Why isn't my blackberry bush growing?

sakihAugust 3, 2014

I planted a blackberry bush in late May. The plant looks healthy, but it is only slightly larger today than it was when I put it in the ground two months ago and the canes are still very small. Also, it has not flowered or borne much fruit. (See photo.)

I water it regularly (about 1" per week), have covered the ground with mulch, and give it some miracle-gro plant food approximately once very 3-4 weeks.

I am a novice gardener, so any suggestions would be very welcome. Thanks.

This post was edited by sakih on Sun, Aug 3, 14 at 1:49

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Those canes that you have today... they won't produce any fruit this year but they will be your fruiting canes next year.

Blackberries put up new canes each year, which flower the following year, then die (but are replaced by new canes, which fruit the following year, and so on).

The canes your plant puts up next year (2015) will be MUCH bigger than the canes you have currently, but won't fruit until 2016.

This year your plant is just establishing a good root system and basically getting ready for next year, as next year will be its first full year in your garden.

When your plant produces fruit next year, don't pick the berries as soon as they turn black or you will disappointed as they will be sour. Leave them on the canes for an extra day or two until they get softer and lose their shininess and become a kind of a dull black.... yummmmmm!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 1:34AM
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Thanks for the quick and helpful reply. I had read that blackberries only fruit on 2-year old canes, but I hadn't realized that the canes wouldn't grow to full size the first year. I'm relieved to know that my plant isn't diseased!

One follow-up question: There were in fact a few berries on one of the canes, perhaps about 5 or 6. Is that typical on a new plant, or does that mean my blackberry bush is already two years old? It was in a pot when I bought it, and unfortunately, at the time I didn't know enough to ask how old it was. I went back to the nursery this weekend, but they have already liquidated their spring/summer inventory and are closed until mid-September.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 1:48AM
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You plant was established last year and had grown a very small cane. The berries you had this year came from that small section. Look closely at the place you picked the berries from and you should see the cane and most likely the section is declining. Your plant looks normal. Good luck, Bill

    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 5:14AM
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Thanks 2010ChampsBCS. When you say the plant looks normal, do you think it will continue to grow next year? I thought blackberry canes were supposed to grow 6-10' tall, so I'm just wondering if this will continue to grow or if it has already reached its maximum height. I think don555 was suggesting it will continue to grow bigger next year; do you think so, too? Thanks.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 3:16PM
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Like most other plants, they take time to get going. Your watered and fertilized plant will indeed become much larger in years to come. Ripe berry staining of brick and mortar is a possibility in future years, try to train the plant out about 2 feet from the wall, they are quite pliable when the canes become long.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 11:57PM
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The first year I planted my blackberries the canes basically didn't get bigger than when I bought them, maybe a few feet long. Now they put out canes that get at least 10 feet long each summer. In your zone, I wouldn't be surprised if you get even longer canes. Be patient!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 2:30AM
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larry_gene and don55,

That's great news! I'm feeling much more optimistic about my blackberry bush now. :)

Thank you for your help!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 11:52PM
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Mine took a year to really start growing as well. This year they have been growing wild. The first year they mainly are getting their roots established.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 12:07PM
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