Garden Action

The premier gardening information source

How to care for and harvest fruit from your Blackberry bush

Care of Blackberries

Care of your Blackberry
Plant your Blackberry cane well and it will require little care. Water them when conditions become dry, especially if this occurs when the berries are forming. An annual dressing of well-rotted compost will see them throughout the season. Where compost is not available, use a log lasting fertiliser such as bonemeal. Blackberries are self-fertile and so will produce fruit even if only one plant is grown.

Harvesting Blackberries
The berries are produced on the previous year's growth, and for this reason, no blackberries will be produced during the first year.

It should be possible to start harvesting the berries in early July depending on the variety. Most varieties can be harvested from early August up until early October if the weather is good.

There are two methods to determine if blackberries are ready for harvest. First look at the colour, the berries should be deep purple or burgundy (almost but not quite black) and look plump. The second method is to pick a test blackberry. Grasp a berry between your thumb and finger then gently twist. If the fruit comes off easily leaving the stalk behind then it's ripe. Eat the blackberry to taste it! Some trial and error is required but if you start the harvest process from late July onwards you will soon be able to judge the correct time for harvest.

It's best to pick the fruit little but often to encourage the formation of more fruit. Frequent picking will also reduce the risk of the fruit over-ripening and rotting which will only encourage disease. The best time to pick blackberries is when the weather is dry, wet blackberries do not keep longer than a day before they begin to rot. As soon as the berries are harvested place them out of direct sunlight in a cool area.

Blackberries do not ripen when picked and they should be eaten within a day or so of harvest. If you want to keep them longer then place them in the refrigerator and they will be good for three or four days. Keep them slightly moist in the refrigerator for the best results.

Propagate Your Blackberry
It is an easy job to propagate a blackberry, even for novice gardeners. The best time is around mid-September. Select a stem which is in perfect condition (growing vigorously with no blemishes) and bend its tip to the ground. Where it touches the ground, dig a small hole about 15cm (6in) deep and bury the tip of the stem into the hole. Cover with crumbly soil to the surrounding soil level. If the stem looks like springing out of the hole, place a few largish stones over the soil to keep it in place (remove them two months later). Water well if the conditions are dry.

The stem tips will root in a couple of month's time, and can be dug up and moved to their final position early Spring next year. To do this, cut the parent stem about 30cm (12in) from the new plant. Dig up the new plant, trying to avoid any root disturbance and plant in their new positions. 

Varieties of Blackberry

Early Season      

Bedford Giant Thorny, vigorous grower Large black fruit, very good taste. Heavy crops for four weeks.

Merton Early Thorny, very compact grower Glossy fruit, good taste. Heavy cropper for around a month

Middle Season      

Himalayan Giant Very thorny, very vigorous Large black fruit, slightly acidic taste Heavy cropper over six or seven weeks

Merton Thornless No thorns, medium vigour Medium sized fruit, the best taste Good cropper over 6 weeks

Late Season      

John Innes Medium thorns, vigorous grower Large black fruit, excellent taste Good cropper, avoid cold sites




Name: john
Date posted: August 29, 2011 - 11:34 am
Message: My blackbery bush has not put out one berry this year. This is it's 2 year in the ground. It is huge, maybe 12 feet tall and shoots everywhere. What did I do wrong.

Name: vicki brown
E-mail: Private
Date posted: July 29, 2011 - 11:32 am
Message: dumb question: this is my first year for my blackberry bush to bloom and produce and I have it running a white picket fence. Two large "stems" keep growing higher (non-producing) and I wasn't sure what to do with them. they seem to be thriving in the not wether but my original "running" vines are dying. Are these large stems what should be bent over and put in the ground to grow?--or do they need to be cut back?

Name: Carol
Date posted: July 26, 2011 - 07:14 am
Message: Please can u help? My blackberries flowered but some of the buds/flowers died and a small fruit is dark brown and shrivelled. I have been looking each day and taking the died ones away in the hope of stoping the deterioration spreading. We have sprayed the bush but no joy!!!!!!!!

Name: John
Date posted: July 23, 2011 - 09:33 pm
Message: We live at 6,700 ft and our blackberry bush does great...gets full sun and we compost each year and always apply some each spring. Last year we put long tips into the ground as this article states and this year we have four healthy new bushes and will do the same this year so we can give some away. Best wishes to all who plant these...they taste great!

Name: Jamal
Date posted: July 08, 2011 - 11:02 am
Message: dont pick blackberrys it is racist

Name: Michael
Date posted: June 22, 2011 - 12:16 pm
Message: Just planted a small blackberry plant. But i dug a big hole in the ground to loosen up the soil on top plus there was clay way down. When I put the plant in the hole i filled it up with some of the dirt i took out and some good dirt from a compost pile. So im hoping this little plant will take off in a year or two. Will keep everyone informed of my first time garden. Good Luck to everyone trying to grow something. Today is the second day and another T-storm approaches.

Name: megan
Date posted: May 17, 2011 - 12:13 pm
Message: I live in Northern Florida, and theres wild blackberries growing EVERYWHERE! In my backyard, theres a huge bush and several other little ones growing around it. In the middle of the large bush theres dead, old stems. They seem to be attached to the whole bush, will it hurt the bush if i pull those out? Should I clip them?

Name: Wayne Fritsen
Date posted: December 28, 2010 - 06:42 pm
Message: we live in Pahrump Nevada, just north of Las Vegas and would like to grow black berries.

will the do well in our 100 degree summers? what species would you recomment
Soil is VERY hard clay but we can amend with much to loosen it up. will that be necassry.



E-mail: Private
Date posted: October 21, 2010 - 01:08 am
Message: can you please help me i have bought a blackberry called murrindindi thorness i live in s,a i have make a [small]runner for it was not such if it grows on a treis or not?It is local under a peach fruit tree where it gets morning sun and shade in the ground i have cow.sheep.chicken compost have i done the correctful thing for this blackberry or not or do i have to move it as i do not know anything about this plant my soil is not adic can you please tell me if i need to do anything else or it is in the right place

Name: JANET Van Craeyenest
E-mail: Private
Date posted: September 21, 2010 - 09:35 am
Message: I live in Spain and bought my blackberry plant from the Garden centre but it has not produced any berries, why is this it is growing very tall

Name: Robert Buser
Date posted: August 05, 2010 - 03:02 pm
Message: I have looking for a plant nursery that sells black currant bushes and getting nowhere.Can you help? Thanks.