Nutrition Articles

Fruit and Vegetable Gardening A-Z: Blackberries and Raspberries

A Guide to Gardening, Growing and Harvesting Edibles

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Berries are delicious, but often expensive at the supermarket. Grow your own blackberries and raspberries at home instead! Many new hybrids, which cross blackberries with their relative raspberries, are readily available these days, too; these can be useful if space is limited.

Hardiness Zones:
5-10 (Find your hardiness zone.)

When to Plant:
Purchase bushes from a reputable nursery, making sure they are certified to be free of diseases and root nematodes. Plant bushes in early spring (in hardiness zone 5 and north) or in fall or late winter (in zone 6 and south). Blackberries and raspberries take two years to start fruiting following the initial planting. Water generously after planting.

Conditions:
Blackberries and raspberries are very adaptable to different kinds of soils, but they prefer moist, rich soils. Prep the bed by tilling it and working in generous amounts of compost. Do not plant raspberries where tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, or eggplant have grown within the past four years, because these crops carry a root rot called "verticillium" that can also attack raspberries.

Space Needed:
Space bushes 5-6 feet apart in rows 10 feet apart.

Maintenance:
A double row of support trellises is recommended for berries. Allow no more than 10 canes (branches) to develop on each bush so as to not overwhelm the trellis. Some training of the canes onto the trellis is necessary. When the fruits are setting, supply constant moisture. Birds are the main predator of these berries, so placing some netting over the plants might be helpful. While the roots of the bushes are perennial, the canes are biennial. A new cane (called a primocane) comes up and produces no fruit while the new canes from the previous year (called floricanes) do. Remove the floricanes at the end of the growing season. Blackberries are self-fertilizing.

When to Harvest:
Berries are ready for picking in early fall when they are a deep black color (blackberries) or deep red (raspberries) and come off easily when touched.

Average Yield:
Expect 1-2 pounds per bush during the growing season.

Continuous Yield:
Yes

Life Cycle:
Perennial, some varieties up to 12 years

Difficulty Rating (1-5):
New plant, 4; established plant, 2.

 
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About The Author

Jenny Sigler Jenny Sigler
Jenny is a stay-at-home mom to her young children, Augustine and Olive. An avid gardener and baker, she enjoys writing about health and childcare topics to empower people to make healthy choices. See all of Jenny's articles.

Member Comments

  • Thank you for such an informative article! I was only going to try blueberries and strawberries next year in my small garden, but now I'm going to work the blackberries in too. The sheer delight of eating something that has grown in your yard! Fantastic! - 9/23/2013 9:10:44 AM
  • ARIF12
    I found it very interesting and enjoyed reading all of it. Thank you for useful post. As someone who's trying to promote their website and keep people interested, I've gotta say that I appreciate a post like this.


    - 8/30/2012 2:23:32 AM
  • I have some blueberry bushes I planted and last year I put in 2 thornless blackberry bushes. I love just walking out to the backyard to pick berries for a meal! - 4/4/2012 7:54:55 AM
  • Both these berries now can fruit from the first year if you buy the right canes look out for Prima canes these are 6 foot long bare root plants you plant them( Do Not cut down) and they fruit this year and many more to come I bought mine two years ago and they are fantastic. - 2/22/2011 12:50:13 PM
  • Both these berries now can fruit from the first year if you buy the right canes look out for Prima canes these are 6 foot long bare root plants you plant them( Do Not cut down) and they fruit this year and many more to come I bought mine two years ago and they are fantastic. - 2/22/2011 12:49:51 PM
  • Thanks so much for posting gardening articles! I plan on a garden this year, and this is so helpful! Woohoo! - 2/4/2010 8:23:12 AM
  • We use to go along the country road and pick blackberries as they grew easily. - 4/30/2009 3:47:43 PM
  • I don't know if the same is true of cultivated plants or not, but the wild bushes will spread on their own and are almost impossible to kill off.....I know, I've tried! - 4/10/2009 4:59:26 AM

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