Plant with black berries

Raspberries and blackberries are the leading bramble fruits. They grow on thorny canes that every kid knows as “sticker bushes.” They like warm sun and well-drained soil, with a pH 5.6 to 6.2. Growing raspberries or growing blackberries often means finding places for them along a fence, unless you have space to let them grow into a thicket and harvest from the outside; the thicket approach is definitely the way to go with June-bearing red raspberries, black raspberries, and traditional blackberries. Prickly wild brambles can be tamed by whacking back the edges of the thicket twice a year. Modern cultivated varieties such as thornless “Triple Crown” blackberry make great thickets, too. In Brown County, Ind., Keith Uridel, owner of Backyard Berry Plants organic nursery, has watched a single “Triple Crown” plant grow into a 15-foot wide thicket that’s covered with glossy black berries every summer. Best of all, when Uridel’s young daughters help with the harvest, they don’t have to watch for thorns. For more on blackberries, see Enjoy Fresh Blackberries.

Raspberries do have thorns, but that doesn’t matter much when you’re standing in your berry patch eating two raspberries for every three that make it into the picking basket. Wouldn’t it be great to have even more? By planting a few different varieties, you can have fresh berries all summer long. This was not always so! Until Cornell University breeders released the “Heritage” variety in 1969, all raspberries produced their crops in early summer on the previous year’s canes. Summer-bearing raspberries such as “Prelude” and “Lauren” are still great choices if you want a big crop of berries for freezing and canning, but why stop there? Late summer and fall-bearing varieties such as “Autumn Britten” bear fruit on new growth, with the first berries ripening just as summer-bearing brambles are done. And “Heritage” runs a few weeks later.

If you’re among the many folks who like to grow extra produce to sell or trade at your local farmers market, late summer raspberries may be just the crop you need. When Uridel takes half-pints of his mouthwatering red “Caroline” raspberries to the farmers market in August, many customers buy a half-pint for $3.50, eat it while they’re shopping, and return the basket before they head home.

Contents

More Information on Raspberries and Blackberries

Preferred soil pH for raspberries and blackberries is 5.6 to 6.2.

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View the raspberry and blackberry types chart for details on the best varieties of blueberries, plus pros and cons of each, as well as information on where they grow best.

Find raspberry and blackberry seeds and plants with our Seed and Plant Finder.

To learn how to use raspberries and blackberries in your home landscape, check out the new book Landscaping with Fruit by Lee Reich (Tower, 2009).

See also:

  • Growing Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries, Blackberries, Currants and Other Berries That Thrive Where You Live

Contributing editor Barbara Pleasant gardens in southwest Virginia, where she grows vegetables, herbs, fruits, flowers and a few lucky chickens. Contact Barbara by visiting her website or finding her on Google+.

Cooperative Extension Publications

For information about UMaine Extension programs and resources, visit extension.umaine.edu.
Find more of our publications and books at extensionpubs.umext.maine.edu.

Table of Contents:

  • Preparing the Soil
  • The Raspberry Plant
    • VIDEO: How to Grow Raspberries (YouTube)
  • Suggested Varieties
    • VIDEO: Different Varieties of Raspberries, Part 1 (YouTube)
    • VIDEO: Different Varieties of Raspberries, Part 2 (YouTube)
  • Planting and Management Systems
    • VIDEO: How to Plant Raspberries (YouTube)
  • Care and Fertilization
  • Pruning
    • VIDEO: How Do I Prune Raspberries? (YouTube)
  • Harvesting Raspberries
  • Insect and Disease Management

Raspberries and blackberries can be a most enjoyable crop for the conscientious gardener. Red raspberries are readily adaptable throughout New England, but black and purple raspberries and blackberries lack the hardiness to be grown north of well-sheltered sites in southern Maine and New Hampshire.

Selecting a Planting Site

To get the most out of your raspberry planting, choose your site carefully. Raspberries prefer full sunlight and grow best in well-drained, sandy loam soils rich in organic matter. Avoid low areas that remain wet late into the spring, but select a site with access to a water supply. Irrigation is important for good plant growth during dry periods and can improve fruit size and yield. Do not plant raspberries where tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, or eggplant have been grown within the past four years, because these crops carry a root rot called Verticillium that can also attack raspberries. Destroy all wild raspberry and blackberry plants within a distance of 600 feet of your planting site if possible, to reduce the possibility that virus diseases might be spread to your planting.

Preparing the Soil

Getting the soil ready for raspberries may take up to two years, depending on its condition. Test the soil to determine its pH and fertility levels. Raspberries prefer a soil pH of 5.6 to 6.2; acid soils may require applications of ground limestone to increase the pH. Soil testing information is available from your county Cooperative Extension office. You can improve the level of organic matter in the soil and discourage perennial weeds by sowing a cover crop such as buckwheat, rye, millet, or oats, and plowing it into the soil before it goes to seed. There should be time enough for two sowings in a single season. Applications of barnyard manure or compost and repeated tilling for a full season can be substituted for cover cropping. Be aware that animal manures may contain weed seeds that can become a problem in your planting later. In the spring of the planting year, spread 25 pounds of 10-10-10 garden fertilizer per 1,000 square feet of the planting site. Organic fertilizer sources such as compost, manures, sul-po-mag, and rock phosphate may be used in place of synthetic fertilizers. Apply enough of these materials to deliver two pounds each of nitrogen, phosphorus (P2O5) and potassium (K2O) per 1,000 square feet. Cultivate the soil several days before planting to incorporate the fertilizer and break up any clumps or clods.

The Raspberry Plant

The crowns and roots of raspberry plants are perennial, but individual canes live two years. Each spring, the plants produce canes (suckers) from buds on the crown and on underground lateral stems. These canes grow vegetatively during the first season, overwinter, and produce fruit during the summer of the second year, while new canes emerge to provide a crop for the following year. Second-year canes die shortly after fruiting. Everbearing raspberries bear a crop on the tips of first-year canes in the fall, followed by a typical summer crop on the lower portion of the canes the second year.

It’s easy to tell first-year canes from second-year canes. First-year canes have green stems, while second-year canes have a thin, brown bark covering them.

VIDEO: How to Grow Raspberries (YouTube)

Although a wide selection of raspberry varieties is available, only a few will do well under the short growing seasons and severe winters of northern New England. Select only those that are rated very hardy with early or mid-season ripening.

In general, red raspberries are the hardiest type, followed by purple raspberries, black raspberries, and blackberries. Temperatures below 5°F will injure or kill blackberry and most purple and black raspberry canes, so these should only be planted in southern parts of Maine and New Hampshire, on protected sites.

Order your plants from a reputable nursery or garden dealer. Specify disease-free, virus-indexed stock. Most raspberries are sold as dormant, one-year-old canes, but some nurseries offer plants generated by tissue culture or micropropagation. Tissue-cultured plants may be more expensive, but they are less likely to have disease problems.

Suggested Varieties

Red Raspberries

Boyne: Early ripening. Large crops of medium-sized, dark red berries with good flavor. Short, spiny canes. Very hardy.

Killarney: Ripens mid-season. Medium-sized, bright red fruit with good flavor. Short, spiny canes with many fine thorns. Very hardy.

Newburgh: Ripens mid-season. Large, round, bright red fruit with fair flavor. Good for freezing. Vigorous plants with very few thorns. Hardy.

Nova: Ripens mid-season. Medium-sized fruit, bright red, firm. Resistant to most cane diseases.

Latham: Mid-to-late ripening. Medium-large fruit, prone to crumbling, with fair flavor. Plants are vigorous with few thorns. Very hardy.

Prelude: Very early ripening, good quality fruit on vigorous canes. Hardy.

Encore: Late ripening. Large fruit of good quality, vigorous plants. Hardy.

Black Raspberries

Jewel: Mid-season ripening. Firm, glossy fruit with good flavor. Vigorous, erect plants.

Early Sweet: Early ripening, firm, glossy with good flavor. Vigorous plants.

Blackberries

Darrow: Large, glossy fruit with good flavor. Vigorous, erect plants with large thorns, but susceptible to virus.

Illini: Large fruit, vigorous plants with large thorns.

Everbearing Raspberries

August Red: Earliest ripening of everbearing types. Soft, medium-sized fruit with fair flavor. Short, spiny canes.

Autumn Bliss: Early ripening fall crop with large flavorful fruit. Canes are moderately vigorous with few thorns.

Fall Red: Early ripening fall crop, but may be too late for northern Maine and New Hampshire. Medium-small fruit, soft with good flavor. Vigorous, short, spiny canes.

Polana: Early ripening fall crop, medium-sized, good quality fruit. Vigorous plants. Maybe too late for far northern Maine and New Hampshire.

Purple Raspberries

Royalty: Late ripening. High yielding, large, round, reddish purple fruit that is soft, with good flavor. Large, vigorous canes with thorns. Susceptible to root rot.

Success: Mid-to-late ripening. Small, dark purple fruit with good flavor. High yielding. Slow spreading plants, with thorns.

VIDEO: Different Varieties of Raspberries, Part 1 (YouTube)

VIDEO: Different Varieties of Raspberries, Part 2 (YouTube)

Planting and Management Systems

Plant raspberries early in the spring after the danger of severe frost is past (late April to mid-May). Do not allow plant roots to dry out before or during planting. Plants should be set at the same depth or slightly deeper than they were in the nursery. Firm the soil around the roots and water the plants. If one-year-old canes are used, cut them back to a height of four to six inches above the ground.

Red raspberry plants are typically grown in a hedgerow. Crowns should be planted about 2 feet apart in rows that are 8 to 12 feet apart. Choose the wider spacing if you’ll be using large equipment, such as tractors, in the planting. The plants will soon send up suckers from the roots and crowns to form a hedge, which should be maintained at 12 to 18 inches wide at the base.

Purple and black raspberries and blackberries only produce suckers from the base of the crown and will not fill out a hedgerow as red raspberries do. For this reason, they are frequently grown in the hill system to get the most production out of individual plants. For this system, set plants 4 feet apart in rows 8 to 12 feet apart.

VIDEO: How to Plant Raspberries (YouTube)

All raspberries should be grown with some sort of a trellis. This will improve fruit quality, make harvesting easier, and reduce disease problems. Trellises also make pruning simpler by encouraging new cane growth in the middle of the row, rather than just along the outside edges. For plants grown in a hedgerow, the “T” or “V” trellis systems are recommended.

(Click on image to enlarge.)

Figure 1. For the T trellis, sturdy posts should be set in the row with 3½-foot-long cross arms affixed at a height of 3½ to 4½ feet. The posts should be set at least two feet deep in the ground and anchored at each end of the row. Secure heavy-gauge wire along the length of the row on each side of the cross arms.Figure 2. For the V trellis, two posts should be set at each end of the row at about a 30-degree angle so that they are 3½ feet apart at a height of 3½ feet. Run the wire from each post at 3½ feet. After pruning, tie the fruiting canes to the wires on each side.Figure 3. For black and purple raspberries and blackberries grown using the hill system, set a sturdy post next to each plant (four feet apart in the row). A wire can be run along all the posts in the row, about 4½ feet above the ground. The fruiting branches of each plant should be spread along the wire, or the canes of each plant can simply be tied to the post next to them.

Care and Fertilization

Keep the planting completely free from weeds with shallow cultivation and hand pulling as necessary. Make sure the plants receive one to two inches of water a week for best growth. Mulch can be used to reduce weed problems within the plant rows and also to help retain soil moisture and add valuable organic matter. Spread wood chips, bark, pine needles, or rotted leaf mulch over the plant rows, and maintain it at a depth of three to four inches.

Starting the second year of the planting, a cover crop may be planted between the rows. Sow an annual cover crop, such as spring oats, just after harvest. The oats will help harden off the raspberry plants for winter by using up excess water and nutrients in the soil, and will also reduce weed growth. Oats will be killed by low winter temperatures, and the dead sod cover will reduce soil erosion in the spring.

A permanent cover crop may also be sown following harvest the second year. Sow a noncompetitive grass cover, such as a bluegrass-fescue mix, between the plant rows. Take care to prevent grass from spreading to within a foot of the raspberry plants, or it will compete with the raspberries for water and nutrients. Permanent sod covers allow easy access in the raspberry planting, prevent soil erosion and weed growth, and can be easily maintained by regular mowing.

Raspberries should be fertilized each year in the early spring (mid-April). Apply 20 pounds of 10-10-10 (or organic equivalents) per 1,000 square feet of the planting. Increase the rate to 25 pounds if a heavy mulch is being used.

It is best to split the application, applying half of the recommended amount in mid-April and the second half four to six weeks later.

Pruning

Pruning is a vital part of maintaining a healthy raspberry planting. This practice greatly inhibits the spread of raspberry diseases and improves fruit quality and yield. During the summer months, regularly remove all new canes that emerge outside the desired plant row width of 12 to 18 inches. This improves light penetration and air circulation for the canes in the middle row that will fruit next year. Also, remove any canes that show obvious signs of insect or disease injury. In the late winter or early spring, before the buds break, remove all of the old canes that fruited the previous year. These have gray, peeling bark and branches (they are dead and won’t fruit again). Again, remove canes that have emerged outside of the desired 12- to 18-inch row width. Maintaining this narrow row width will assure adequate light penetration and air circulation to promote healthy cane growth and reduce disease problems. Only the most vigorous canes, those with the greatest height and basal diameter, should be left in the row. Continue thinning until only four to five canes per foot of row length remain. These remaining canes should be attached to the trellis wires with twine. Finally, remove all of the plant waste from the field. Plant waste can harbor diseases and insects that may attack healthy canes.

Everbearing or fall-bearing red raspberries bear a late-season crop on first-year canes. If they are pruned in the same manner as the summer-bearing types, they will bear two crops per season; one in the summer on the second-year canes, and one in the fall on the first-year canes.

Everbearing raspberries can also be managed to produce only the fall crop. Simply mow all the canes down early each spring. During the summer, cut down any new canes that develop outside the 12- to 18-inch row width and thin the remaining canes to about six inches apart, leaving the sturdiest. This technique greatly reduces pruning labor but also eliminates the summer crop. Unfortunately, most everbearing cultivars, such as Heritage, produce the fall crop too late in the season to escape damage from frost in most of northern New England.

Blackberries should have the growing tips of the new canes pinched off when they reach four feet. This encourages the canes to form side branches, or laterals, which will bear the fruit in the following year. Remove all canes that fruited following the harvest. In the early spring, thin the remaining canes, leaving only five to seven of the sturdiest per hill. Cut the side branches back to 12 buds (usually about 12 inches in length) and tie the canes to the wire or post for support.

Remove all plant waste from the field after pruning and destroy it, preferably by burning. Leaving dead canes in the planting will encourage the spread of diseases.

VIDEO: How Do I Prune Raspberries? (YouTube)

Harvesting Raspberries

Raspberries are ready to pick when they easily separate from the receptacle or core. Blackberries do not separate from the core, so ripeness should be judged by color and taste.

All bramble fruit is extremely perishable and should be harvested frequently. To maintain fresh quality, place the fruit in shallow containers, no more than three berries deep, and cool the fruit to 33°F as quickly as possible. Fruit properly harvested and held at this temperature can maintain fresh quality for three to seven days. If the fruit is to be made into jam or jelly, process it immediately, or freeze it until ready to use.

Insect and Disease Management

A well-kept raspberry planting can provide fruit for 10 to 20 years, but weeds, viruses, fungi, and several types of insects can greatly reduce yield and may destroy the planting if they are not controlled. Many problems can be prevented by proper planning and care.

Select only raspberry cultivars that are very hardy and plants that are certified virus-free. If possible, destroy all wild brambles within 600 feet of the planting. Encourage good air circulation by having at least 8 feet between your plant rows and keeping the hedges to a 12- to 18-inch width. Prune your plants regularly to promote healthy new growth and reduce the spread of diseases. Keep the planting weed-free to discourage insect pests and prevent competition for water and nutrients.

For specific pest identification and management techniques, contact your University of Maine Cooperative Extension County Office.

Information in this publication is provided purely for educational purposes. No responsibility is assumed for any problems associated with the use of products or services mentioned. No endorsement of products or companies is intended, nor is criticism of unnamed products or companies implied.

© 1990, 2006

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Berry Growing Guide

PREPARE

Select your berries:

There are a variety of berries to choose from. Plant berries you like to eat and use in your cooking.

  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Boysenberries
  • Blackberries
  • Gooseberries
  • Cranberries
  • Currants – red, black and white

For information on how to grow strawberries view the Tui Strawberry Growing Guide.

When to plant berries

  • Blueberries – plant all year round. Plant more than one plant, this aids cross pollination and increases yield.
  • Raspberries, boysenberries, blackberries and gooseberries can be planted in winter or spring.
  • Currants and cranberries: plant all year round.

PLANT

Berries require a position in full sun to thrive – no sun equals little or no flavour.

Choose a position for taller berries such as raspberries, boysenberries and blackberries 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 sheep pellets and 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.

Berries for pots and containers

Berries adapt to life in containers easily. Choose a large container or barrel, at least three to four times the size of a kitchen bucket. Berries need plenty of room for the roots to develop to enable themselves to support the fruiting stems. Fill container with Tui Strawberry Mix.

The trick is to keep the soil moist not too wet while the fruit is developing. Inconsistent watering is a common cause of crop failure.

Container ideas:

  • Plant taller berries like boysenberry, raspberry or loganberry in the centre of a wine barrel.
  • Plant low growing berries like cranberries around the outside of the taller berries, these will hang over the edges and fill in the gaps.
  • Plant edible flowers like calendula, violets and nasturtiums with your berries to add some colour and interest.

NOURISH

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 raspberries, boysenberries, gooseberries, blackberries and currants with Tui Strawberry Food in spring and autumn.
  • Blueberries and cranberries prefer slightly acidic fertiliser, so use Tui Citrus Food or Tui Acid Food on these in spring.
  • For berries grown in containers use Tui NovaTec Premium fertiliser.

Protect

The weather, weeds, pest insects and diseases can all impact on the success of your garden.

Protect your plants from the elements with layers of Tui Strawberry Straw, to help keep their roots moist, and to keep fruit off the soil so it doesn’t rot.

Birds love juicy berries – put up netting to protect yours once they start fruiting.

Growing berries from cuttings

Some berries are quick and easy to propagate from cuttings, unfortunately blueberries aren’t one of them.

  • For winter dormant berries like gooseberries and currants, take 20cm long cuttings and insert into potting mix or soil at least half way, and leave them alone for about 3 months.
  • Once leaves start sprouting in spring, cuttings can be transplanted into the garden.
  • Raspberries, boysenberries and blackberries are quick to grow from cuttings. Take 10-15cm long cuttings in summer and autumn, insert into moist potting mix or soil so at least half the cutting is in the ground.
  • Roots will appear within a few months. Transplant into the garden or containers in autumn or spring.

Pruning berries

  • Blueberries: prune in late summer or autumn after fruiting.
  • Raspberries: prune in winter to remove old wood, keeping 6-8 new seasons canes for the current season’s crop.
  • Boysenberries: prune to shape and limit size as required, fruit on current season’s wood.
  • Blackberries: prune in late summer or autumn after fruiting.
  • Gooseberries: prune in winter to thin out the excess branches.
  • Cranberries: not a lot of pruning required, these ground hugging plants can be pruned to limit size where required.
  • Currants: prune after harvest in summer.
  1. Walter Reeves The Georgia Gardener says:

    I believe it’s black nightshade

    see http://www.walterreeves.com/gardening-q-and-a/black-nightshade-poisonous/

    August 20th, 2012 at 9:02 am

  2. edyb Unregistered says:

    Thanks. Did a bit more research. Likely to be “solanum ptychanthum” or Eastern Black Nightshade, also known as West Indian Nightshade. The ripe berries are NOT poisonous, but contain solanine which if taken in too high doses can upset the stomach.

    NOT to be confused with “atropa belladonna” which is Deadly Nightshade. They do look different. The flowers and the arrangement of berries look different, and that plant is very poisonous.

    I had 3 of the ripe dark purple/black berries yesterday and they tasted ok. I am still alive and feel fine. However I did my research and consulted many resources to correctly identify the plant, including your website which is excellent!

    Here is another good summary:

    August 25th, 2012 at 2:19 pm

  3. Pete Moss Unregistered says:

    edyb, just thought your comment was a bit ambiguous in regards to the toxicity of solanine. Just to clarify: solanine can cause more than stomach upsets – it’s potentially fatal. While i’m not personally acquainted with Solanum ptychanthum, i am experienced with other nightshade species which contain variable levels of solanine in: ripe berries, unripe berries and leaves. And solanine in nightshades can reach toxic levels and there have been cases of fatal poisoning from nightshades. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solanine

    June 27th, 2013 at 11:51 pm

  4. Arthur Haines Unregistered says:

    As has been stated, this is a species of Solanum in the “black nightshade complex”. It is likely Solanum ptycanthum, but hard to know for sure without examining the actual plant. The berries are not poisonous, they are edible and species in the group are eaten around the world (I’ve personally eaten them many times and in quantity). The problem is that the toxicity (i.e., danger) of wild plants is highly exaggerated and often the reports are just flat out incorrect. The young leaves of this plant are also edible (but because this is a “nightshade”, authors assume it to be poisonous). Best wishes.

    July 11th, 2013 at 11:12 am

  5. GDI Unregistered says:

    I recently found this in my backyard in Houston, Texas. I have never seen it before, a bird must have eaten a berry and out it eventually comes and the seeds came alive!

    October 13th, 2014 at 7:08 pm

  6. Lee Phillips Unregistered says:

    I recommended if its near your tomatoes to move it because its a great plant for birds they really do love the berries on the plant. If you like birds its a great feeder plant and they will visit just for those berries. It can make cats and dogs sick if ingested and we can handle the berries a bit better but still can harm us too. I keep mine because the birds as my cat is indoors but its not a highly toxic form of nightshade.

    May 21st, 2015 at 5:19 pm

  7. MaryG Unregistered says:

    There is a commercially available berry in this family called Sunberry or Wonderberry. Luther (?) Burbank was the discoverer/cultivator, and the Latin name I believe includes Burbankii as part of the name. They are very elible, though so small that I’m not sure they are worth cultivating. I agree with Lee that the birds love them. They are a good distraction from other plants and a way to get the birds near the tomatos to spot the occasional hornworm. These readily reseed, so if you are trying to get rid of them, plan to pull up seedlings for a year or two to come.

    July 7th, 2015 at 7:29 am

  8. Cyd Peace Unregistered says:

    Just like the opening – I found these plants today behind my tomatoes. Thanks for all the info. I’ve eaten several. The flavor is sweet but definitely different. Even a tad spicy. I’d like to try putting them in a recipe of some kind. See you in the morning (maybe) 🙂

    August 21st, 2015 at 2:54 am

  9. Joan Unregistered says:

    Thanks — good looking berries, but I’ll toss rather than eat.

    August 21st, 2015 at 5:39 pm

  10. Cyd Peace Unregistered says:

    Still alive!

    August 22nd, 2015 at 12:32 am

  11. jane gullan Unregistered says:

    found exactly the same plant in my greenhouse next to my tomatoes,how did it get there? never had this mystery plant before.

    September 7th, 2015 at 11:59 am

  12. Joyce Unregistered says:

    Found this plant in my garden. I grew up knowing it but have forgotten the name. The birds fill my garden and I love it. I used the berries to paint. I have never eaten it, but I know people who eat them. Beautiful plant.

    May 9th, 2016 at 7:23 pm

  13. Sharon Unregistered says:

    I also get that vine with the berries on it It over takes every thing what’s the best way to get rid of it so it don’t grow back

    July 19th, 2016 at 5:02 am

  14. Jane McCarthy Unregistered says:

    I had an empty planter where tomatoes grew previously and this plant started to grow. At first I thought it was a tomato plant because of the similar little berries but when they ripened I was very confused! I haven’t eaten any and I don’t plan to, but it’s weird how this got in the planter and grew on its own.

    July 25th, 2016 at 5:13 pm

  15. Iris H. Unregistered says:

    Does this plant cause skin irritations if brushed up against- like poison ivy, oak, etc.?

    September 9th, 2016 at 8:41 am

  16. Nikki Unregistered says:

    Found this plant in my garden, seems to have grown from between paving slabs, no other plants grow in that area of the garden, I was very concerned, as I have never seen a plant like this before and have four dogs that like to eat plants, I would not eat anything that grows wild if I was unsure of what it was and so the plant has been removed. Hopefully it won’t grow back.

    September 11th, 2016 at 6:57 am

  17. Margaret Unregistered says:

    We noticed this plant in our community garden. I, of course, ate a berry. As reported by Cyd, the berries are sweetish. It’s a funny family, the nightshades. Some are fine and some are a very bad idea. Like others have mentioned, we never had it in the garden before although we have many tomatoes. Nor have I just seen it around here in Albuquerque. Any thoughts on where it might suddenly have come from???
    Thanks.

    September 24th, 2016 at 7:52 pm

  18. Mel Nickless Unregistered says:

    Found this in our beds next to ourt tomatoes hoe did it get there ?

    October 2nd, 2016 at 9:39 am

  19. P Unregistered says:

    I’m one of 8 kids & we grew up eating these berries for years. We lived on a farm & collected so many of them at one stage that my mum made them into a pie for us! None of us ever got sick from eating them. I have them in my current garden & actually leave them there for the ladybugs which LOVE them! 🙂

    October 3rd, 2016 at 8:08 am

  20. Akashe Unregistered says:

    I just found these cute little berries under the goat water. They must be the Wonderberry. I had tried to grow them from seeds a couple years ago. Tasty little bursts of sweet and a smigen of tart! They are a wonderful surprise in your mouth.

    December 3rd, 2016 at 4:02 pm

  21. Jess Titus Unregistered says:

    I mistakenly cultivated them, but I’m ‘forbidden’ from eating them because my mother thinks they are going to kill me.

    February 5th, 2017 at 5:11 pm

  22. Marsha Unregistered says:

    I have this plant growing in my yard. The leaves are covered with Milkweed Assassin bugs.

    April 26th, 2017 at 5:56 pm

  23. Helen Unregistered says:

    I just found it around the side of the house (paved area, not garden) like others, never seen before. Im from Adelaide South Australia! Weeds are weeds anywhere in the world!

    May 6th, 2017 at 3:13 am

  24. Marie Unregistered says:

    I’ve been trying to figure out the name of these berries for a while now. I grew up eating them during the 70s-80s. They always grew around our garden. We would make them into jam – very yummy. We never ate the green berries, which is probably why I’m still alive and kicking. 🙂

    June 1st, 2017 at 4:28 pm

  25. Gloria Unregistered says:

    Thanks for the info everyone. Here in San Clemente, CA it also just popped up. Interesting reading, my new quandary, now that I know what it is, is do I yank it out or leave it for the birds.

    July 11th, 2017 at 10:44 pm

  26. Baz Unregistered says:

    I let one of these plants grow in my herb garden. it got huge and started putting off all these berries. I ate the greens (tasted good, a little like kale but slightly tart) and the berries, both green and ripe. Still alive, did not get sick or experience any symptoms. Still trying to find the name for it. Maybe these are Wonderberries?

    August 11th, 2017 at 7:54 pm

  27. Jo Unregistered says:

    I have been wondering what this plant is for a while now! I originally thought it was chokeberry but the leaves didn’t match. I bought this at a fundraiser plant sale and lost the name tag! I’ve picked them over the summer and strained them (so many seeds) and made a juice which I added to some orange juice. I even joked that it might be a “super” berry! Well, no has become sick or died (phew!), but I have noticed piles of poop around my house from raccoons with those berries in them. They look just like they came off the tree! Will they be harmful to them? Oh, I’m in the Toronto area.

    September 29th, 2017 at 2:37 pm

  28. L L Unregistered says:

    I found a bush in the kids school garden, it was so pretty. I pulled it out today to be safe replanted at home in a pot. I’ve been looking for information on this plant. Wish me luck. Thanks for sharing all these comments. So ultimately NOT poisonous- Is that the last word?

    February 10th, 2018 at 7:28 pm

  29. NM Unregistered says:

    This plant is called the manathakkali plant in India. I have grown up eating this and is considered very healthy both fruit and leaves.you can Google this and see if interested. It is considered medicinal for many small ailme nts. It was a surprise that this grows so abundantly here I’m the US. Found it in garden as well.

    August 7th, 2018 at 9:08 pm

  30. christina walford Unregistered says:

    I have this in my green house it is taking over at least 2 mtrs high and is also in with the tomatoes have never seen any around our area I live in the Midland England glad to find out what it is thanks for the photos

    August 18th, 2018 at 3:18 pm

  31. Jane Unregistered says:

    Does this plant cause an itchy rash? I pulled up mine after reading about it on this website. Bagged it and threw in the trash. The only thing I have done differently recently is handle this plant without washing my hands after. Now I have a rash on that hand, my face and neck and other arm. It is taking its time going away.

    August 22nd, 2018 at 11:12 pm

  32. Ann Unregistered says:

    I just found these next to where Tomatoes were growing last year in Nebraska …when I Googled it it said huckleberries but now I found this page and so I’m still not knowing what I should do with them …they’re beautiful berries but don’t think I will be making any jelly….

    August 26th, 2018 at 4:07 pm

  33. Rich Unregistered says:

    Growing tomatoes and chilli and sweet peppers.
    Gloucester UK
    These are similar to the chilli until they start to fruit.
    Regrettable , but I binned them because they may get into the compost and then who knows what I have in the greenhouse

    August 27th, 2018 at 11:22 am

  34. Tammy Unregistered says:

    I grew up (in Cleveland,Oh) & whenever we’d come across anything with berries that weren’t grapes, blackberries or strawberries, my mom would say that they were poisonous. So when I found it over my yard & even growing in cracks beside my house where there’s no greenery, I assumed they were poisonous. It wasn’t until I looked it up & saw this post that I find out they’re not poisonous (to humans). But I have 2 dogs & 1 eats plants. Hence why despite the 90°+ temps today, I’ll be digging up each & every one. But I think I’ll taste one too.

    September 2nd, 2018 at 10:56 am

  35. Boots Unregistered says:

    Not sure if anyone still looks here, but for anyone who does the plant pictured is Blackberry Nightshade. It is edible – berries and leaves – though there is some indication the green berries are poisonous. The black berries taste like tiny, herbaceous tomatoes with a slight hint of sweetness. The leaves are quite bitter but taste pretty good cooked.

    It grows just about everywhere in Australia and I leave it in my garden because here in Victoria where I live the native bees LOVE it. It can be quite lovely too if you give it even the slightest bit of care. Gets plump and happy with lots of healthy green foliage.

    For those who consider it a weed I encourage you to rethink your relationship with it and perhaps leave it there for the bees and other pollinators. Or eat it yourself.

    February 20th, 2019 at 2:34 am

  36. Lisa Unregistered says:

    I live in Florida and have this plant growing wild in my yard. I had never seen it before, so thank you for helping me identify it.

    April 7th, 2019 at 9:22 am

  37. Rakesh Ranjan Unregistered says:

    They are totally edible , i always eat those small black berries
    Whenever I visit my hometown ….they are like small tomatoes…and very tasty

    May 19th, 2019 at 7:26 am

  38. Sharanya Eshwaran Unregistered says:

    I’m not sure the English name or scientific name. In South India it’s called “Sukkuti”. The fruits are edible and leaves can be used for curry. It’s a medicinal plant, the curry is used to cure throat infection. It’s good for bronchitis patients.

    August 6th, 2019 at 12:18 am

  39. Rita Drobny Unregistered says:

    I grew up in Nebraska eating jam made from these berries. We called them ‘dewberries’.
    After I married I was excited to find some plants on our property and made a batch of jam. When my father-in-law- found out, he was SO upset, saying that I was poisoning them!

    August 15th, 2019 at 12:44 pm

  40. Melissa R Baier Unregistered says:

    Those are what the Volga Germans call a schwartzbeeren (black berry). They are edible and they make the most wonderful pies and pastries!!!

    August 24th, 2019 at 7:37 pm

  41. Lisa Russell Unregistered says:

    Yes, I am the latest addition to the list of unwitting, but successful growers of this plant. I pulled the plant out today as it seemed that the birds were eating it, I was afraid that it could be hazardous. Clearly it is a good season for this plant, which starts off appearing as a weak, buff leaved pepper/ chilli plant. Grateful to find out what it was, but not chancing eating it. Thanks all and we shall await next year’s mystery plant.

    September 11th, 2019 at 11:05 am

  42. Denise Unregistered says:

    They look like the “blackberries” (not at all like t1e blackberries at the store) I grew up eating. Many people with my heritage call them “Schwartzbeeren” (see https://kitchenproject.com/german/recipes/Dumplings/Schwartzberra-Knebble/index.htm). They are from the nightshade family (not Wonderberries) and like their cousin the tomato, do not eat them green, just wait until they ripen to a dark black, shiny plump color and they will practically fall off the plant into your hand! They are full of seeds and will turn green if frozen so best used fresh. They are not a sweet berry and can be used anywhere tart cherries with added sugar are used (think pies, jam/jelly, or what we call Kuga – some people call it Kuchen). Birds and rabbits are mostly how the seeds are spread. We are moving and I’m desperately trying to save some in a bucket from our old house just to get some seeds to plant in our new house. They are a heritage, non-GMO plant as far as I can tell, so worth saving. We’ve never had a rush from the leaves nor have we eaten the leaves. Enjoy if you have them and if you have extra, offer the seeds on nearly any Volga German website and people will generally ask for them since the only way to get them current is from someone who got them from their parent/ grandparent/ great-grandparent.

    September 14th, 2019 at 12:52 am

  43. Melinda Lennen. Unregistered says:

    I have some of these plants, and pick and eat some every fruit every day.
    They are soo yummy.
    It takes ages to get enough to make any condiments. I have about 400grams in the freezer, and picking every day.
    I live in Mareeba, Nth QLD.
    If anyone wants them to make jam, etc. You can have them with my love. I would like a small jar of what you make, please. Incidentally they also came up with my tomatoes.

    November 5th, 2019 at 2:54 am

  44. Mommy Unregistered says:

    I found this plant growing next to my rose bushes in Houston, Texas. I am concerned my dog might eat it. What keeps them from growing back?

    December 31st, 2019 at 9:23 am

What kind of shrub or bush is this, black berries, elongated leaves?

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Blackberries are easy to grow. A diverse array of blackberry varieties are native to almost all of North America. They are especially abundant in areas with warm summer days, cool nights, and plenty of moisture.

Travis Juntara / Flickr (Creative Commons)

An aggregate fruit composed of many tiny fruits known as drupes, blackberries are similar in taste and growth habit to raspberries. Blackberries bloom in profusion beginning in late June. The fruit is ripe by mid-July.

The flavor of blackberries is dark and rich with a unique combination of tart and sweet for a delicious summer treat. Blackberries are perfect as a topping for ice cream, added to desserts or smoothies, or preserved as jam or jelly to enjoy throughout the year. For each cup of crushed blackberries gathered from the home garden, you will end up with a half-pint of jam, jelly or syrup.

Grow Blackberries For Profit

The goal of both rural and urban homesteaders is to develop self-sufficiency by growing our own fruits and vegetables.

If properly planted and managed, a blackberry patch can produce an abundance of fresh and flavorful berries; more than enough for canning, preserving, sharing with family and friends, and selling at the farmer’s market.

Just three or four blackberry plants will more than supply the needs of a family of four. Commercial growers can anticipate a yield of 6,000 pounds per season from a well-managed one-acre blackberry bramble.

Types Of Blackberries

Divided into three main groups, blackberries are distinguished by a difference in the growth habit of their canes: trailing, semi-erect, and erect. The difference between raspberries and blackberries is whether the fruit retains its white core. With blackberries, the receptacle or core stays with the plant. With raspberries, the core stays with the fruit.

An abundant blackberry crop that is easier to harvest on the Rotating Cross-Arm Trellis. Fumiomi Takeda, ARS, via USDA

Blackberries have a perennial root system with biennial canes. The new shoots, known as primocanes, develop during the first growing season. The primocanes are retained through the winter. During the second year of growing, primocanes are referred to as floricanes. As the floricanes mature, they bloom, bear fruit, and then die off after flowering. Read this excellent primer from Colorado State University for more information.

Training Blackberries

Training blackberries produce vigorous primocanes from the crown of the plant rather than roots. Second-year floricanes produce long shaped fruit with relatively small seeds and a highly aromatic, intense flavor. They are not hardy in northern climates, experiencing damage at temperatures of 13 degrees Fahrenheit in mid winter, and in the 20 degree Fahrenheit range in late winter and early spring.

Erect Blackberries

This type of blackberries has stiff arching canes that are somewhat self-supporting. However, they are much easier to handle when trellised and pruned. Summer prune or tip primocanes to encourage branching and increase fruit production on the second-year floricanes. Plants can become invasive to an area as it can produce new primocanes (suckers) from the roots.

Erect blackberries which produce fruit with relatively large seeds. Flavor and aroma are not considered as intense as in the training blackberry cultivars. They are semi-hardy in climates with rapid springtime temperature shifts, like Colorado.

Primocane-fruiting cultivars of erect blackberries produce fruit on the new canes. This makes management easier as the canes can be cut to the ground each winter.

Semi-Erect Blackberries

Semi-erect blackberry plants are thornless and produce vigorous, thick, erect canes from the crown. No primocanes are produced from the roots. Prune primocanes in the summer to encourage branching and increase fruit production on floricanes. A trellis is required to support the canes. Semi-erect blackberries generally produce a higher yield than trailing or erect types. Fruit quality is similar to that of the erect blackberries.

Blackberry/Red Raspberry Hybrids

These are generally natural crosses between blackberries and raspberries. Because the receptacle (white core) comes off with the fruit, they are generally considered a type of blackberry. Popular cultivars include Boysen (Boysenberry), Logan (Loganberry), and Tay (Tayberry).

For most homesteaders, orderly rows of blackberry bushes present the easiest harvesting opportunities. However, you can cultivate blackberries mixed with other fruit-bearing shrubs.

Best Varieties Of Thornless Blackberries For Homestead Cultivation

  • Apache – This variety, developed by the University of Arkansas, produces large conical fruit with excellent quality and flavor. Apache ripens mid-July with high production. Sunburn can be an issue after rain. Erect, sturdy canes are self-supporting. Canes are vigorous and prolific: fruit is well presented for picking. Apache is resistant to orange rust and winter hardiness is similar to other thornless varieties.
  • Arapaho – Another variety developed at the University of Arkansas dependably produces medium sized, firm and flavorful berries with smaller seeds than most varieties. Arapaho produces berries early in the season for a concentrated harvest. Canes are vigorous and erect with reported good hardiness.
  • Black Satin – A late ripening variety developed by the United States Department of Agriculture, Black Satin produces a large, firm, dull blackberry with a tart taste. A vigorous producer, Black Stain is one of the most winter hardy varieties available. Because the berries remain firm after picking with little breakdown, it transports well to sell at farmer’s markets.

Site And Soil Preparation For Blackberries

Blackberries do not grow well in heavy clay soils. Compacted soil makes it difficult for the roots to spread out and grow, and clay soil does not drain well. Blackberries will not grow in areas that collect standing water when it rains.

Choose the site for your blackberry bramble the year before planting. Blackberries should not be cultivated in soil that has previously grown tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers, strawberries, or any other type of berry bush or bramble.

Break up the soil well, incorporating two parts organic garden compost or aged herbivore manure (e.g. poultry, sheep, goat, cow, horse, or lama) and one part sand. When mixed with topsoil, organic compost and manure work wonders with water, allowing good drainage through compacted heavy soil while it retains moisture in sandy soil.

Blackberry bushes do best in nutrient-rich, loamy, well-drained soil in a full sun location. Soil with a pH of 6.5-6.8 is ideal.

Because a blackberry patch, once established, will produce for more than 30 years, it is important to make sure that the soil in the space allocated for blackberries provides the necessary growing requirements. Take a sample of the soil to your local county extension office for testing or pH level soil test kits are available for purchase from local home and garden centers.

Blackberries for sale at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farmers Market in July 2016. Lance Cheung / USDA

Make sure compost and manure are well worked into the soil, Rake the ground, breaking up dirt clods and removing rocks, weeds, and debris. You will want to give your blackberry bushes the best start possible, so it is worth it to put extra effort into preparing the patch.

Planting Blackberries

  • Remove blackberry bushes from packaging, trimming off any broken or damaged roots.
  • Soak the roots in water for 6-8 hours. Protect roots from direct sun exposure until they are planted. Blackberries exhibit a high mortality rate when roots are exposed to sunlight during the planting process.
  • Dig holes twice as wide and deep as the blackberry root mass. Spread the roots out in the planting hole, fill with soil and water well. Blackberries require two inches of water a week. Blackberry roots are quite shallow, so do not allow the surface soil to dry out completely between water applications.
  • Plant young blackberry bushes in rows spaced 2-4 feet apart. Rows should be spaced from 5-8 feet apart for ease of harvesting. Unless you are planting blackberries as a living fence, most experienced blackberry growers highly suggest choosing a thorn-free variety of blackberries for ease of cultivation, pruning, and harvesting.
  • Mulch heavily around the base of each blackberry bush to help retain soil moisture, control weeds, and increase fruit yield. Use straw, pine bark, grass clippings, or untreated sawdust or wood chips.

Companion Planting For Blackberries

Companion planting, or the gardening practice of locating plants close to each other that benefit each other, helps boost fruit yield when cultivating blackberries. Low-growing groundcover plants, including any variety of mint, lemon balm, bee balm, hyssop, borage, thyme, or chives, are excellent companion plants for blackberries.

They attract bees for pollination and help repel foliage and fruit predators, keeping beetles and mice away from your blackberry crop. Planting beans or peas near the base of blackberry bushes helps impart nitrogen into the soil of the blackberry patch. Tansy, blueberries, and rue are also excellent plant companions for blackberries.

Blackberry Variety Review, Cornell University

Making Jams And Jellies, National Center For Home Food Preparation

Growing Blackberries In Colorado, Colorado State University

Growing Blackberries In Missouri, Missouri State University

Growing Blackberries And Raspberries In Kentucky, University of Kentucky

Growing Blackberries For Profit, Gardens All

Growing Blackberries In Your Home Garden, Oregon State University

Blackberry bushes are fairly easy to grow and are well worth the reward! Some blackberry bushes grow very tall and will require a trellis to help support the height. Blackberry bushes will continue to give fruit year after year, however it usually takes 2 years for the plant to first produce berries. You can cut any canes that produce fruit at the base after the season is over since they won’t produce again.

How to Grow:

It is best to plant blackberry bushes after your last spring frost or 8 weeks before your first fall frost. You can see specific dates for your location using our FREE iOS, Android, and Universal Web App.

Blackberry bushes are planted fairly shallow, about only an inch deeper than the pot they are transplanted from. It is not common to plant these within a square foot garden, but if it is kept trimmed, you can plant it with at least 2 square feet. Blackberry bushes will need a trellis that is in the full sun to thrive. Take care to notice what plants are around the area as well, see the companion plant section below. Water weekly.

Companion Plants:

Companion planting is a vital part of organic gardening. Companion plants assist in the growth of others by attracting beneficial insects, repelling pests, or providing nutrients, shade, or support. There are also plants that do not like being next to each other. Some plants get too tall and can provide too much shade for your plant. Sometimes certain plants attract the same pests, so it is important to try and separate these. Herbs are especially great companion plants because they help to repel pests from your other plants!

Blackberry companions

Welcome to Permies, Matt.
I wouldn’t worry about nitrogen-fixing bacteria hosts, honestly. If you provide too much nitrogen, all you get is excessive branching at the expense of fruiting.
Most suggestions for blackberry companion plants are pollinator support plants like bee balm, borage, chives, and mint. To this, I would add mulberry trees, mostly because of the fact that they can bloom for three months straight. The more pollinator food and habitat, the more pollinators, and the more fruit your efforts will yield.
Literally, just look at the different trophic levels present, or the spaces available, and pick one plant for each niche. Put shade-lovers in the shade of taller plants, and sun-lovers out front.
I would make sure that you have sufficient organic matter in and on top of your soil, and then make up some fungal slurry and apply it around your berries and shrubs. Just the ends of culinary mushrooms, whole culinary mushrooms, or whatever random ground-growing mushrooms you find in wild spaces adjacent to your property, should there be any, will do, thrown into a blender with water and blended up. The fungi in the soil will act to move nutrients and minerals to where they’re needed.
More information than anyone can easily digest is available in this wiki of Dr. Redhawk’s Epic soil threads. Most pertinent in this case is any mention of fungal slurries and oxygenated compost extracts.
We are happy to welcome another into the fold. Pictures are always appreciated. Keep us posted, and good luck!
-CK

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