Where do boysenberries grow?

Boysenberry Plant Info – Tips On Growing A Boysenberry Plant

If you love raspberries, blackberries and loganberries, then try growing a boysenberry, a combination of all three. How do you grow boysenberries? Read on to find out about growing a boysenberry, its care, and other boysenberry plant info.

What is a Boysenberry?

What’s a boysenberry? As mentioned, it’s an amazing hybrid berry comprised of a mix of raspberries, blackberries and loganberries, which in themselves are a mix of raspberries and blackberries. A vining perennial in USDA zones 5-9, boysenberries are eaten fresh or made into juice or preserves.

Boysenberries look much akin to an elongated blackberry and, like blackberries, have a dark purple color and a sweet flavor with a hint of tartness.

Boysenberry Plant Info

Boysenberries (Rubus ursinus × R. idaeus) are named after their creator, Rudolph Boysen. Boysen created the hybrid, but it was Walter Knott of Knott’s Berry Farm’s amusement park fame, who launched the berry to popularity after his wife began making the fruit into preserves in 1932.

By 1940, there were 599 acres (242 ha.) of California land dedicated to cultivating boysenberries. Cultivation trailed off during WWII, but peaked again in the 1950’s. By the 1960’s, boysenberries fell out of favor due to their susceptibility to fungal diseases, difficulty in shipping from their delicate nature, and general high maintenance.

Today, most fresh boysenberries can be found at small local farmers markets or in the form of preserves from berries grown primarily in Oregon. New Zealand is the largest producer and exporter of the berry. Boysenberries are high in vitamin C, folate and manganese and contain quite a bit of fiber.

How to Grow Boysenberries

When growing a boysenberry plant, select a site in full sun with well-draining, sandy loam soil that has a pH of 5.8-6.5. Don’t select a site where tomatoes, eggplant, or potatoes have been grown, however, as they may have left behind the soil borne verticillium wilt.

Place the boysenberry in the hole with the crown of the plant 2 inches (5 cm.) below the soil line, spreading the roots out in the hole. Fill the hole back in and pack the soil firmly around the roots. Water the plants in well.

Boysenberry Care

As the plant matures, it will need support. A three wire trellis or the like will do nicely. For a three wire support, space the wire 2 feet (61 cm.) apart.

Keep the plants evenly moist, but not wet; water at the base of the plant rather than overhead to avoid leaf disease and fruit rot.

Feed boysenberries with a 20-20-20 application of fertilizer in the early spring as new growth appears. Fish meal and blood meal are also excellent nutrient sources.

What Does a Boysenberry Tree Look Like?

A cross between a blackberry, raspberry and loganberry, the boysenberry grows on woody canes with large, abundant thorns. According to Garden Guides, the leaves of boysenberry foliage are a bluish-green color, and they are smooth on the surface with serrated edges. When growing in the wild, boysenberries typically grow in thick tangles, and they are considered an invasive species in many areas of the United States.

Garden Guides explains that the flowers of the boysenberry are white, with five petals and a burst of stamen and pistils in the center of the flower. Flowers typically begin showing in early spring in most parts of the United States. Boysenberries are a self-pollinating fruit, meaning they have both the male and female reproductive parts present on the flower, states Garden Guides.

Once flowers fade, boysenberries are identifiable by their fruit, which grows in an aggregate of drupelets around a large central seed. Before ripening, boysenberries are green in color and hard. The fruit grows to about 1 inch in length. Once ripening begins, the berries soften and change colors. Based on the variety, boysenberries can range from a reddish-purple color to nearly black. Because boysenberries have such pervasive thorns, it is important to wear gloves and protective clothing when working with them.

Boysenberries: A cane that’s able

On a sunny day in early February, I revisited Cannard Farm in Glen Ellen, Calif., and was given a tour by its owner, Bob Cannard. I pay attention to what Bob grows because for decades he has supplied veggies to a most discriminating customer — Alice Waters’s famous restaurant Chez Panisse. On this trip, I got an unexpected tutorial about boysenberries, a special California treat that can be grown in the East.

The origin of the boysenberry is a bit mysterious, but it was made famous by Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park in 1934. A cross between a blackberry and a raspberry, it leans heavily to the blackberry side in its growth habit (trailing), its color (deepest purple when ripe) and its flavor (bold but sweet). Cannard told me his plants were 20 years old and “the original cross,” not strains developed for commercial packing and shipping. With the original hybrid, “the berries are delicious, very soft, juicy and fragile. You have to eat them right away,” he said. I’d never tasted fresh-picked boysenberries, but they sounded like a wonderful thing to have in one’s yard.

An intern, Claire Wirick, was busy with the plants’ annual pruning and training. Like many bramble crops, boysenberries are perennial plants that send up canes in year one that bear fruit in year two. These second-year canes then die back. The ground was littered with dead canes that Claire and her co-worker had cut down at soil level.

Last summer’s canes, scheduled to bloom come spring, were being trained on two horizontal wires, one above the other, held up by sturdy posts about 10 feet apart. Wearing thick gloves, Claire was bundling the thorny canes together with a technique that was new to me. She twisted them like a rope around the top wire, sometimes dipping them down under the bottom wire and back up again. “It depends on how much space you have on the wire and how strong the canes are,” she explained. “Some are too weak to go down and back. You also want to leave as much air as possible between them.” When she came to a post, she wound canes around that as well. “The berries are easier to pick when they’re higher up.”

It might take a little practice, but these plants were so well woven that they needed no ties to keep them in place. I asked Claire whether she cuts off the tips. “No, only when propagating,” she said. “If they were trailing along the ground, those tips would root, so we snip them and start new plants with them in the greenhouse.”

Boysenberries, like many blackberries, are less hardy than raspberries. Hardiness Zone 7 is usually their limit, though a variety called Lavaca, recommended by Virginia Cooperative Extension, is said to be more cold tolerant and resistant to disease. Its fruits are more firm, a bit less delicate. Virginia Berry Farm markets it wholesale to nurseries, so you might find plants locally.

There are also thornless boysenberries, but I’d look for varieties that haven’t been messed with too much. Burnt Ridge Nursery, a mail order source in Onalaska, Wash., has one it says is the original boysenberry. If it produces berries with the delectable flavor that caused all the fuss in 1934, it’s well worth a try, thorns and all.

Damrosch is the author of “The Four Season Farm Gardener’s Cookbook.”

Tip of the week

Lawn mowers that need servicing and new blades should be taken to a repair shop now to avoid the early spring rush and to have the machines ready when the grass begins to grow in late March.

— Adrian Higgins

Principle 3: Obtain a yield

Do it Yourselfer #5

The third Permaculture Principle ‘Obtain a Yield’, uses the proverb “you can’t work on an empty stomach” as a way to help illustrate the importance of getting a reward for the work that one does.

Rewards can come in many forms. Permaculture activists Ethan Roland and Gregory Landua look at a whole system of economic understanding which they call the ‘8 forms of capital’.

The most familiar are physical forms are Financial Capital (money), Material Capital (non-living objects) and Living Capital (animals, plants, soil and water). The non tangible forms include Social Capital (our influence and connections), Intellectual Capital (knowledge), Human Capital (experience) and Spiritual Capital (religion, spirituality or ‘connection’).

There is one other form that is quite different from the others, and that’s Cultural Capital, which relates to the wider community – not just ourselves.

Most of us are ‘wealthy’ in a number of areas, but ‘poor’ in others. Ideally, we should look at building our capital in all of these areas in order to become more resilient.

How to manage Boysenberries

One of the first things that I planted when I moved into Abdallah House was Boysenberries. They have been very productive, this year we picked over 25kg of berries from just 7m of trellis thanks to a technique I learned from my garden mentor, Brian Bowring.

The canes require quite a bit of maintenance compared to other fruits, but a little bit of work often is the best method. If left to their own devices the canes quickly grow into a spiky jungle that can become a nightmare.

200mm square reinforcing mesh, available in 2.4m x 6m sheets, makes a great trellis that doubles as a fence. The 200m spacing is ideal for weaving up the canes as they grow.

It will take a full year to get the canes established, so be patient. Spring is the best time to plant them, and they will grow vigorously over the summer.

Working with the canes is best done using leather gloves, a long sleeve shirt and a good set of secateurs. Once the canes have been weaved vertically to the top of the trellis you can prune the leader, stimulating lateral growth. The side shoots can be weaved through wherever there is space, or pruned if there is not.

During the winter most of the leaves will drop off, and those that don’t should be removed to reduce habitat for insects. The bottom 300-400mm should be continually pruned back to the main leaders.

During the following Spring a wall of leaves will form with buds and later, flowers. New canes will emerge from the base, these will be used to replace the current fruiting canes which should be removed once fruiting has finished.

While it’s good to prune some of the new canes out, make sure you leave enough for a 200mm spacing. Set them aside near the base of the trellis to prevent them from getting damaged during the harvest.

Weave the canes up the mesh using one cane per 200mm and lateral canes horizontally. Prune off the tips as they reach the top.Most of the leaves will fall during the autumn and winter. When the buds appear remove remaining leaves.The bare canes reduce habitat for bugs, ensure all spaces are covered.
As the new comes on prune the leaves from the bottom 400mm and any canes where they are not needed.In Spring the buds will flower an new canes will emerge from the ground.During summer the new canes should be pulled to the side so they dont get damaged when the berries are being picked. Once harvest is over, pull old canes out and feed new cane up.

The harvest begins with the transition to Summer. Pick early morning each day while they are still firm, straight into small containers as they are easily damaged – recycled berry containers are ideal. Eat your fill while fresh and give plenty away to your friends and neighbours while in abundance.

Boysenberries don’t keep well so eat them quickly or freeze them in old ice cream containers, then they’ll last for months.

Berries also preserve well using the “Hot Bath” method with Vacola or larger recycled jars. I like to remove the seeds using a sieve after cooking them up when making jam, which makes a great Christmas gift that’s absolutely delicious.

Once the harvest is completed, remove all the old canes. I chop and drop them for mulch. Carefully weave the new canes up to replace them and repeat the process.

Learn more about how the ethics and design principles can be applied to your design. Check out the

Permaculture Ethics & Design Principles DVD

In this presentation David Holmgren explains how the permaculture ethics and design principles can be used as thinking tools for creatively responding to the energy descent future on a limited planet.

Everything You Need to Know About Boysenberries

The Cronut may be the most popular hybrid food, but it certainly isn’t the first. Way back in the early 1900s, a man named Charles Rudolph Boysen successfully bred a cross between a blackberry and a raspberry. If it had happened during the age of the Internet, the web would have blown up overnight with news of this wondrous berry. Instead, word spread slowly until it reached Walter Knott (of Knott’s Berry Farm), who began growing the fruit commercially and making it into preserves. He named the fruit boysenberry—proving that Knott was a modest man.

Before you head out to buy a basketful of Boysen’s magical hybrid berries, study up on them with this mini guide.

Where: Though Boysenberries originated in California, New Zealand is currently the largest producer and exporter. They are still grown in California as well as Oregon and other West Coast regions.

When: Late May through early July.

What to look for: A ripe boysenberry is plump, firm and an evenly colored reddish purple hue. Flavor profile: Unsurprisingly, the boysenberry tastes a lot like a cross between a blackberry and a raspberry. It has the juicy intensity of a blackberry, the sweet, floral character of a raspberry and a little bit more of a tang than either of its parents.

Health benefits: Boysenberries contain a good amount of dietary fiber, vitamin K and a slew of minerals including manganese, iron, calcium and potassium.

How to eat them: Though they’re terrific eaten fresh off the bramble, boysenberries are also delicious in jams, pies, tarts and custardy gratins.

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Boysenberry Festival is one of the tastiest seasons of fun at Knott’s Berry Farm. We had a blast this year – we enjoyed all the food offerings, especially the boysenberry milkshakes and chocolate dipped boysenberry cheesecake on a stick. We also loved the new shows and boysenberry merchandise. I would have to say that this was the best Boysenberry Festival to date!

This year there was tons of great boysenberry merchandise. It included items such as boysenberry chocolates, jerky, soda, candy, coffee and even a complete bath and body line. We picked up the annual boysenberry festival tees for the whole family, and this year we purchased a real boysenberry plant to take home and plant. Yep, we are going to grow our own boysenberries.

If you were one of the lucky ones who also purchased a boysenberry plant during the boysenberry festival, then you are probably getting ready to plant it. You will be happy to know that right now is the best time of year to plant boysenberry plants, and if you have a nice sunny spot in your yard (as boysenberries love the sun and only partial shade), then you are good to go.

Here are some great tips on how to plant and grow your boysenberry plant:

First, you want to make sure that the pH in your soil is correct for growing boysenberry plants. A pH range from 6-7 is ideal. If it is not in this range, you can add lime to raise it, and sulfur to lower it. It is also best to incorporate compost and nutrients into the soil. The compost will help with drainage.

Next, you need to create a structure that will support your boysenberry as they grow. Boysenberries are a vine plant, so they will continue to wrap themselves around anything they can vine onto. You can simply use a trellis found at your nearest garden store, or build one yourself. A few poles and some wire will work just fine. Space out the poles along a fence and string three to four wires across them. You can use plant ties to help keep them secure.

If you rather plant your boysenberry plant in a flower pot, make sure to get one that is at least 18 inches wide and 12-14 inches deep. It also needs to have several drainage holes and be filled with the slightly acidic soil mentioned above. Plant the boysenberry plant in the middle of the container and place a trellis, cage or poles entwined with wire. Make sure to also add compost and nutrients.

Boysenberries grow best in moist soil. You never want the soil to become dried out because boysenberries are not drought tolerant. The moisture helps produce the boysenberry buds and berry development. When you water, make sure the water goes deep, but be careful not to overwater or flood your plants. Also, try not get the leaves wet because that can cause rot and disease to your boysenberry plant. It is best to water in the morning so that any moisture on the leave can dry up in the sunshine.

Once you have planted your boysenberry plant, you can spread a layer of mulch or wood chips over the soil. This will combat weeds and keep some of the moisture in the soil. Fertilize the boysenberries with a 20-20-20 mix (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) at the beginning of spring and then every 4 weeks after that. Till in the fertilizer and then re-mulch the soil each time. If you have used a container to plant your boysenberry plant, you will need to water and fertilize it more often as containers have limited volume.

As the boysenberry plant grows and vines, use plant ties to secure it to your trellis or wire structure. You will see a white flower bloom, and once they have been pollinated, they will grow a boysenberry. You will know a boysenberry is ripe when it is dark purple, plump and shiny.

After the berries are harvested at the end of summer, the vines will need to be pruned. This is usually done between autumn and winter. Make sure to use clean cutting tools – you can soak in one part water, one part alcohol. Pruning involves cutting the fruit-bearing vines down and any of the long or weak vines to shorten. The fruit-bearing vines will be woody, and the next year will produce even more fruit. Boysenberry plants go dormant in winter, but they will be back next spring ready to start the berry growing process all over again!

Hope you enjoy your boysenberry plant.

Once Plentiful Boysenberries All But Extinct in California

It isn’t a plant. It’s a bush.

And right now, Mike a farmer in Perris – just outside of Corona – is spreading fertilizer so that in late May, he can harvest these boysenberries.

He does all the work himself, from planting to pruning to harvesting.

“California’s an excellent place to grow the boysenberries. They do like a little bit cooler weather and it does get a little warm out here but one of the advantages we have is it’s very dry,” said Mike.

California used to be rooted with thousands of acres of Boysen bushes, but today these 200 on Mike’s three acres are some of the few that remain.

Mike can tell you it’s been a real decline for a berry that was actually developed in SoCal – in Anaheim the 1920s by Rudolph Boysen. The large blackberry-related fruit became an instant classic. So much so that a little fruit stand off Highway 39 selling Boysens turned into modern day Knott’s Berry Farm.

“You could buy them fresh from the stand, but if you don’t have them growing close by then you’re not going to have that option. So that’s why you don’t see as many boysenberries as you used to,” Mike said.

So why has this once fruitful berry nearly gone extinct? Well the Boysenberry is temperamental.

Boysenberries take an expert green thumb and time – lots of it. The fruit only grows on the part of the bush that has grown out from last year. And after waiting and pruning and digging out, the picked berries have a shelf life of about three days.

“That means you’re not going to see them the grocery stores because they’re actually going to spoil before you can get them to the store. You will find them at a farmer’s market sometimes because the farmers can get them in within a day or two. But for the most part it’s very difficult to get them available,” said Mike.

That’s why Mike and his wife make hams and syrups – the majority of the surviving Boysenberry business.

“Being able to start with something that just looks like a stick in the ground and turning it into a product that’s an artisan jam that people enjoy in their homes is a real treat for us,” said Mike.

And while it’s hard work to bear the fruit of all of this labor, for those who still grow this California classic, it’s a labor of love.

Berryfruit – Boysenberry

Rubus ursinus × Rubus idaeus

Varieties to choose from
(click for more detail)
Barrel of Berries

In proper botanical language, it is not a berry at all, but instead an aggregate fruit of numerous drupelets around a central core. It typically grows in forest clearings or fields being an opportunistic colonizer of disturbed soil, particularly where fire or wood-cutting has produced open space. The raspberry like flower can be a major nectar source for honeybees. As a cultivated plant in moist temperature regions, it is easy to grow. This hybrid berry (also known as brambles) is a cross between a blackberry and a raspberry.

Landscape Value

Train on a trellis to support fruit. Alternatively train like a pillar-rose.

Nutritional Value

High in antioxidants and rich in Vitamin C.

How to Eat

Fresh, fresh and fresh in Gran’s jam or add it to a fresh summer salad. Better still add them to a plate full of ice-cream. Watch the kids eat them straight off the plant. Try some of our tasty recipes for berryfruit on the website.

Generic Fruiting Time




Full sun.


Does not tolerate wind & salty marine conditions.


Performs well in both warm and cool climates. Is frost tolerant as they become dormant.


Boysenberries prefer a slightly acidic soil and free draining. Mulch well to ensure the root systems remain moist during the growing season.


Plant in a warm well drained site with good moisture during fruit ripening. Plant so there is support for the fruiting canes. Plant plants about 1.5m apart.


An application of general fertiliser in spring with compost mulch is all that is required. Too much nitrogen will encourage leaf production instead of flowers.


Prune in winter to remove all canes that have fruited and all damaged and weak canes. Remove canes to the base, any fully thorny canes should be cut off as low to the ground as possible. Tie up young trailing canes to a trellis system, they will fruit in the second year. Remove tips so canes do not become too long and encourage fruiting laterals … read more about pruning


Good hygiene and not growing plants in wet soils will keep many diseases at bay. Bird netting may be needed. A spring spray at bud burst and regular sprays will ensure fruit are pest free.



Special Conditions

Cold weather at flowering will result in poor pollination and therefore small fruit.

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