackberry Bushes

Blackberry plants are highly valued for their nutritional value and health benefits. This Gardenerdy article provides some tips for growing blackberry bushes.
Gardenerdy Staff
Blackberry bushes belong to the genus Rubus in the rose family Rosaceae. This genus contains several species of blackberry, and the most common among them are Rubus fruticosus and Rubus argutus. The history of these plants has been traced to some of the ancient cultures and civilizations. It is said that the fruits were used by the ancient Romans and Greeks for medicinal as well as culinary purposes. Blackberry bushes are mostly found as wild plants, but in some regions, they are cultivated. Some people grow these plants at home, for the nutritious fruits, that can be raw or in cooked form. Blackberries are used for preparing jams, jellies, and pies.

Blackberry Bush Care

Blackberry plants grow in almost all conditions, except extreme cold weather. Decide the type of blackberry bush you want to grow. It can either be the trailing types or erect ones. It can be thorny or no-thorn varieties. Once you decide the type, get the plant from a reputed nursery. It is always better to get those plants that are grown in containers.

The best time to plant blackberry bushes is spring. Choose a location with full sun and well-drained fertile soil, for growing these plants. Avoid locations with sandy soil or clay. It is better to avoid planting them in places, where eggplants or tomatoes were grown previously. This is because the pests and diseases that affect those plants may affect the blackberry plants too.

The optimum soil pH for these plants is 5.5 to 7. Till the soil, and add compost and other manure, after removing weeds, rocks, and debris. The most important thing about the location is that it must accommodate the plant as it grows. Plant the bush, and water it thoroughly. During the first year, the plant will produce flowers, but no fruits. During the second year, feed the plant, and remove the weeds, during spring. Water the plant once a week. As the fruits get ripe, harvest them, every week. An average blackberry plant may produce fruits for around 15 to 20 years.

One of the important aspects of blackberry bush care is regular pruning, which is usually done in mid summer, after the fruit bearing season. Remove the branches that had borne fruits. Even the new growths in the neighboring areas can be removed, to control its spread. However, make sure to take enough precaution, while pruning blackberry bushes, as the thorns may hurt you.

In short, growing blackberry is not a difficult task, if you know the right methods. The above said is only a brief overview about growing blackberry. You may contact the local nursery authorities or a horticulturist for more details.

Physical Features of Blackberry Bushes

Different species of blackberry are found in almost all parts of the world, except the Arctic and the Antarctic regions. While some of them are bushy, some others have trailing vines. Most of the species have thorns, but some of the newly developed cultivars lack thorns. The flowers of blackberry plants are white or pink, with five petals. These flowers emerge during late spring or early summer, and they transform to black, berry-like fruits. The fruits are produced during the second year of planting.

Blackberries are actually aggregate fruits, and not true berries. These fruits are said to be highly nutritious, and is ranked as one of the richest sources of antioxidants. However, blackberry bushes are invasive, and can spread uncontrollably, if not managed well. The stems that arch down to the ground, produce roots and spread rapidly to the neighboring areas. So, they are often found to cover large areas in the wild as well as waste land.
Close-up of Blackberry Bloom
Close up pruning of brambles with secateurs
Watering bush blackberry
Handful of Rich Brown Soil
Growing blackberries