Growing Thornless Blackberry Bushes in Zone 6:
What are Brambles? ( genus - Rubus spp. Rosaceae )
Blackberries and Raspberries are Brambles and they are from the Rose Family.
Then what are Brambles? you didn't ask. :)
According to Rodale's Organic Gardening book - "Brambles' produces fruit clusters of tiny fruits called drupelets, each drupelet contains one seed".
All brambles produce biennial canes. The first year the bramble bush will produce new canes but not flower. The second year those are the canes that will flower and produce fruit.
Soil Preparation for Thornless Blackberries Bushes
It was a lot easier than planting my thorny Raspberries. :)
- Select a site that's in full sun, but I found that thornless blackberries will tolerate some shade.
- Select a Site with rich, well drained, sandy soil.
- Add plenty of organic matter (compost or well rotted manure).
- Soil PH range of 6.0 - 7.0 preferably around 6.5
When to Plant Blackberries
I like planting in the spring in Zone 6.
Dig a deep hole to fit all roots without bending.
Blackberries do not do well with weeds - use mulch to smother weeds.
Water well after planting.
In exposed locations, give berries a windbreak.
Southern areas - shade cloth will prevent sunscalded fruits.
Row spacing should be wide enough to allow easy harvest and sunlight and air to reach all plants. For home gardeners around 5' between rows is plenty.
Spacing between plants: 1' - 2 feet apart.
I don't have that many plants so I think my blackberries are more like 4' apart.
I built a trellis, so I'm training mine to grow on the trellis.
For the trellis I found the easiest one was to pound T-bar posts in the ground 4 feet apart.
Then I just threaded some sturdy cord through the holes in the T-bars. Thick wire is harder for me to tighten.
I tried wire mesh for the trellis, but it was harder for harvesting, because I can only harvest the berries from one side. The trellis is on the edge of my vegetable garden.
Thornless Blackberries Pruning:
Some people prune the Blackberries fruiting canes to the ground in the Fall. I just tidy-up mine up in the Fall and do the rest of the pruning in early spring. I know I'm going to have some of the branches die back during the winter. So, I just remove all of the dead stuff. The old fruiting canes will sprout new canes.
Who else likes Berries besides humans?
So, when I tighten my berry branches to the trellis, I do a sloppy job to somewhat hide my berries. :)
Does it work?
I don't know for sure. I do get lots of blackberries, but I do have lots of other berries that they pig out on like, currants, grapes and strawberries.
Are thornless blackberries invasive?
I find thornless blackberries better behaved than my raspberries. They do sucker, but to me they are more plants and if they show-up somewhere I don't want them to be, I just dig them up. So far I haven't seen them wonder too far. Still on the same berry bed for 12 years.
Where to buy Thornless Blackberry Bushes
I think I bought mine at Lowes and I'm growing in Zone6.