Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Growing Thornless Blackberries

For the last year or two I've dreamed of growing fruits on our lot.  Unfortunately we have many large trees on our small property so for the most part that means I can't grow fruit!  I half-heartedly attempted to grow strawberries last year, but of the 15 or so plants I planted I only ever had 1 berry ripe at a time.  Big bummer. I did a bit more research and found there are a few fruits that can take part sun.  I've decided to do a trial run of four thornless blackberries (1 Arapaho and 3 Ouchitas), 1 fig (Celeste), and 2 rhubarbs (Victoria).  I will do a post on the fig & rhubarb a little later.  Here I will talk briefly about our blackberries.

Dallas Fruit Grower did an awesome post back in July 2010 on growing thornless blackberries in Dallas, so I'm not going to reinvent the wheel here.  This is more just to chronicle my experiences (and hopefully successes!) with growing thornless blackberries.  Going on his recommendation for the area, I purchased 4 blackberries from North Haven Gardens about 1 month ago when they were having a sale - I believe they were $9 each for one gallon plants.  I meant to buy 4 Ouchitas, but realized after I got home that I had picked up an Arapaho in place of one of the Ouchitas.  Eh, we'll use it as an experiment.  Ouchitas work best for Dallas Fruit Grower, but perhaps the Arapaho will be the best for me.  Only time will tell.

Picture taken on 2/22/2011
Will plant sunflowers (for chicken treat) to right of pathway in open space

I planted the four blackberries in our front yard along the north bed (see picture above).  The Arapaho is the furthest back, closest to the street.  NHG recommended planting with Green Light Root Stimulator & Starter Solution, a 5-15-5 rooting hormone & fertilizer.  Knowing basically nothing about blackberries, I followed their recommendation.  Only three days after planting these on 1/29/11 we had our "storm of the generation" here in Dallas.  It brought about 8 inches of snow and plunged the area into a deep freeze (and I'm talking temps as low as 8 to 10F) that lasted for something like 5 days.  I didn't protect these plants in any way.  They were completely at the mercy of mother nature.  And it appears they survived with flying colors.  So far I am very impressed.  I will update you on the blackberries progress as the seasons unfurl. -Carrie

Picture taken 2/22/2011

Same plant, picture taken 3/1/2011


  1. Great looking plants. You will find them very cold hardy. We got hit with 10-12" of snow just after Christmas. It stayed on the ground for over a week (rare in NN, VA) and nothing happened to my blackberries. Solid. Unfortunately you likely won't have any berries this year (maybe just a few on existing growth). They will grow like a weed this year and fruit next year on this year's growth. They also tolerate a bit of shade, as do figs, so they are good plants for experimenting with in part shade.

  2. Pigs Don't KnowMarch 2, 2011 at 4:57 AM

    We have Blackberries? - Jason

  3. Hi all,

    Do you think that wild blackberries can be transplanted into a new garden area?

    Would they need a large rootball?

    Or, would it be best to just buy a variety known for growing in humid, hot VA

    We have never grown anything like that, or anything other than shade loving plants for years.

    Thanks in advance for any advice anyone may have.


  4. Dallas Fruit GrowerMarch 2, 2011 at 6:15 PM

    Way to go! I'm betting that you get a crop this year. You are going to love the fruit.

    TSF should be careful with the wild blackberries. They have thorns, they grow like weeds, and they are difficult to eradicate.

    The great thing about the berries that Pigs Don't Know are growing is that they don't have thorns, they grow relatively upright, and are more easily kept in control.

  5. Jason - Get with the program, babe!

    TSF - I think that transplanting wild blackberries & their thorns seems like a pain - literally! I'd go directly to Edible Landscaping (ediblelandscaping.com) as they are in your area and would know the most about what varieties do well there.

    DFG - I like your statement of us getting a "crop" this year way better than .09 Acres statement of only getting a few berries! However, I must admit that everything I've read points to just getting a few. I'll take any! I planted them with the understanding that I probably wouldn't get many this year. So any they throw at me will be much appreciated! Bring on the crop! -Carrie

  6. I shall, wisely, take everyone's advice.