Blackberries are incredibly easy to grow, and you are rewarded with a delicious harvest of tasty berries year after year. In this article, discover the best types of blackberries to plant in your home garden.
Blackberries are incredibly nutritious fruits jam-packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They’re low in calories and an excellent source of fiber, manganese, and vitamin C.
These sweetly juicy berries are wonderful for making baked goods and preserves, adding a flavorful twist to your favorite cocktails and smoothies, or enjoying fresh off the vine. It’s also possible to freeze them for later use.
There are numerous blackberry varieties to choose from. Blackberry cultivars are classified into three general categories: erect, semi-erect, and trailing. Erect types don’t require additional support, and trailing blackberries grow best on a trellis.
Semi-erect blackberry types don’t climb on their own, but they benefit from some extra structural reinforcement. There are also thorny and thornless varieties of blackberries.
Best Varieties of Blackberries for Home Gardeners
When the time comes to choose which berry cultivars to plant, it’s helpful to understand the distinctions between several of the most common types of blackberries, just like you need to know about the different types of cranberries. This way, you can decide which ones best suit your climate, available garden space, and intended uses.
Wild blackberries are native to temperate northern regions in the United States. Most commercially-grown blackberries come from Oregon, California, and Washington. Are mulberries and blackberries the same? No, there are distinct differences between the two types of plants.
All true blackberries are floricanes, meaning they only produce fruit on second year canes. Planting blackberry seeds takes a lot longer than growing bare-root plants. In contrast, some types of raspberries are primocane-fruiting, where the fruit develops on new canes.
While their root system is perennial, blackberry canes are biennial. The primocane (first year growth) is vegetative, and second year canes produce fruit then die back.
As such, yearly pruning is crucial to prevent the brambles from becoming overgrown and difficult to manage. Do you know when to trim blackberry bushes? Prune the old canes to ground level in late fall or early winter once they’re done fruiting and are dormant.
Several types of berries are hybrid crosses between blackberries and raspberries. There are differences between blackberry vs black raspberry, too. Loganberry (Rubus x loganobaccus) is a cross between the North American blackberry (Rubus ursinus) and the European raspberry (Rubus idaeus).
Dewberries (Rubus aboriginum) are a wild blackberry that grows small berries on trailing vines. Boysenberry (Rubus ursinus x idaeus) is a hybrid of blackberry, dewberry, loganberry, and raspberry. These plants produce aggregate berries, consisting of many drupelets or seed pockets.
How much sun do blackberries need? Blackberry plants grow best in an area that gets full sun and has nutrient-rich, well-draining soil. They favor moderately acidic soil with a pH level between 5.5-6.5. Contact your local cooperative extension office for a soil test to determine your garden soil’s pH level to see if you need to add fertilizer for blackberries.
Thornless Types of Blackberries
Many growers prefer thornless blackberries because they’re much easier to harvest and maintain. Here are some of the top thornless blackberry types.
This outstanding thornless blackberry variety produces a heavy yield of extra-large fruit starting in mid to late June. They continue fruiting through late summer. The berries have a tartly sweet flavor deal for making jams, jellies, and pies.
Apache blackberry plants are disease-resistant, particularly against orange rust. They grow best in USDA zones 5-9. When you find yourself wondering what to do with your delectable berries, try this simple recipe for homemade blackberry jam.
Place your fresh blackberries in a large mixing bowl with the sugar and allow them to sit covered overnight to allow the sugar to begin dissolving, which reduces the cooking time and allows the berries to remain more intact. For a smoother texture, skip this step.
If you’d prefer fewer seeds in your jam, mash the berries first and simmer them for several minutes in a small saucepan with a tablespoon of lemon juice. Then, press them through a sieve or jelly bag. Add a few seeds back in if desired.
Transfer the fresh or prepared berries into a large mixing bowl and lightly mash them with a fork or potato masher. Pour the berry mixture into a medium-sized saucepan and incorporate the sugar, pectin, and lemon juice.
Boil for five minutes, occasionally stirring to ensure that it doesn’t stick to the pan’s bottom. If it does, reduce the heat a little.
Use a food thermometer to monitor when the jam reaches its setting point at 220℉. Remove the saucepan from the flame and skim off the excess foam on top. Stirring in a small amount of butter helps disperse the foam layer.
Allow the jam to cool for around 15 minutes before transferring it into sterilized canning jars. It lasts fresh in the refrigerator for up to three weeks or in the freezer for six months. For long-term storage, seal the canning jars in a hot water bath.
Arapaho is a thornless blackberry variety with an erect growth habit. Its fruiting canes produce both red and black fruits, which begin ripening in early to mid-June. This cultivar has remarkable heat and cold hardiness and is suited for USDA zones 4-9. The plants are also disease-resistant.
Chester blackberries are extra-large with a richly complex flavor. They’re thornless, semi-erect blackberries that benefit from trellising. Their prolific crop ripens in late July to mid-August.
They’re both heat-tolerant and disease-resistant, especially against cane blight. In addition, the berries stay firm and flavorful in hot weather. They do well in USDA zones 5-9.
Navaho is an erect, thornless blackberry variety that begins fruiting in mid-June. It’s one of the few cultivars resistant to double blossom disease, prevalent in the southeastern United States. The plants are heavy producers and fast growers. They’re best suited for USDA zones 6-10.
This exceptional blackberry variety produces high yields of deliciously sweet, medium-sized berries starting in mid-June. The plants are thornless with an erect growth habit. How tall do blackberry bushes get when they are of the Ouachita variety? Expect a height of four to five feet.
These easy-to-grow blackberry plants are heat-tolerant and disease-resistant. They can withstand double blossom disease, also known as rosette disease. Ouachita blackberries do well in USDA zones 5-9.
Triple Crown is a thornless, trailing blackberry variety renowned for its flavor, productivity, and vigorous growth habit. The large, extra-sweet berries begin ripening in mid-July. This variety is easy to grow thanks to its cold hardiness and disease resistance. The plants thrive in USDA zones 5-8.
Thorny Blackberry Types
Don’t let the thorny blackberry vines deter you from trying a few of these delicious types of blackberries. With regular pruning, they are manageable.
These impressive blackberry plants produce the largest berries of any cultivar, averaging three inches long. Kiowa is a thorny, erect blackberry type that fruits earlier and longer than many other varieties, beginning in early June.
With a bountiful harvest of super-sweet blackberries, it’s easy to see why Kiowa is such a popular cultivar. The plants are low-maintenance and disease-resistant and grow best in USDA zones 6-9.
Even if you’re not all that into baking, this easy blackberry cobbler recipe is sure to impress. The dish takes as little as ten minutes to prepare and is excellent served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Begin with preheating your conventional oven to 450℉. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour and one cup of sugar. Stir in the cup of milk, followed by the melted butter. Stir well until the mixture has an even texture throughout.
Grease the bottom of a nine-inch by nine-inch baking pan and pour in the batter. Evenly distribute the blackberries on top. If you’re using frozen blackberries, add them while still frozen for the best flavor and texture.
Sprinkle a quarter-cup of sugar over the berries. Bake for 50 minutes, adding more berries at 30 minutes if desired.
Remove the dish from your oven and scatter the remaining two tablespoons of sugar on top. Bake for ten more minutes or until your cobbler’s top is golden brown. Serve immediately with ice cream, whipped cream, vanilla yogurt, or your favorite topping.
Prime-Ark 45 is a newly released hybrid cultivar from the University of Arkansas. Find out more about their plant breeding program at https://horticulture.uark.edu. This unique blackberry variety is an everbearing primocane. It produces a smaller yield of fruit on thorny first year canes and a larger crop on second year canes.
The plants typically begin fruiting in July and continue until the first frost. They have an erect growth habit and are disease-resistant and cold-hardy. Prime-Ark 45 blackberries are best suited for USDA zones 5-9.
If you’re planting blackberries in your home garden for the first time, you’re in for a real treat. No matter which varieties of blackberries you choose to grow, your efforts will bring an enticing harvest of yummy fruits every summer for years to come.
With so many blackberry varieties to choose from, why not try growing several different types of blackberries?
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