Known for its delicious fruit, blackberry plants are actually a member of the rose family. It is an herbaceous and woody perennial. When planting blackberries, a raised bed will produce the best results.
Blackberry, like the closely related raspberry, is a bramble fruit. The plants produce new canes each year, with fruit produced during the second year before the die back. Blackberry plants can grow as self-supporting bushes, semi-erect (with canes partially supported by a trellis) or trailing canes (which also require a trellis for support).
How To Plant Blackberries
For the home gardener, blackberry plants can produce sufficient quantities of fruit suitable for preserving, baking and creating nutritious meals and snacks. It isn’t difficult to plant the perennial, if you follow these steps to create a raised bed blackberry garden.
Step 1–Select The Site
Blackberry plants produce the most fruit in full sun, although they can also tolerate partial shade. Sensitive to wet soils, blackberry plants can die from too much moisture, which cause them to suffer from a lack of oxygen, or attack by root diseases. You want a well-drained, fertile and loam soil (not sandy or clay) with moderate water-holding capacity. Building raised beds for your fruit blackberry plants can solve the problems of a less desirable site.
Step 2–Select The Fruit Blackberry Plant
Decide whether you will be planting the erect self-supporting bushes, semi-erect or trailing canes (which require trellises for support) in your raised bed garden. There are early, mid-season and late cultivars in each type. You will probably want enough to have a long-bearing season of fruit blackberry.
Step 3–Construct The Raised Beds
Depending on the type of blackberry plant you will use, construct your raised beds to accommodate the space requirements. Trailing blackberry plants should be spaced 4 to 10 feet apart in the row, with 8 to 10 feet between rows. If you only have a single blackberry plant, you can get by with a 3 by 12 foot raised bed.
Step 4-Prepare The Soil In The Raised Beds
Since blackberry plants live a long time, with careful preparation of your raised bed site you should be able to have fruit blackberry production for 15 to 20 years.
- First, eliminate all perennial weeds. Do not let them go to seed.
- Next, apply a good supply of organic matter to the soil the summer or fall before you plant. Use manure, leaves, decomposed compost, chopped hay or straw, peat moss or sawdust.
- Only use organic material that is free of insects or seeds.
- Rototill, dig or plow the organic material into the soil.
- You may need to add ammonium nitrate to the material to aid in decomposition if it is too non-decomposed.
- Blackberries need a soil pH that is between 5.5 and 7. The year before you plant, test the soil’s pH. If it’s too acidic (with a pH below 5.5), add lime to the soil.
Step 5–Plant Blackberries the Next Year
With your raised beds and soil all prepared, your type of cultivar picked out, wait until the next spring (or as early as you can work the soil), and get ready to set your blackberry plants into the soil of your raised bed garden. Remember, they won’t produce fruit until the second year, so be patient. The slight delay will be well worth it.