Blackberries (Rubus fruticosis) will grow well in most parts of Texas. They are best planted in winter as root cuttings or bare root plants. Texas A&M University has developed several cultivars specifically for growing in Texas and recommends several more developed by the University of Arkansas.
Climate and Recommended Cultivars
Blackberries grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 through 9, which includes all of Texas except the Brownsville area in the southern tip of the state, which is in USDA zone 10a. The varieties that grow best in Texas are hybrid varieties developed from domestic and wild blackberry types.
Developed and released by Texas A&M University:
- Early to ripen 'Brazos' (Rubus fruticosis 'Brazos') has been the standard blackberry in Texas since it was introduced in
- 'Rosborough' (Rubus fruticosis 'Roseborough'), introduced in 1977, yields larger, sweeter berries than 'Brazos' and is the best early maturing blackberry for South Central and East Texas.
- 'Womack' (Rubus fruticosis 'Womack') is similar to 'Rosborough' with smaller berries and is the cultivar of choice for deep, sandy soil.
- 'Brison' (Rubus fruticosis 'Brison') has large blackberries similar to 'Rosborough' and is the best choice if you live in South-Central Texas or have clay or black land soils.
Developed by the University of Arkansas.
- 'Arapaho' (Rubus fruticosis 'Arapaho') yields quality blackberries over a month-long season and is best suited to areas south of Dallas and north of Corpus Christi.
- 'Navaho' (Rubus fruticosis 'Arapaho') is difficult to grow from root cuttings. It yields more berries than 'Arapaho' but should only be grown in areas of Texas north of Lubbock.
- 'Quachita' (Rubus fruticosis 'Quachita') produces a heavy yield but grows only in warmer parts of South Texas.
Sun and Soil
Blackberries grow best in full sun and sandy soil. Blackberries will grow in a wide range of soils as long as they have a pH of 4.5 to 7.5, are least 12 inches deep and drain. They grow best in sandy. They like full sun.
How to Plant
Root cuttings are both dug and planted in the winter.
Things You'll Need
Dormant blackberry plant
Soak knife blade for five minutes in a solution of 1 part household bleach and 3 parts of water. Rinse it and let it air-dry.
Cut a root section about the width of a pencil and roughly 6 inches long. Cut the root straight through on the end nearest the crown of the blackberry plant and at a slant on the end farthest from the crown. The crown is where the roots meet the stem of the plant.
Bury the root cuttings horizontally about 2 to 4 inches deep in the ground with 2 to 3 feet between plants and 6 to 12 feet between rows.
You can store a root cutting for up to three weeks in a refrigerator before planting. Keep the cutting in moist sand, sawdust or peat in a plastic bag.
Bare Root Plants
Bare root plants are also planted in the winter. Keep the roots moist until you plant them. If you have to delay planting, store them in the refrigerator or stash them in a trench and cover with damp soil.
Space erect cultivars from 2 to 4 feet apart. Space trailing cultivars from 3 to 5 feet apart. Allow 10 to 15 feet between rows.
Things You'll Need
Soak the knife blade for five minutes in a solution of 1 part household bleach and 3 parts of water. Rinse it and let it air-dry.
Prune the plants to about 6 inches long.
Plant the roots at the same depth they were in the nursery. You will see the crown, that spot where the roots meet the stem. This should be even with the soil.
Spread the roots out in the hole.
Fill the hole with soil and tamp down to remove air pockets.
Fertilizer and Water
Do not fertilize either root cuttings or bare root blackberries when you plant them.
In late spring or summer apply 4 ounces of 10-10-10 slow-release fertilizer per plant in an 18-inch-wide ring surrounding the plant. Water thoroughly.
Keep the soil most but not soggy as the cuttings or bare root plants grow.
- Texas Gardener Magazine: Blackberries Sweet & Juicy
- Dallas Garden Buzz: Growing Blackberries in Dallas
- University of Florida IFAS Extension: The Blackberry
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Hand Planting Guidelines for Bareroot Trees and Shrubs
- North Carolina State University Extension: Plant Propagation by Leaf, Cane, and Root Cuttings: Instructions for the Home Gardener
- Floridata: Rubus Fruticosis
- University of Florida IFAS Extension: Sterilizing Pruning Tools
A one-time farm boy, Richard Hoyt, holder of a PhD in American studies, is a former newspaper reporter, magazine writer and college professor. While writing 27 novels of suspense, he has lived on sugar cane, pepper and papaya plantations and helped keep bees in Belize.