How to fertilize blackberries?


Choosing a Sweet Blackberry Plant

I’ve said that my passion is propagation. It is. A close runner up would be experimentation. My latest experiment is standardizing blackberries.

Most everything I grow is grown in containers. I experiment with the size of containers, always trying to find the smallest container a plant will thrive in.

I experiment with mediums, looking for the most fertile soil or other medium for my plants. I mix all my own, starting with mulch from my own mulch pile.

Over the years, I’ve found that usually the ‘rougher’ the medium, the better. I used to sift out small twigs, unrotted leaves, pieces of bark and such. Now I leave all that in. Not only do these items add nutrients as they break down, they add greatly to the drainage and air availability to the roots of the plants.

While I am opposed to disfiguring plants, such as in the case of plaiting several ficus trees into one (I think they look ridiculous), I do like to experiment with the shaping of plants to increase yield, make harvesting easier, and make protecting the plants from birds and such, easier.

If you like blackberries, these too can be grown successfully in containers. The University of Arkansas Blackberry Breeding Program has put forth much time and effort into developing several varieties of thornless blackberries. Most all these new varieties have native American tribe names.

Each variety has it’s own set of characteristics. The Navajo is said to be one of the sweetest, however, it does not produce a heavy crop and the berries are quite small.

Next in line in sweetness (if I remember correctly) is the Apache and then the Arapaho. Both produce nicely and disease resistance is good. The Apache and Arapaho are both usually available in season at most garden centers. There are berries even sweeter than these mentioned, but they are usually harder to find.

The pictured plant is neither of the above named varieties. It is the Black Satin variety. I purchased four of these plants online without doing any research. It too, is a thornless variety.

I made my purchase 3 years ago. I found that blackberries are very easy to root. Now, I have about 30 plants of various sizes. I am trying to find a home for all these plants.
Why would I give away all these plants after putting so much work into them? Well, I like a blackberry with enough sweetness, it can be eaten right off the bush, if desired.

The Black Satin berry is very tart. In my opinion, it is only suited for making jams, jellies, and wine. Though it is thornless, bears well and has good disease resistance, you should steer clear of it if you want a sweet berry.

All is not lost. I have learned a lot by growing and training these Black Satin berries. That knowledge will be applied to the new Apache and Arapaho plants I purchased earlier this year.

I mention the Apache and Arapaho because they are usually available. There are several more thorny and thornless varieties which have been developed, both erect and trailing. I have chosen to work with the Apache because it is thornless, bears well, and is sweet. I also chose it because of it’s erect habit which should make it more suitable for training as a standard.

If you are into blackberries, particularly the newer thornless varieties, take a look at the site below. You will find out more than you ever wanted to know about them.

One thing in particular you might want to read about in these charts is the ‘Brix’ value of each berry. The sweetness of blackberries is rated in brix. The higher the brix number, the sweeter the berry.

Oprah said “The blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice”. But then, I doubt she knew her brix from her cinder blocks.

New sweeter, bigger blackberries ‘will be as popular as strawberries’

• Pinch and kiss – but don’t eat blackberries after October 11

Production at his farm has soared from 30 tonnes in 2012 to 180 tonnes in 2014, and the annual tonnage is set to soar further this year with good weather.

A Driscoll’s Victoria Blackberry, right, with a normal one (PA)

Mr Pascall said: “Finding a larger, sweeter blackberry variety that can be eaten on its own as a dessert or as a snack has long been the Holy Grail for UK berry growers.

“We’ve been trialling various sweeter varieties for a few years now but none have produced as consistent a taste or size as the Driscoll’s Victoria which is already proving to be a game changer for growers like myself and also on the high street.”

He said the move by some supermarkets to sell blackberries in snacking packs would widen their appeal and encourage growers to invest further in production and establish the fruit as a rival to other top-selling berries.

• Recipes with blackberries, perfect parcels of mellow fruitfulness

Tesco soft fruit buying manager Simon Mandelbaum said: “Traditionally, blackberries have never been as popular as strawberries, blueberries and raspberries, and that’s because they have not been as sweet.

“They’ve always been popular in cooking, especially as ingredients for jam, pies and crumbles, but lesser so as a treat to be enjoyed on their own.

“However, that’s not the case in America where blackberries are far more popular than in the UK and the varieties are far sweeter.

“The early results speak for themselves and we think these sweeter, giant blackberries could totally revolutionise the UK berry industry and see the fruit eventually become as popular as blueberries have become in the last 10 years, and maybe, one day, even strawberries.”

Fertilizing Blackberry Plants – Learn When To Fertilize Blackberry Bushes

If you want to grow your own fruit, a great place to start is by growing blackberries. Fertilizing your blackberry plants will give you the highest yield and the largest juiciest fruit, but how to fertilize your blackberry bushes? Read on to find out when to fertilize blackberry bushes and other specific blackberry feeding requirements.

How to Fertilize Blackberries

Berries, in general, are nutritious, and blackberries have been shown to help fight cancer and cardiovascular disease as well as slow down aging of the brain. Today’s new cultivars can even be found thornless, erasing those memories of torn clothing and scratched skin while harvesting their wild brethren.

Easier to harvest, they may be, but to get that bumper crop, you need a fertilizer for blackberries. First things first, though. Plant your berries in full sun, allowing plenty of room to grow. The soil should be well-draining, sandy loam rich in organic matter. Decide if you want trailing, semi-trailing or erect berries and thorny or thornless. All blackberries benefit from a trellis or support so have that in place as well. How many plants should you get? Well, a single healthy blackberry plant can supply up to 10 pounds of berries per year!

When to Fertilize Blackberries

Now that you have planted your selections, what are the feeding requirements for your new blackberries? You don’t begin fertilizing blackberry plants until 3-4 weeks after the setting of new plants. Fertilize after growth starts. Use a complete fertilizer, like 10-10-10, in the amount of 5 pounds per 100 linear feet or 3-4 ounces around the base of each blackberry.

Use either a complete 10-10-10 food as fertilizer for your blackberries or use compost, manure or another organic fertilizer. Apply 50 pounds of organic fertilizer per 100 feet in the late fall prior to the first frost.

As growth starts to appear in early spring, spread inorganic fertilizer over the top of the soil in each row in the amount as above of 5 pounds of 10-10-10 per 100 feet.

Some folks say to fertilize three times a year and some say once in the spring and once in the late fall before the first frost. The blackberries will let you know if you need a supplemental feeding. Look at their leaves and determine if the plant is fruiting and growing well. If so, no fertilizing the blackberry plants is necessary.

A Tasty Task: Fertilizing Blueberries and Blackberries

Boost fruit production with timely fertilizer applications to your berry bushes.

By Kimberly Toscano

Download the Fertilizing Blueberries and Blackberries PDF

Producing juicy berries is hard work. Plants utilize large amounts of water and nutrients to develop those tasty fruits. By applying the right fertilizer at the right time, you can give your berry bushes a helping hand.

When Do I to Fertilize?

Blueberries and blackberries have different needs when it comes to fertilization. Timing of fertilizer applications is focused around plant growth and fruit development. Blueberries respond well to small amounts of fertilizer applied at three separate applications, the first applied when new growth begins in spring, followed by a second application six weeks later. A third application is made just after harvest. For blackberries, apply fertilizer in spring as growth begins and again in June or July following harvest.

What Fertilizer Do I Use?

Most fruit crops require annual applications of nitrogen to support root and shoot growth, maintain healthy green foliage, and promote high-quality fruits. A slow-release nitrogen source is most desirable to prevent excessive losses by leaching in irrigation water. Other nutrients, including phosphorous and potassium, tend to be readily available in well maintained soils. Conducting a soil test is the best way to determine if additional nutrients are needed.

Not all fertilizers are the same. In particular, fertilizers carry nitrogen in several different forms. Blackberries respond well to any nitrogen-rich fertilizer, but blueberries require fertilizers with an ammonium form of nitrogen such as urea, sulfur-coated urea, ammonium sulfate, or cottonseed meal. Any fertilizer sold for azaleas or rhododendrons also works well for blueberries. Avoid using the nitrate form of nitrogen on blueberries, since nitrates have been shown to be toxic to blueberry plants.

How Much Fertilizer Do I Apply?

With nitrogen applications, more is not always better. Too much nitrogen can lead to excessive branching and growth at the expense of fruit production. For blueberries, excess nitrogen can kill the plant. The following table gives application rates per plant for mature blueberries and blackberries. Blueberry application rates increase with the plant age. For first- and second-year blueberries, divide the application rate in half. For third-year blueberry plants, multiply the application rate by 0.75. Apply the full rate to fourth-year plants and older. Blackberries can receive the full amount of fertilizer regardless of age.

What is the Best Way to Apply Fertilizer?

Blueberries and blackberries take up nutrients through their root system. To apply fertilizers, start by gently raking the soil in a circle around each plant. You do not want to damage the roots, so do not rake deeply – simply loosen the surface soil for fertilizer incorporation. Sprinkle fertilizers uniformly around the drip line of the plant and one foot outward, but never near the base of the plant. Be careful not to get fertilizer on the foliage or against the bark because this will cause damage. If the fertilizer does come in contact with leaves, brush it away immediately afterward. Once you have spread the fertilizer, gently work it into the soil with a rake, then water the fertilizer into the soil so it can become available to the plants.

Fertilizing berry bushes does not have to be complicated. Our table makes it easy to determine how much fertilizer to apply and when.

Downloadable PDF for quick reference throughout the year.

Blackberry Growing Guide


Blackberries are an ideal home plant for most temperature areas of New Zealand.

Early or mid-season ripening fruit varieties are usually the best bet to avoid berries coming on in the beginning of winter. The blackberry has a much shorter fruiting time than other berries, and the fruit can be quite insipid and tasteless towards the end of the season.

To ensure success, it is best to buy plants from a garden centre to establish the desirable characteristics. Most blackberry plants available in garden centres are the thornless variety.


Blackberries are cold-hardy, and grow well in most areas of New Zealand. Plant in full sun for the best results. Blackberries are generally planted out in winter and spring.

Blackberries are a tall plant so choose an area in your garden away from strong winds, up against a fence on a north facing wall is a good option. A simple tee pee or pyramid system made from 3-5 straight branches is effective. Stakes, bamboo canes and trellis can be used as well.

The better the soil, the better your berries will grow. If you are starting with an existing garden bed dig in organic matter like Tui Sheep Pellets and Tui Compost to your soil. Then you can add a layer of Tui Strawberry Mix, a high quality planting mix containing the right blend of nutrients to provide your berries with the best possible start and sustained growth throughout the season.

Check plant labels for individual planting instructions. The best times to plant are early in the morning or late in the day, so the plants aren’t exposed to the hot sun straight away.


Feed your berries and they will feed you. Plants use nutrients from the soil as they grow, so replenishing the nutrients ensures your plants grow to their full potential.

  • Fertilise blackberries with Tui Strawberry Food in spring and autumn.
  • For berries grown in containers use Tui NovaTec Premium fertiliser

Prune in late summer or autumn after fruiting. Cut out the weakest shoots, leaving no more than three per plant.

Birds love juicy blackberries, to avoid them stealing yours, put up netting to protect your blackberries once they start fruiting.

As they grow in the spring, blackberries can be trained up a trellis or on wires. Strong supports will be needed if they are to be contained above the ground as the brambles can get really heavy


Growing berries is not a cinch – they have fierce thorns, troublesome pruning rules and require commitment (and hardware) to keep wildlife away from ripening fruit.

But if berry-stained lips sound to you like a rich reward, take notes from Linda’s masterclass, and plant in winter.

Climate and personal taste are the criteria for berry choice from the wide range available through mail-order companies. These include the lesser-known silvanberry, marionberry, loganberry, youngberry and boysenberry as well as the classic strawberry, raspberry, blueberry and blackberry.

Photo –


Facts: deciduous, cane-bearing shrub. The roots are the only permanent part of the plant; the canes are temporary. Fruits November to April. Grows from suckers. Requires pruning. Grows 1.5m tall, plant 40cm apart.

Climate: can only be grown in climates where winter temperatures reach less than zero.

How to grow: a sturdy 2.5m post in each corner of the raspberry bed is essential for the wire support the hedgerows will need and for attaching bird netting. Canes should be clamped between pairs of parallel wires, or bunched together to encourage a neat arched framework from which to pick the berries. Shorter canes that don’t reach the wirescan be plaited into the longer canes for more support.

Varieties: the two raspberries I have had experience with are ‘Chilliwack’ and ‘Heritage – both delectable! ‘Chilliwack’ is a summer-fruiting raspberry that holds fruit well on the canes so you can revisit every few days to pick fruit at premium ripeness. ‘Heritage’ has huge yields in autumn only.

Pruning: ‘Chilliwack’ is a traditional type, so old canes that have fruited must be pruned off, and new canes left to overwinter. ‘Heritage’ is easier to prune as you can cut the entire plant down in winter.

Raspberries grow best in areas with a cold winter. That includes the ranges of NSW, most of Victoria, the Adelaide Hills and Tasmania. Eight plants will start the average family off well. Plant July-September. Photo –

Blackberry and blackberry hybrids

Facts: deciduous, cane-bearing shrub. The roots are the only permanent part of the plant; the canes are temporary. Fruits November to February. Grows from suckers. Winter pruning. Grows 2m high, plant 1-3m apart.

Climate: cool climate only except for some hybrids, such as loganberries and youngberries, which are better suited to warm climates.

How to grow: blackberries need training along a trellis to tame them into a garden-friendly shape. The problem is that as each shoot grows it arches to the ground, where takes root. You need to avoid allowing this to happen by tying the cane to the trellis before it can root.

Varieties: boysenberries are tasty, but thorny. Loganberries are thornless so well-suited to the home garden; they must ripen on the bush to gain their full sweetness. Silvanberries fruit over a long period. Youngberries are similar to boysenberries but with sweeter, shinier fruit. Marionberries have better flavour but produce less than other berries.

Pruning: logan, boysen and young berries should be pruned back to four buds above ground level in late spring to encourage more branching.

You can plant two blackberry canes in the same hole. Thy don’t need to be fertilised initially, but in spring add some good general purpose fertiliser, lots of potash, and not too much nitrogen. Photo –


Facts: deciduous bush growing to 1m, fruiting from November to April. Prune lightly after fruiting. Requires an acid soil. Yields 4kg per bush, grows 1-1.2m high. Plant 50cm apart. Beautiful autumn leaf colour and stunning bell-shaped flowers in spring. Blueberries are self-fertile.

Climate: warm climates are best but will take winter lows of -1 degree C, given frost protection.

How to grow: treat blueberries like azaleas: rich soil, moisture, good drainage and a position away from strong winds. The best thing you can is to mulch with pine leaves and chook manure.

Varieties: I love ‘Sunshine Blue’, which has a low chilling requirement (ideal for coastal and warm climate gardens) as well as being quite tolerant of alkaline soil (at least it is in the Garden Clinic HQ garden!). ‘Misty’ is another good warm-climate blueberry. ‘Northumberland’ has great clusters of berries that persist well on the bush, very hardy to extremes of heat, and good for cooler climates.

Pruning: don’t allow plants to fruit for the first two years, as a good structural development is important. Stems will then produce berries for up to four years and then can be removed at ground level or to a vigorous side shoot. Keep the centre of the bush open to allow good air circulation.

Blueberries are a nutrition superfood, high in antioxidants and Vitamin A and C. Use in pies or muffins, as well as snacks. Grow them in cold and warm temperate climates, planting when they are dormant in winter. Photo –


Facts: groundcover plant producing runners that fruit in subsequent years. Fruits October to May, with 10 plants producing 5kg. Grows 40cm high, plant 20cm apart.

How to grow: strawberries need sun, good drainage and plenty of organic matter. They have shallow roots that are prone to drying out. In very cold areas, protect plants during winter with straw. Weed control is vital. Plant winter-spring, add liberal blood and bone. Feed frequently throughout the season, spraying fortnightly with seaweed solution alternating with comfrey tea. Do not plant strawberries where tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes or raspberries have been growing during the last five years as the pathogen verticillium can debilitate them!

Varieties: grow a range of varieties for a long picking season. Digger’s Strawberry Collections, comprise dozens of excellent varieties. Add ‘Temptation’ and ‘Alinta’, which crop into winter. Foodies will love the white alpine strawberry, which has the advantage of being difficult for birds to see.

Pruning: throughout the growing season runners will emerge from the mother plant. Remove the strongest ones and replant either in pots or straight into the next strawberry patch. Remove old tatty leaves in autumn/winter. Eventually older plants will be replaced with new runners.

In cooler areas the recommended planting time for strawberries is late winter or early spring. In warm/subtropical areas March-April is the best planting time. Make sure the strawberry crowns (tops of the roots) are at soil level or they will rot. Photo –
Text: Linda Ross

Home Garden Raspberries and Blackberries

Circular 766 View PDF picture_as_pdf

Revised by Robert Westerfield, Extension Horticulturist
Original manuscript by Gerard Krewer and Marco Fonseca, Former Extension Horticulturists
Phil Brannen, Extension Plant Pathologist
Dan Horton, Extension Entomologist

  • Growing Trailing Blackberries and the Dormanred Raspberry
  • Fertilizing Brambles
  • Growing Erect Blackberries
  • Growing Primocane Raspberries
  • General Culture Requirements
  • Diseases
  • Disease Control
  • Bramble Insects

Blackberries and raspberries are one of the most popular fruits to grow and they are among the easiest for the home gardener to successfully produce. Blackberries and raspberries come as erect types (no trellis required) and trailing types (trellis required), depending on the varieties selected. Certain varieties of erect and trailing blackberries do well in Georgia, while only the trailing raspberry Dormanred has proven itself for all of Georgia. Developed by Mississippi State, Dormanred is an ever-bearing trail-type raspberry well adapted for growing in southern states. Fruits are firm, red and have very good flavor. Certain erect varieties such as Heritage are grown commercially in the Georgia mountains and have performed well in north Georgia. For this reason, Heritage is recommended for planting in the mountain and upper Piedmont areas.

Growing Trailing Blackberries and the Dormanred Raspberry

Trailing blackberries and the Dormanred raspberry are known as brambles, and their culture is similar.

Site Selection

Brambles should be planted in an area receiving at least six to eight hours of sunlight. While brambles can tolerate a wide range of soils, they do best on loamy sand, sandy loam or clay loam soils. Avoid planting in low areas where water may stand after heavy rains. Before planting time arrives, take a soil sample from the proposed planting site to your county Extension office for analysis to determine liming requirements. Brambles do best in slightly acidic soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.5.

Building the Trellis and Planting

Plant trailing brambles between December and March. Should the plants arrive before you are ready to plant them, store them in a cool place (34 degrees to 40 degrees F) and do not allow them to dry out. Apply dolomitic lime if needed prior to thoroughly working the soil. Till the soil to a depth of 8 to 10 inches. After the soil has been firmed by a drenching rain and excess water has drained out of the soil, build the trellis and then do the planting.

Because blackberry and raspberry plants live for many years, treat trellis posts with preservatives and use No. 9 gauge wire. Set 6½- or 7-foot posts 1½ or 2 feet in the ground 10 to 20 feet apart. Use three strands of trellis wire, with the first strand at the top and the other strands 18 inches apart. If more than one row is to be planted, space the rows 12 feet apart.

Plant trailing brambles with 10 feet between plants. Dig the planting hole approximately twice as wide as the root system of your plant. If you use container-grown plants, cut the roots off or untwine them so none remain in a circular position. When planting is complete, the crown (the origin of the mass of roots) of the plant should be ½ inch below the soil line. Some plants will have a “handle” (piece of old stem) attached to the plant, and this handle should be above the soil surface. Mulch the planting to conserve moisture and reduce weeds.

Pruning and Training Trailing Brambles

of brambles so they can be properly pruned and trained. The biennial life cycle of canes is as follows: the primocane is the first year of growth; canes grow vegetatively throughout the summer; fruit bud initiation occurs in late summer to early fall. A floricane branch develops in the second year of growth; bud flower initiation is completed; blooms, fruits and cane then die. These canes need to be removed. These plants produce biennial (two-year) canes, which grow one season (primocane), and flower, fruit and die the second season (floricanes). New canes are produced each season, so fruiting canes are present annually after the first year of planting. Some varieties of raspberries and blackberries fruit on first-year canes. These are called primocane fruiting varieties.

First Year: Little pruning is necessary for trailing brambles the year they are planted. Place a mulch of pine straw, hay, newspaper or plastic on the ground around the plants.

Second Year: After the fruiting season, remove the old canes that are in the process of dying. Tie the new canes of trailing blackberries to the trellis and tip them 6 inches above the top wire to encourage branching. During the following winter, train canes in a fan pattern away from the crown, and place ties where canes cross each trellis wire. Lateral shoots may be shortened to lengths of 10 to 20 inches if necessary. In the second year, plants should have a total cane length of 20 to 50 feet, with larger, vigorous plants retaining more wood. As the plants age, more canes can be left. Exceptionally vigorous plants may be able to support up to 100 feet of canes. Plants with low vigor should be pruned to retain fewer canes.

For Dormanred raspberries, let the canes lay on top of the mulch until late February, then tie them to the trellis. This will reduce winter damage to the canes. After the first fruiting season (second year of establishment), the canes that fruited will die. Prune out the dead canes.

Confine new canes (those that will produce fruit the next season) to the ground under the trellis so you do not run over them with a mower. In late winter, train the new canes to the wires. Because some of these new canes to be trellised may be 15 or more feet long, estimate the length of individual canes needed to fit on the trellis. While the canes are still on the ground, cut them to this estimated length, lift them off the ground and tie them to the trellis. Figure 1 shows a job well done with Dormanred raspberries. When lifting the canes, do not bend them excessively or they may break.

Figure 1. A proper trellis for trailing blackberries or Dormanred raspberries.


The berries are ripe and at the peak of flavor when they lose their high glossy shine and turn slightly dull. Harvesting is best when the berries are juiciest, which is during the late morning hours after the dew has dried.

The harvest season for the Dormanred raspberry is June 20 to July 10 in Athens, Ga. The Gem blackberry is ripe for picking from June 25 to July 15. Harvest of most trailing blackberries begins around July 1 and ends a month later. These bramble varieties begin harvest about two weeks earlier in south Georgia and one to two weeks later in the north Georgia mountains.

Fertilizing Brambles

Fertilize trailing blackberries, Dormanred raspberries and erect blackberries twice a year in most situations. Trailing blackberries and Dormanred raspberries should receive about 2 ounces of premium grade (containing micronutrients) 10-10-10 in April and July of the first year. Scatter the fertilizer evenly over a circle 2 feet in diameter centered on the plant.

Erect blackberries usually are planted closer together, so a banded fertilizer application can be made from the start. The first year, apply 1 pound of 10-10-10 per 18 feet of row in April and 1 pound per 36 feet of row in June.

For all three types in future years, apply 1 pound of 10-10-10 per 9 feet of row in February or early March and 1 pound of 10-10-10 per 18 feet of row in June. Spread the fertilizer evenly over the row in a band 2 feet wide. Take a soil sample to your county Extension office for custom fertilizer recommendations for your soil.

Recommended Varieties in Order of Ripening by Cane Type
Fruit Type Variety Cane Type
Blackberries Apache Erect Large quality berries; thornless.
Arapaho Erect Early- to mid-season thornless; medium size fruit; resistant to Rosette disease, but may have problems with leaf diseases and cane die-back.
Chester Trailing Late-season; thornless; premium fruit.
Chicksaw Erect Mid-season; large fruit.
Darrow Erect Early-season; sugar sweet fruit with great flavor.
Kiowa Erect Early- to mid-season; very productive; large fruit size. Moderately susceptible to Rosette disease. Probably the best home garden variety.
Natchez Erect Early-season; thornless; large fruit.
Navaho Erect Mid- to late-season thornless; medium fruit size; resistant to Rosette disease but may have problems with leaf diseases.
Ouachita Erect Mid-season; thornless.
Shawnee Erect Mid-season; medium to large fruit with good flavor.
Triple Crown Semi-Erect Early-season known for flavor, productivity and vigor. Disease-resistant. Large berries.
Raspberries Anne Erect Golden yellow fruit, tropical in flavor. Self-pollinating. Sets fruit on cane first year.
Autumn Bliss Erect Early-season; everbearing; large attractive fruit.
Cumberland Trailing Black raspberry; one of the oldest cultivars.
Dormanred Trailing Fruit must be very ripe to be sweet; good producer statewide; better cooked than fresh. Makes good jam and pies.
Heritage Erect Possibly the easiest and heaviest producer.
Jewell Black Trailing Most disease-resistant variety; highly flavorful fruit.
Nova Erect Early-season; thornless.
Polka Erect Great companion for Heritage. Winter hardy, but heat-tolerant.

Growing Erect Blackberries

Erect blackberries, like trailing ones, can grow in a wide variety of soils; they do best, however, on sandy loam or clay loam soils with a pH of 6.0 to 6.5. If you do not know the soil pH, take a sample of the soil to your county Extension office for analysis. Select a site with plenty of sunlight that is near a source of water in case irrigation is necessary. Do not plant in low areas where water stands after heavy rains.


Apply dolomitic lime if necessary to raise the pH to the desired range; thoroughly work the soil to seed-bed consistency. Allow the soil to be firmed by a drenching rain before planting.

Plant erect blackberries in late February and early March. If your root cuttings or plants arrive before this time, store them in a cool place (34 to 40 degrees F) until you are ready to plant. Do not allow these root cuttings or plants to dry out; keep them damp but not wet during storage. Plants or root cuttings (which are 4 to 6 inches long and about pencil size in diameter) can be used to establish erect blackberry plantings. Root cuttings cost about a third as much as plants, but not all of them will come up.

Fifteen plants, if properly cared for, will supply all the berries an average family will need. For a hedgerow of blackberries, plant the root cuttings or plants 2 to 4 feet apart in the row. If you want to keep the plants separated, set root cuttings or plants 8 feet apart in the row. Set the root cuttings horizontally 2 inches below the soil surface. If plants are used, plant them with the root system approximately 2 inches below the soil line. Do not fertilize at this time; wait until after a drenching rain settles the soil. If more than one row is to be planted, plant the rows 12 feet apart.

Pruning Erect Blackberries

The year of planting, canes produced by erect blackberry plants will be semi-erect or trailing. Contain these semi-erect or trailing canes to the row area and do not prune them. They will provide some fruit the following year.

Although erect blackberries can be grown without a trellis, a trellis is very useful in years one and two to keep the trailing canes off the ground. This allows herbicide applications around the plant and keeps soil from splashing on the fruit. Consider constructing a lightweight trellis in year one made with small posts and plastic baling string. Tie the trailing canes to the trellis. Most commercial growers of erect blackberries in Georgia use trellises to help support heavy crop loads. Several types of trellises are being used, but the V trellis helps produce high yields. For details on trellis construction, see, Commercial Bramble Production.

New canes produced the second and succeeding seasons will be erect. Cut these to a height of 40 to 42 inches in early summer to encourage lateral shoot development. This practice reduces excessive height of the canes and increases the stability of the hedge. Several prunings may be necessary.

During the dormant season, prune out the dead canes that provided fruit the previous summer. While winter pruning, it?s a good idea to shorten any long, lateral branches. Reduce these by one-third to one-half of the length of the branch.

Just like trailing blackberries or dormant raspberries, erect blackberries are ripe and at their peak of flavor when they lose their high glossy shine and turn slightly dull. Harvesting is best when berries are juiciest, during the late morning hours after the dew has dried. The harvest season for Cherokee and Cheyenne is June 10 to July 5 in Athens, Ga. Harvest begins about two weeks earlier in south Georgia and one to two weeks later in the north Georgia mountains.

Growing Primocane Raspberries

Heritage, Caroline, Nantahala and Redwing are erect “fall” raspberry varieties that produce fruit in late summer and fall. Confine planting to Piedmont and Mountain areas of the state for these red raspberry varieties.

These varieties differ from erect blackberries, trailing blackberries and the Dormanred raspberry because they produce fruit on primocanes (first-year canes). Canes emerge from the ground in early spring, grow to 3 to 4 feet tall, and form flower clusters in the terminals of the canes. Once the terminals flower, flower clusters are produced one at a time progressively back down the canes. The first fruits of Redwing to ripen are generally ready for harvest in Athens about July 15. Harvest continues until a killing freeze.

Cultural Requirements

Prepare the soil as described for erect blackberries. Set the plants 2 feet apart in rows 12 feet apart. Raspberries perform poorly in heavy clay soils; it is critical that they be on good soil with irrigation and mulching.

Fertilize erect raspberries with 1½ ounces of premium grade (containing micronutrients) 10-10-10 per foot of row in March and 3 ounces of calcium nitrate (or 3 ounces of 10-10-10) per foot of row in June of the first year. From the second year on, increase the March application to 3 ounces of 10-10-10 and continue to use the June application of 3 ounces of calcium nitrate.


The best part of growing primocane raspberries is ease of pruning. In winter, cut all canes off at the ground line. Primocane varieties can be treated exclusively as a fall fruiting variety when all of the canes are removed each winter. Commercial producers mow the canes at the ground line with a sickle bar mower and rake the old canes out for burning.

General Culture Requirements


Water brambles during dry parts of the season. Apply enough water to wet the soil at least 8 to 10 inches below the ground surface. This is particularly important for raspberries.


Brambles will benefit from mulching, which prevents extremes in soil temperature and helps conserve moisture.



This disease first appears as small, purplish spots on the new canes. As the disease progresses, the spots enlarge and become grayish in the center with purplish, slightly raised edges. Cracking bark on diseased canes is common. Badly infected canes may wilt and die. Infections in the berry clusters will cause withered, dry berries.

Rosette (Double Blossom)

This fungus disease is becoming very serious in Georgia. Buds on vegetative canes become infected during the spring and summer. During the following season, numerous short leafy shoots develop from the infected leaf buds. These shoots become broom-like in appearance. Infected flower buds tend to be larger than normal. Blossoms from infected buds are obviously abnormal, often with numerous extra petals. These flowers do not produce fruit. Of the recommended blackberries, Gem, Arapaho and Navaho are the only varieties resistant to double blossom.

Orange Felt Alga

Also known as orange cane blotch, is a disease of blackberry caused by the parasitic alga Cephaleuros virescens. Orange felt is especially prevalent on blackberries grown in very hot, wet and humid environments, such as those encountered in much of the Coastal Plain areas of the Southeast. Damaged tissue has been observed within the plant cortex region as well, opening the door for the possibility that the plant may be “girdled” by the infections or that they may cause subsequent damage. Since stem cracking also accompanies infection, this may also account for death of blackberry canes due to secondary attack by opportunistic fungi such as Botryosphaeria species.

Orange Rust

Leaves on infected canes turn yellow soon after they unfold in the spring. The undersides of the leaves will quickly be covered with orange pustules. In late summer, plants may appear to grow out of the disease, but infected canes will tend to be spindly and bear poorly. Remove infected plants, including the roots, as soon as the disease is detected because it spreads readily from one plant to another.

Crown Gall

Crown gall causes tumerous growths in plant crowns and root systems. Once infected, plants cannot be cured. Crown gall reduces plant vigor, which, in turn, can increase mortality and decrease productivity. Do not transplant any plants with galls on them. Do not transplant apparently healthy plants out of fields where crown gall is present.


Viruses can be a problem in blackberry production. Buy plants with healthy, bright green foliage. Ask for tissue cultivars and virus-free varieties.

Disease Control

Sanitation is the most important means of bramble disease control. The following suggestions will improve your chances of producing healthy berries.

If cane diseases become a problem, cut off all plants at the soil line just after harvest. For varieties with double blossom, cut canes back to 12 inches above the ground immediately after harvest. Fertilize and irrigate the vines to get new growth in the current year for next year?s crop. If diseases are absent, maintain conventional pruning practices.

  • Set out only disease-free plants.
  • Remove as many wild blackberries growing nearby as possible.
  • Practice good weed control around the plants. Weed removal allows good air circulation, which helps reduce conditions favorable to disease development.

Bramble Insects

Brambles are attacked by two primary insect pests in Georgia — the strawberry weevil and the red-necked cane borer. Cultural control and minimal “as needed” sprays normally control these pests. There are a number of sporadic but occasionally harmful pests. Plant bugs, leaffooted bugs, stink bugs, blackberry psylla, aphids, Japanese beetles, mites, thrips and raspberry crown borers all are potential problem insects.

Strawberry weevils are small, 1/10-inch-long weevils or snout beetles. They vary from dull red to nearly black with a dark spot just behind the center on each wing cover. Strawberry weevil females injure brambles by laying eggs in flower buds and girdling bud stems, which kills the buds. They are normally present just before and during bloom. Treat when weevils are present and an excessive number of cut buds are found.

Red-necked cane borers are 1/4-inch-long black beetles that have red “necks” or thoraxes. Adults are generally present from May to early June. Larval feeding causes 1- to 3-inch-long swellings of the canes. The bark often splits in the swollen area. Cane borers are controlled by pruning. Infested canes are not productive and, if not destroyed, may re-infest other canes for years. Always remove infested canes and burn them as they appear.

Blackberry psyllids are 1/8-inch-long, aphid-like insects with three reddish stripes running lengthwise on their wings. Adult psyllids jump when disturbed. Blackberry psyllids overwinter in conifers and move to brambles in the spring. Feeding stunts plants and causes leaves to be tightly curled. Treat if leaf distortion is severe and psyllids are present.

Japanese beetles are 1/2-inch-long metallic green to greenish-bronze beetles. They feed on and may defoliate a variety of plants. Defoliation may cause stunted, unthrifty plants. Treat as needed.

Raspberry crown borers are black, clear-winged moths. The females have yellow legs and rings around their abdomens. The larvae are yellowish-white with brown heads and brown on the tip of the thoracic legs. Larval feeding causes weak, spindly canes that break off easily. Pull up and burn infested canes and roots.

Spider mites are 1/50-inch-long spider-like creatures that feed on leaves, causing white speckles, then discolored blotches, to develop. Close examination reveals silken threads on the leaf surface. Mites do well in hot, dry weather. Treat if a sharp population increase is noted or if leaf damage appears.

Status and Revision History
Published on Dec 15, 2004
Published on Feb 27, 2009
In Review on Jan 05, 2010
Published with Minor Revisions on Jun 09, 2010
Published with Minor Revisions on Oct 18, 2013
Published with Full Review on Jul 11, 2016

Blackberries and Raspberries

Garden Help > Fruits & Nuts > Berries


Three main types of raspberries are grown in the United States: red, purple and black. They differ in ways other than fruit color. Red raspberries have erect canes and are propagated by suckers. These are usually grown in the Western States. Black raspberries have arched canes that root at the tips. Purple raspberries are hybrids of red and black varieties. The black and purple varieties are grown in the Eastern States.

Varieties of blackberries include boysenberries, ollalieberries, loganberries, and youngberries. Boysenberries are reddish black with an aroma and flavor similar to raspberries. Ollalieberries are slightly longer and more slender than the boysenberry and are a cross between black, logan and youngberries.


Raspberries grow best in cool climates. A wide range of soil types are suitable for growing raspberries, from sandy loam to clay. The most important requirement for the berries is that the soil be deep so that the roots are not restricted. Raspberries should not be planted in an area following the cultivation of tomatoes, eggplant or potatoes. Diseases that affect these plants may remain in the soil and damage the berries. Plants may be set in hills or in rows. Red raspberry plants should be set 2′ to 3′ apart if planted in rows. Before planting, cut the tops of the plants back to six inches. Set the plants into the hole so they are 2–3″ deeper than they were in the nursery. Water after transplanting.

Blackberries do best in deep well-drained soils such as sandy loams and loamy sands. They should be planted in January or February but definitely by April 1. Planting them on raised beds is not recommended; they will easily dry out if this is done. Space the plants 3.5′ apart in rows. Space the rows 8′ apart. The biggest problem growers have is placing the plants too deep; plant the berries at the same depth they were growing before transplanting. Water after transplanting.


To get maximum yields from raspberries, apply fertilizer every year in the early spring just as new growth begins. Manure works well as does a commercial 5-10-5 fertilizer. Apply this as a top dressing at the rate of 500–600 lbs/acre or spread in a wide band no closer than about 6″ from the crown around each hill.

Blackberries require only nitrogen as fertilizer; 200 lbs of actual nitrogen per year is required per acre. This works out to 50 lbs before growth starts, 15–20 lbs about every third irrigation, and 50 lbs after pruning.


Some red raspberry varieties have long, slender canes that must be tied. They can be staked or tied to a trellis. Set the trellis posts 15–30′ apart and run wires between them. Most red raspberry varieties are stout caned and can be planted in hills without training them to stakes.

To build a trellis for boysenberries, use 4″ by 5″ or larger timbers for the end posts (2″ by 2″ posts with braces works as well). Use 2″ by 2″ grape stakes in between the posts at 20′ foot intervals, 6′ long with 18″ in the ground. For ollalies build a 4.5′ trellis and run the first wire 1.5′ from the ground, the second wire one foot above the first, and so on.


Raspberry canes are biennial; they grow the first year, fruit the second, then die. Only the crown and the roots are perennial. Old canes should be removed as soon as the fruit is harvested. New canes grow from buds on the base of the old canes. Two new shoots usually come up each year. In addition, suckers grow directly from the roots of red raspberries. The new canes and suckers should be thinned immediately after harvest.

Blackberries should be pruned as soon as the harvest is completed. All wood that has produced the current crop should be removed. The berries should be trellised immediately after pruning. Put up only the larger canes and prune the small ones. Generally, no more than 9 canes should be put up on the trellis. A fan-like arrangement is the best way to trellis the vines. The fruiting wood (canes about 6–8′ long) is well spread out over the wire, put them over the top wire, wrap them around the middle wire, and then remove the tip. In coastal areas where canes are 10–12′ long, they are taken over and under the top and middle wires three or four times; this is referred to as the barrel roll. Tipping, removing the end of the canes, forces out the laterals on which fruits will be borne the following season. A cane that is not tipped will continue growing. The farther berries are from the crown of the plant, the smaller they will be. Winter pruning is done around Thanksgiving; prune to remove all laterals below the lower wire and head back the long laterals at the top of the trellis to 12–15″.

By Nancy Garrison, former Horticultural Advisor, Santa Clara County

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