Blackberry

Blackberries are a favourite of foragers but now gardeners are able to get in on the act and grow cultivated blackberries in the garden – you can even get varieties that are thorn-less, so no more pricked fingers. Imagine having your very own easy to access supply of these delicious fruits.

Growing blackberries:

Thorn-less blackberry varieties can be purchased that will avoid the scratched knuckles associated with foraged blackberries and bramble thickets. You can grow your blackberries in a spot with full sun or partial shade, the more sun the blackberry bush gets the more fruit will form on it.

If you already have wild blackberries in your garden you may already be familiar with how tricky they can be to keep in control. You may not mind a bit of wildness in your garden in which case you may just beat a path to your wild blackberry thicket so you can get at the fruit but blackberries do not need to be so unwieldy. Modern varieties can be easy to keep in bounds with a little bit of judicious pruning and some heavy mulching with leaf mound or similar around the base. Blackberries can be productive plants even in the most rigorously neat and planned garden. You could even train a blackberry up and over an arbour or up a pillar like a climbing rose.

Blackberries will not thrive in very chalky or heavy clay soil without some amendment, but they are pretty tolerant of anything in between. They do like to be well-watered in the summer but do not like to be waterlogged in the winter. They will do well in most places in the UK but may need watering, especially while becoming established, in drier regions.

Most blackberries fruit on second year canes so in cultivated garden blackberries, canes are generally cut out after they have fruited and this years canes tied in to fruit the following year. One blackberry bush in prime producing mode can provide over 5kg of fruit!

There are a number of different blackberry varieties and you should choose the one that is right for the space you have in your garden. The most successful commercial variety in the UK is the 'Loch Ness', a thornless blackberry which produces a high yield.

Blackberries will often do well as the understory to trees in a forest garden or garden edge, as long as they are not in full shade. Deciduous trees above will shed their leaves forming a natural mulch in which blackberries will thrive.

Bee balm, borage, tansy and rue are all good companion plants for blackberries as they will attract bees and repel pests. Legumes are also good because the blackberries like a relatively high nitrogen content to the soil.

Due to the fact that diseases can pass between the two, it is better not to plant blackberries and raspberries together.

Why grow blackberries in the garden?

Blackberries are a low maintenance garden plant, they are incredibly productive and the berries are very good for you, with all sorts of immune-system-boosting nutrients. When controlled they can be decorative and when wild they can form a natural landscaping barrier or wind-break.

Quick Facts

Latin Name
Rubus fruticosus