In the South, blackberries hold an honored place not just on our tables but also in our memories. For many of us, one taste of a blackberry cobbler instantly brings back thoughts of childhood summers spent picking berries. Blackberries are some of the first fruits of the season. White flowers in spring are followed by clusters of fruit that turn from green to red to purple before ripening to black.
Growing Blackberries | Selection
University of Arkansas horticulturists have developed new, improved selections of blackberries. 'Ouachita' and 'Natchez' produce larger fruit on thornless, disease-resistant plants. 'Kiowa' offers the largest fruit and has very thorny stems. All of these produce upright, arching canes. These selections can grow without support, but a trellis will keep canes and fruit off the ground. You can also train them against a wall or fence to make harvesting easy and reduce the need to spray. Prune old canes right after fruiting to encourage new canes and discourage diseases.
Growing Blackberries | Planting
Blackberries like a sunny spot with well-drained, fertile soil. Plant in fall or winter, spacing them 3 to 4 feet apart. Mulch with pine straw or shredded pine bark to conserve moisture and discourage weeds. Apply lime sulfur in late winter to control pests. Buy plants at a local nursery, or order from johnsonnursery.com or petalsfromthepast.com.