Blackberries occur naturally in woodland environments across the Northern Hemisphere and are widely cultivated for their sweet, dark purple fruit. The rambling, thorny blackberry brambles spread via underground runners, making them a prolific and somewhat invasive species to grow.
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Most gardeners take advantage of the aggressive nature of blackberries to create new plants by relying on vegetative propagation instead of seed germination. However, it is also possible to grow blackberry plants from seed with a little patience.
Meet the Blackberry
There are many reasons to consider adding blackberries to the backyard berry patch. Easy to grow, the canes produce oodles of delicious fruits that are surprisingly good for you. They are among the fruits that provide a very high antioxidant content. That's all above and beyond their delicious taste fresh from the garden or in jellies and desserts, like pies.
The downside of these popular fruit-producing plants is a six-letter word: thorns. Wild blackberry patches are difficult to navigate in nature because they turn into thorny hedges. But today, growers have developed a good number of thornless varieties that are perfect for the home gardener.
Plant the Blackberry
As a rule, these fruit plants are not grown from seed but from transplants, roots, or crowns. While this can appear challenging to the novice gardener, blackberries are among the easiest fruits to install in your berry patch. You won't need more than one plant to pollinate since they are self-fertile. They thrive almost anywhere they can get enough sun.
Plant the blackberries in early spring. They only require shallow planting. Space the plants differently depending on the presentation. If you are planting erect cultivars, space them 3 feet apart. For semierect cultivars, provide a few more feet between plants, spacing them 5 to 6 feet apart. For trailing varieties, you'll need to leave 5 to 8 feet between them. The flowers and fruits should appear the first year.
Grow Blackberries From Seed
It is also possible to grow blackberries from seed, although you will miss out on at least the first year's crop. The blackberry seeds need stratification the first year — some three to five months in the refrigerator — but may grow the second year.
To propagate blackberries from seeds, prepare a nursery flat with flat stones in the bottom for proper drainage. Mix good potting soil with garden soil and some organic compost. The clean, stratified seeds should be placed on the top of the soil or should be very shallowly planted. Keep them moist until they sprout.
As they grow, add more compost every month. Keeping the soil moist is critical. When spring arrives, transplant the seedlings into a site with at least partial sun. Well-drained soil is important. The planting hole should be large enough to allow the roots to grow. Plant them 2 feet apart.