Plant Low-Maintenance Blackberries

Plant low-maintenance blackberries, they are an easy-to-grow plant that produce abundant fruit. This is great news for everyone because blackberries are not only flavorful, they also are an excellent source of anthocyanins. These plant pigments are antioxidants that stimulate the immune system and thus prevent heart disease, cancer and more.

| December 2007/January 2008

Blackberries are a low-maintenance, easy-to-grow fruit that have many health benefits. Now new thornless varieties are available to make picking easier, and cold-hardy varieties are popping up in cooler climates where early winter weather made blackberries impossible until now.

Plant Low-Maintenance Blackberries

Blackberries are among the best and worst of fruits you can grow in your yard. In many areas, they grow themselves — often a little too well. The thorny vines eagerly overtake available space, and when you’re forced to take a stand, it can be a prickly, bloody battle.

If you have wild blackberries on your land, there are a few simple steps you can take now to help the plants produce better berries that are easier to pick. Better yet, diversify your home orchard — or underutilized space along a fence — to grow cultivated varieties famous for their zippy sweet flavor, large fruit and phenomenal productivity.

Thornless varieties now are available for easier picking, and in the newest twist in blackberries, you can grow late-season varieties that make it easier to grow blackberries in cooler climates where cultivated plants often lose their buds to winter weather (keep reading for more on new, cold-hardy blackberries).

Basic Blackberry Behavior

Like most other bramble fruits, blackberries bear best on one- and two-year-old canes, or woody stems. The many varieties come in either upright or trailing plants. With upright varieties, if you pinch or snip back the tips of new canes mid-summer (July is a good time), the plants will respond by growing heavy-blooming lateral branches that emerge from the main canes at right angles. “Tipping back” canes to 5 to 6 feet improves the productivity of upright blackberries (including wild ones) and keeps the best berries at the perfect picking height. Tipping back is not necessary with trailing varieties, but be prepared: Their canes quickly can grow up to 12 feet in length! Thinning these canes to six to 12 per plant, and trellising them to keep them off the ground, will bring out the best in wild or cultivated varieties.

Most people can recall popping a few blackberries into their mouth, biting down and then wishing they hadn’t, because the berries can taste too tart to eat out of hand until they have fully ripened (blackberries are ripe when they go from glossy to dull, a transition that usually takes two to three days). A fully ripe blackberry has a melt-in-your-mouth quality. In addition to tasting sour, prematurely picked blackberries have less than half of the immunity-boosting anthocyanins found in ripe berries (see “Blackberries Top the Chart,” below).

5/17/2018 11:18:31 AM

I had written down what you can put on growing berries to make them sweeter, but can not find it now. My strawberries are not very sweet this year. My thornless blackberries & blueberries are starting to put on berries & I want them to be sweet naturally.

7/26/2017 5:39:45 PM

I am just starting to grow blackberries. I appreciate the info

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