Blackberries can delight in your own garden with their sweet and juicy fruits. Everything you need to know about blackberries can be found here.
The blackberry ( Rubus fruticosus ) is a long-runner for every garden. Once planted, it is vigorous and productive, sometimes even so much that the blackberry can become a nuisance. With the right tips, however, growing blackberries is an exciting task for every hobby gardener and is rewarded with good harvests. We’ll tell you what is important when planting the blackberry, which tools you need and how you can prevent the blackberry from sprouting.
Blackberry varieties: evergreen, thornless and delicious varieties
Wild blackberries are usually particularly prickly and literally make the harvest of the sweet fruits “doom”. For cultivation in the garden, some thornless varieties can keep up with their prickly relatives in terms of taste without any problems – they are often incorrectly referred to as “thornless” blackberries. Like all other rose plants ( Rosaceae ), however, from a botanical point of view, the blackberry does not have thorns, but spines.
These blackberry varieties are particularly popular
‘Navaho‘: large, shiny fruits with an aromatic taste; thornless and robust variety with strongly upright growing, long tails; pink flowers
‘Black Satin‘: medium to strong upright growing variety; stingless; very productive; shiny black fruits with a moderate taste; somewhat susceptible to frost and disease
‘Loch Ness‘: rods that grow semi-upright; stingless; very large, firm fruits with an aromatic, sweet taste; very productive; prone to disease
‘Asterina‘: robust variety with very large, firm fruits; sweet taste; stingless; medium vigorous
‘Jumbo‘: thornless, very productive variety; vigorous; very large, soft fruits that do not taste particularly good
‘Chester Thornless‘: vigorous, creeping variety with large, good-tasting fruits; stingless; late-ripening and bearing until the first frost; high ornamental value due to the beautiful flowers
‘Baby Cakes‘: special Brazelberry – breeding; look like a small blueberry bush that can be grown in a pot; high ornamental value, but lower yields
‘Black Cascade‘: bushy, slow-growing variety that can be cultivated in a traffic light due to the overhanging shoots; medium-sized, sweet fruits; young rods are prickly, but after pruning the prickling decreases.
The blackberry is a robust shrub that can cope well with less favorable conditions. However, there are a few basic conditions that you should by no means deny your prickly berry. We explain step by step how you can bring your beloved blackberry to peak performance.
Planting blackberries: location
Blackberries are very vigorous, even in poorer locations. The demands on the soil are not particularly high, but you should add some fertilizer or rotted material to the planting hole when planting the blackberries in particularly heavy and humus-poor soils.
Planting blackberries: when and how?
In principle, you cannot name a specific point in time for planting the blackberry, as it is very robust anyway. In addition, the tasty blackberry is now almost exclusively sold with root balls, so that it brings the best conditions for a good start in your own bed. A well-rooted blackberry can be recognized by the fact that the entire root ball can be pulled out of the flower pot without leaving any residue.
However, it is advisable to plant the blackberry in autumn (September / October), as the bushes sprout in early spring. To do this, loosen the soil generously and deeply to offer the fine roots an optimal basis for growth.
Tip: Before planting, you can submerge the entire root ball once underwater – then it soaks up and all fine roots are supplied with water.
After you have planted the blackberry stick, cover the planting hole again and carefully press the soil around the stem. To protect the soil from excessive evaporation, you can cover the bed with a thin layer of bark mulch.
Here is a summary of the most important things about planting blackberries:
- Decide for upright or creeping blackberry
- Dig a large planting hole; Loosen the soil deeply
- Add some compost in difficult locations
- Water the root ball
- Plant and press blackberry; Possibly apply bark mulch to prevent evaporation
- For creeping varieties: stretch a trellis as a climbing aid
We have created detailed instructions for you to grow blackberries here.
Fortunately, propagating the blackberry is relatively easy. When propagating, you should only pay attention to whether it is a climbing or an upright blackberry variety. The best way to propagate variants that grow upright is by root cuttings or runners. Climbing or creeping blackberries can be propagated using root cuttings as well as sinkers and cuttings.
Now and then blackberry plants sprout underground and emerge from the ground some distance away. If necessary, this new plant can be gouged out with the longest possible piece of root and replanted in another place.
- Root cuttings
For this purpose, pieces of root are used that have at least one or two shoot buds. These are placed in a box with moist organic herb and seed compost and covered with soil. Then the nursery box is placed in a light, cool, and well-ventilated place. In the best case, new, small plants sprout from the root pieces over the winter.
For this purpose, annual shoots of the shrub are cut off and divided into pieces with two to three nodes (leaf nodes) each. These are then placed in pots with a loose growing substrate. Under warm and humid conditions, the cuttings develop enough roots in a few weeks to supply themselves with nutrients.
Long shots of the blackberry plant are pressed to the ground, covered with a layer of earth, and weighted down with a stone. The tip of the shoot should still look out of the earth. By autumn, the sinkers will then form enough roots to be separated from the mother plant.
Caring for blackberries
The blackberry is a real vitamin bomb and also extremely tasty and sweet. Their content of provitamin A and vitamin C is above average compared to their berry counterparts. For your blackberry to perform at its best, you should, however, take good care of it. But don’t worry: the blackberry doesn’t need a lot of attention.
The blackberry is a thirsty type of berry. When planting, you should therefore ensure that the roots are adequately watered. Its rapid growth and juicy berries mean that water consumption is relatively high. For this reason, make sure that your darlings always stand in moist soil without the blackberry sinking into waterlogging. Daily watering is therefore advisable, especially in hotter temperatures.
Regular fertilizers are necessary so that the blackberry can grow vigorously and produce a lot of fruit. It is best to fertilize the blackberry in early spring (March) with a primarily organic long-term fertilizer in organic quality. You can also use your own garden compost as a supplement. A mulch layer made from grass clippings also ensures a good humus supply.
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The blackberry needs regular pruning to keep itself in shape and to be protected against pests. Every year, the annual shoots that have already borne fruit are cut back very generously. This maintenance pruning is usually carried out before winter to make the plant more resistant for the winter and to take away pests such as the blackberry mite from their winter quarters.
It is great fun, especially for children, when they can nibble on fruits straight from the garden. But when are the blackberries ripe and what is the best way to pick them?
Blackberries: when is harvest time?
An exact date for the blackberry harvest cannot be given, as the plants keep producing fruit over a relatively long period of time. This is due to the uneven flowering time of the blackberry. This is good for us, as it allows us to harvest fresh blackberries whenever we need them without running the risk of them spoiling in the fridge. The blackberry harvest can extend from July to October, depending on the variety.
Picking blackberries: this is the best way to do it
The blackberry is made up of numerous small stone fruits. From a botanical point of view, one does not actually speak of berries, but aggregate stone fruits. The fruits are ripe when they shine blue-black and fall off by themselves when you pick them. Then they taste the sweetest. When harvesting the blackberries, gloves should be worn to avoid injury from the spines. In the meantime, however, there are also excellent thornless cultivars that make cultivation and care easier.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when harvesting:
- Wear gloves and long clothing against prickly tendrils
- Have enough bowls ready so that the blackberries are not crushed
- Do not pick the blackberries until they can be easily removed
- Blackberries do not ripen – so do not pick them too early
The blackberry is very juicy and soft. Due to its special shape, however, it is also particularly prone to bruises. It is advisable to consume the sweet berry a few days after harvesting at the latest, otherwise, it will spoil quickly. For those who would like to have some of their sweet treats for longer, we have some tips for storing and preserving blackberries here.
Blackberries are great for freezing. To keep the specimens as beautiful as possible after thawing, freeze your harvest as soon as possible. To do this, simply rinse the blackberries thoroughly, let them drain in a sieve, and then portion the sweet berries. Prepared this way, the blackberries are ready for the freezer.
Tip: If you use the blackberries in a dessert, for example, it is often advisable to serve them still slightly frozen. This conveys more freshness and gives the berry a little more bite.
Reduce the blackberries
Like most other berry fruits, blackberries can also be preserved by boiling them down. Especially processed as jelly or jam, the blackberries are fruity and tasty long after they have been harvested. To boil down, simply put your harvested fruits with the appropriate amount of preserving sugar and a little water in a saucepan and simmer until everything has combined into a homogeneous mass. Depending on your preference, you can now use a hand blender to fine-tune the consistency of the jam you want. Then fill the still hot fruity mass into sealable containers and boil them again for at least half an hour in a large saucepan. Then let it cool down – done.
Despite its great properties, the blackberry can occasionally become a nuisance. Above all, wild relatives of our garden varieties can develop into unloved intruders in our gardens. If this is the case, there are several ways to get rid of the blackberries that have once grown. On the one hand, this is possible through mechanical removal, i.e. by cutting off and digging out the foothills. There is also the option of combating blackberries with pesticides – but glyphosate-containing agents are not only viewed critically in gardening circles.