Blackberry plants are getting popular today as more and more people are beginning to understand their nutritional benefits. Blackberries look similar to raspberries, just that they are black in color. They are quite easy to grow. Here is everything to need to know about blackberry plants. You can also source for fresh produce by searching for blackberry plants for sale on the internet.
Types of Blackberries:
There are three kinds of blackberries:
- Erect Thorny Blackberries
These have bushes and stems that support themselves. This variety has a lot of prickly thorns.
- Erect Thornless Blackberries
As the name suggests, this kind has stems and bushes that grow erect on their own and they have no thorns.
- Trailing Thornless Blackberries
This variety has long canes that have to be trellised for support.
Blackberries are generally perennial plants with roots that survive year after year. The top of the plant above the soil level is known as biennial. The canes grow vegetatively for a year and then bear fruit the next year. After they bear fruit, they die. But new canes are soon sent by the plant to replace the dead canes. You also need to prune regularly to avoid overgrowth or messy plant growth. Pruning regularly also ensures a good harvest.
Right Time to Plant Blackberries:
- You should plant when the canes are dormant, mostly during spring time. You can also plant during late fall, but in areas which are very cold, planting should be delayed until early spring, as low temperatures can kill a few hybrid varieties.
- Blackberries and their hybrid varieties are all self-fertile plants. And so, you do not need multiple plants for fruit production.
Choosing the Right Planting Site:
- Choose a site that gets full sunlight to get a good harvest.
- The soil needs to be fertile and should have a good drainage as well. You can add organic content to enrich your soil further.
- You should plant your blackberries further away from wild blackberries as these may contain diseases that can weaken your own plants.
The Right Method of Planting:
- If you are planting the semi-erect types of blackberries, ensure that you leave a gap of 5 to 6 feet between each plant. The erect types should be placed 3 feet apart, while the space trailing ones should be planted 5 to 8 feet apart. The space rows should be planted around 8 feet apart.
- Also make sure to plant shallowly, at a distance of one inch deeper than at what they were grown in the nursery.
- If you are growing a trailing blackberry variety, you will have to arrange for a trellis or support. You can use a two-wire system in which the top wire can run at five to six feet with a second line running 18 inches below the top wire. At the end of the first year, you will find all the fruiting floricanes growing along the wires. You can then train the new primocanes below the fruiting floricanes in one direction to make it look neat and simple.
How to Care for Blackberries?
- It is important to mulch the plants throughout the growth season to conserve moisture and suffocate the weeds. You can place a thick layer of mulch covered on the plants all the time.
- Blackberries need a lot of moisture to grow and ripen. You need to provide at least an inch of water per week and even more than this during hot temperatures.
- You can also spray all-purpose fertilizers to the harvest such as 10-10-10 or 16-16-8.
By pruning blackberries regularly, you just need to remove the old canes that have borne fruit so that the new ones take their place.
- In trailing blackberry variety, after the first harvest time, the old floricanes should be removed to the ground. But, if the plant is healthy and free from diseases, you can delay removing the old floricanes until they die on their own. Doing so, will allow the old and dying floricanes to move their nutrients back into the roots. Once you remove the old floricanes, you need to train the new primocanes to grow up on the wires. You can pick one or two primocanes at a time and work their way in a spiral around the trellis wires. You do not need to prune primocanes.
- In the erect blackberry variety, the canes are shorter and stiffer growing from the crown and from the root. These need to be pruned in the summer months. You can do so by removing the top portion of the new primocanes when they are around 4 feet tall. This will result in the canes to branch and this helps in increasing yields. These plants will need many pruning sessions as each cane reaches a height of 4 feet. Primocanes growing around the hedgerow should be removed regularly. The dead floricanes should be removed in the winter months from the hedgerow.
- In the semi-erect blackberry variety, you need to install a four feet cross arm at the top of a six-feet post. These are easier to manage around a double T trellis. Also install a three-foot cross arm below the top line. String high-tensile wire down the rows connecting to the cross arms. These canes need to be pruned in the summer months. As soon as the primocanes are 5 feet tall, you need to remove the top at about 2 inches to encourage branching. After several pruning sessions as the canes reach the height of 5 feet. The dead floricanes should be removed in the winter months. The new primocanes should be spread along the trellis.
What Kind of Pests/Diseases Attack Blackberries?
The main pests and diseases attacking these plants are:
- Raspberry Borers
- Fruit Worms
- Gray Mold
You can prevent attacks by spraying fertilizers regularly. If your plant is attacked by Raspberry Bushy Dwarf Virus, you can notice bright yellow spots on the leaves. The leaves of the fruiting vines will also look bleached in the summer months. Another disease known as the Blackberry Calico will produce faint yellow blotches on the leaves. If you are buying blackberry or raspberry plants for sale, always check for these diseases on the plants to ensure that you are getting a healthy fruit.
- When harvesting ripe berries, pick only those that are fully black. Look for plump and mature berries that are firm, have a deep black color and are able to be pulled freely from the plant without a yank. If you pick an unripe berry, remember, it will not ripen after being plucked.
- You might need to pick berries often, every couple of days, once they begin to ripen.
- The main difference between blackberries and raspberries, apart from the color is that you need to keep the central plug within the fruit when picking blackberries, while as in raspberries, you need not do that.
- It is best to harvest them during the cooler parts of the day. Once you have picked them, store them in a shady place and refrigerate.
Nutritional Value of Blackberries:
These are high in ellagic acid. Ellagic acid is an antioxidant that acts as a scavenger. It helps to make potential cancer-causing chemicals inactive. Ellagic acid also reduces genetic damage caused by tobacco smoke or air pollution. Blackberries also help in lowering cholesterol and reducing risk of cardiovascular disease.
This is all you need to know about blackberries. If you are looking for blackberry plants for sale near me, you can look for nurseries around you.