Blackberry Pollination

luvahydrangea(Albany, NY 5)May 19, 2012


I've had a blackberry plant for about 4 years, I think this is its 4th summer here. Anyway, it doesn't typically produce that well, although I noticed every year it matures, it does produce more flowers. This year its just covered in flowers, I would love to have some blackberries this year, but I've noticed absolutely *no* pollinators on the flowers. Anyone have experience in pollinating them yourself? Is it enough to use an electric toothbrush on them? Or something else? Any advice would be appreciated. My daughter waits for them every year, and the 5 or 6 edible berries we get hardly makes the space it takes in our garden worthwhile. I'll include some pictures in case that helps. Thank you for any suggestions.

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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Mine set very well even in my greenhouse with no bees and little wind. If that plant doesn't set by itself this year you need another variety, possibly Triple Crown. Great looking plant!!!

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 10:11AM
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gator_rider2(z8 Ga.)

Plant your Blackberry plants in full sun you in zone 5 every minute with sun shine of day are you have very short crop. Planting Blackberry up next to home wall is bad ideal any where.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 8:21PM
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luvahydrangea(Albany, NY 5)

Unfortunately the reason I had to choose that location was because its the only spot that gets full sun. I live in a city, and have a narrow lot, and with the houses being so close together, there aren't too many areas that get full sun.

I went ahead and buzzed them with my electric toothbrush anyway. It felt weird doing that outside where my neighbors could see me, lol. If we dont get fruit, I will try a different type in that location and probably move the existing one to a new location. Thanks for that suggestions.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 8:32PM
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Scout the neighborhood for plants that are attracting bees (rosemary?) at the same time your berries are blooming and plant those nearby.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 10:59PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

I'm curious about the use of the electric toothbrush. I'd not heard of it so I looked it up. It seems to be a technique for tomatoes and other Solanaceae and, as far as I understand it, is designed to vibrate the flower to simulate the way bumble bees work. You aren't supposed to touch the face of the flower. If you buzzed your toothbrush right in the blackberry flowers I would think there was a risk of damaging the stigma and anthers and thus preventing pollination rather than facilitating it. This is just a hypothesis but that's how it seems to me. Most hand pollination of fruit is done with something soft like a cotton bud, artist's paintbrush or rabbit's foot.

Are those raspberries around the corner of the house? Do they bear fruit? If so I don't think it's a pollinator problem.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 6:53AM
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I agree with flora. The toothbrush is about vibration, since tomatoes are self pollinating and depend on the pollen shedding and falling to achieve pollination. Just shaking the plant will do the same thing. The principle does not extend to something like a berry. Hand pollination should be done with something gentle so that the delicate flower parts are not injured.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 8:14AM
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luvahydrangea(Albany, NY 5)

Oh the toothbrush is used on the stem of the flowers, not on the actual flowers. I read somewhere that Blackberries were also self pollinating, so I figured I would try. And yes, to the left are raspberries and we always get a lot of those in spite of always removing a lot of the canes.

Anyway, I am going to try using a small water color paint brush on the actual flowers of the blackberry and see how that goes. They're tucked into a garden of perennials which currently has in bloom alliums, lupines and salvia all of which usually attract a lot of pollinators. But I haven't seen a lot of bees this year. My neighbor is complaining about ground bees, but I haven't seen any of those either.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 9:53PM
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prestons_garden(9B SZ 22 HZ 6 SoCal)

How much water do you give it. I know my Triple Crown doesn't like to be wet for long periods.

How often did you apply fertilizer last year and what name brand are you using. Also a rough estimate on quantity too.


    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 10:27PM
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luvahydrangea(Albany, NY 5)

I never use fertilizer just compost from the city. I also don't water, I let nature do its thing.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2012 at 9:33PM
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Blackberries are not self pollinating, they are often self fertile, and that just means they don't need to cross-pollinate with another plant. I have a bee colony and they are in my bramble patch like chrome on a bumper.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2012 at 9:44PM
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