How To Grow A Blackberry Bush

I have to admit I love a large garden and plants, but I am a low maintenance gardener. That’s why I love my blackberry bush. I take care of it and do whatever is necessary, but it doesn’t take a lot of effort to thrive. Whether you’re the type of gardener who likes to go out into the yard often or you’re more like me and consider yourself to be low-maintenance, mulberry is the plant for you. Mulberry bushes produce beautiful blackberries that are packed with vitamins, antioxidants, fiber and delicious taste.

1 blossoming and growing blackberry bushes
My blackberry bushes are thriving and growing so tall and the vines growing so long!

How to grow blackberries

My blackberry bushes are a precious gift from a friend who is a master gardener. She gave me two blackberry bushes in two small pots. You need to check and see if the variety you choose is self-pollinating, meaning that you will only need one to produce fruit or if it needs another plant for pollination. I have also found that having both plants produces more blackberries. You only need to have one plant if it is self-pollinating. If you don’t have a friend master gardener, you can order your mulberry online. Another thing to check when ordering your blackberry shrub is to make sure your area is in an area where your blackberry shrub will grow.

I always watch the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map to see if the blackberry plants I want to buy will grow in my house. The soil should have good drainage for your mulberries to thrive. Soil is important, but mulberry plants are adaptable and plentiful. You’ll just want to avoid soils that have a lot of clay. If so, you can add peat moss to soften the clay for better drainage.

2 Planting mulberry trees near a fence

Near a fence is always a good place to plant your mulberry.

Where to plant blackberry seedlings

A blackberry shrub should have full sun. I chose the place near my fence in full sun on the advice of my friend, master gardener. She says the mulberry vines love to climb up the fence. Mulberry bushes expand, so you will need a little space for them to thrive. I have a thornless blackberry shrub. There are different varieties of blackberries. They can be trailing, semi-trailing and erect. I prefer the thornless variety because they are so much easier to prune. The vines can range from 10 to 20 feet in diameter. My soles grew about 6 feet the first year and about 10 feet the following year and now it has grown to about 20 feet. They keep looking for places to go.

The long vines make their way beyond everything. The vines grow in any direction but can be led in any direction you want them to go. The problem with vines is that they don’t just sit on the fence.

I chose a wooden trellis the first time. It works well when the plant is young, but as my plant grew I knew I was going to have to think a bit more about how I was going to care for my still growing vines. The more vines you have, the more berries you will get.

3 vines growing along the fence with the help of nails and twist plant ties

Mulberry vines growing along the fence with the help of nails and twist ties.

We put the nails on the fence to hold the vines in place. I also use garden ties to hold the vines in place. This works well if you want the vines to hang out on your fence.

4 Shepard hooks to allow mulberry vines to grow rather than just stay on the fence

Shepard hooks to allow mulberry vines to grow rather than just stay on the fence.

I have two Shepard hooks that help keep the blackberries in place and off the ground. If you want your mulberry tree to be more confined to one spot, I recommend a vertical trellis or an arched trellis. Depending on your space, you can use any type of trellis or fence as long as the vines can attach to it.

Blackberry Plant Care – Watering

You don’t need to water a mulberry very often. They are generally fine with the amount of rain that falls in your area. I live in the humid south, so in the summer it can get very hot. If it hasn’t rained for a while, I’ll water. When I water I try to do it in the early evening to avoid evaporation. I also water when I first plant the blackberry shrub and when the fruits are about to sprout. I make sure to water as it makes the blackberries tastier and more flavorful.

5 flowering mulberries that will turn into blackberries
Photo of a flowering blackberry shrub that will turn into blackberries.

Blackberry Plant Care – Harvest

Like most fruits and vegetables, the blackberry shrub produces a flower that turns into a beautiful blackberry. Your blackberry shrub will not produce blackberries until the second year.

I was excited and started harvesting my blackberries too early, they were the right very dark almost black color but were still hard to the touch. So I gave them a few more days and they were ripe and tasted delicious.

Storage

Blackberries don’t last long in the fridge but I’ve found that if I put them in a container with a little ventilation, they last longer. I wash them just before eating them. Very ripe blackberries should be eaten within two days. If I pick the blackberries and know that I won’t be eating them in the next few days, I put them in a double boiler with about a tablespoon of white vinegar. I make sure to rinse them well to get rid of the vinegar smell and then dry them with a paper towel. I then put them in a container with ventilation. This allows the blackberries to be stored for a few more days.

Cut

You want to prune your blackberry shrub during the dormant season after all of the fruit is gone. Size is very important for several reasons. This will ensure that your plant will maintain its shape and size. If you are pruning, you can guide the plant to attach to the trellis, shepherd’s hook, or fence the following year as desired. Pruning will also stimulate plant growth and help have better blackberries next season. Old stems can be pruned very low. My old stems turn a white-gray color and I know it is normal to prune these vines back. Removing the stems after they have produced fruit is also good for the overall health of the blackberry shrub so that the old stems do not drain the plant and ensure that next year’s shoots are healthy and strong. .

If you missed some stems when pruning in the fall, be sure to remove them in the spring. This is always a good time to get rid of the stems that will never produce fruit.

6 Prune the shoots that won't blackberry next year
Prune shoots that won’t blackberry next year.

7 prune the shoots that won't blackberry next year
New shoots that will not produce fruit this year but will do so next year.

A blackberry shrub grows on a three-year cycle. In the first year, the shoots come out and produce no fruit. In the second year, these same shoots produce flowers, and the flowers turn into fruit. After producing fruits, they take on a grayish color and will not produce flowers or fruits. These are to be pruned. The cycle continues so there are always new shoots coming in and old shoots dying. In this way, the shrub mulberry is both biennial and perennial.

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