Wild Blackberries

jessakaNovember 10, 2007

I have a lot of wild blackberry bushes growing in my yard under trees, so they are mostly in the shade. I moved here a year ago and had hoped that they would produce, but I haven't seen but one blackberry. Do they need sun? I am pruning them to the ground at this moment, and so I know they will come back, but is there something I can do to make them produce, or do they just need sun? I also wanted them for birds, but I have yet to see any bird nests in them, so I am not sure if they serve a purpose.

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Full sun is best. They fruit on two year old canes so if you cut them way back they will skip a year.

If you can move them into the sun and feed them compost.

You may also need to hand pollinate if you have no bees.

Here is a link that might be useful: Growing Blackberries

    Bookmark   November 10, 2007 at 9:17AM
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rjj1(Norman OK Zone7)

I can't imagine them doing well in shade. Cutting them all down to the ground is probably not a good idea other than to maybe making them easier to move.

A good friend had a very large patch of wild blackberries that always made. He would brush-hog different sections of it every year to keep them under control and to allow access to the inside of the patch. Probably still has them, just haven't been down to pick any.


    Bookmark   November 10, 2007 at 10:27AM
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Blackberries prefer full sun, but will do well in partial shade.

They have 'primocanes' and 'floricanes'. This year's growth will produce next year's berries. After the canes get finished bearing the crop, you put your heavy gloves on and prune them out - leaving this year's cane to produce next year.

Way too much info to go into here.

Personally, I have found it a much more pleasant experience to grow the thornless cultivars

Also, you might try 'tip layering' them instead of trying to transplant them. Just get you a pot and bury it in the ground. Throw some good soil in there, and bury the tip of a cane in it (about 4 - 6 inches or so) and come fall you can cut it loose from the parent plant and you have a new plant. Much easier than digging them up.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2007 at 10:18AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


I have grown cultivated blackberries in the traditional manner, with careful pruning of the canes after bearing, etc., and have had great results over the years. I always give them lots of compost and/or manure.

We have tons of wild blackberries here on our land, growing in everything from full sun to dappled shade to almost full shade. Those that grow in full sun produce a great crop and those that get at least a half-day of sun or a full day of dappled shade produce a so-so crop. The ones in the full shade may flower, but seldom produce any berries.

I tend to leave the native berries on the plants for the wild critters since we have so much wildlife on our land. Native berries tend to be really small in comparison to the cultivated ones. If you want a native type of understory plant that will produce berries for the birds, there are many others that are more suited to grow in the shade of the trees.

It might be less frustrating for you to purchase and plant a few cultivated berries in full or nearly-full sun as it will be really hard to ever get a crop from mostly shaded native berries. This is true whether you want the berries for yourself and your family, or if you wish to leave the harvest on the plants for the birds to ear.

Oh, and out here in the rural boonies where we live, the native berry brambles tend to mostly serve as 'shelter' for numerous (often poisonous) snakes. As near as I can tell, serving as shelter for snakes and food for the birds are their main purpose here on our land. The white flowers and the dark green leaves do look beautiful in the spring time.


    Bookmark   November 17, 2007 at 7:44PM
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To go along with what Dawn said:

I bet you that there are a bunch of us on here that grow bramble fruits. You could probably sweet talk one of us into giving you some starts of one of the cultivated varieties.

For the past few years I have been growing the 'triple crown' thornless. Not for any particular reason other than they were free. And they produce fairly well - nothing like I remember from picking the wild ones as a kid - but fairly well and I don't bleed after picking them.

One thing you have to remember with just about any bramble fruit is - it's a commitment. If you grow the trailing varieties, you have the trellis to deal with first of all. Then there is the (seemingly constant) pruning and training of the canes (of course - I am insane and actually enjoy it) and the chasing down of the stray cane or two.

I am not trying to scare you off from it, but these things will take over an area real quick if you are not prepared for their growth habits, and are not prepared to really commit to caring for them.

Oh, and Dawn - did you know that copperheads had made their way up here? I would'a never thunk it - but I for sure got bit by one last spring. I felt something hit my ankle and looked down - sure enough - it was a copperhead. Nothing serious - just dad-gummed annoying. But I've been real careful since then.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2007 at 9:04PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


Ouch! I am sorry to hear that you were on the receiving end of a copperhead bite and I am glad that it was not a severe one. The lady who lives next door to us was bitten by a copperhead a couple of years ago and had a terrible reaction to it. Her leg swelled up horribly and she was in a wheel chair for about a month. She also had that copper-colored rash near the site of the bite for quite a while.

I didn't realize copperheads had made their way so far north! Because we are surrounded on three sides by the Red River (we are in that part of Love County that extends down into Texas near Gainesville, TX), we have tons and tons of copperheads and lots of rattlesnakes too. I see copperheads more often, but the rattlesnakes scare me more.
My most recent close encounter was with a western diamondback, but the snake I REALLY fear is the timber rattler. We only see a timber rattler on our place maybe two or three times a year, but they are always HUGE and their venom is reputed to be very bad news indeed. Around here they are called 'velvet-tails' because of their velvety black rattles.

I am not sure why snakes are so attracted to brambles, unless they are just using them as protection from predators. All I know is that, if you have berry brambles, you'll have snakes in them.....at least here in our part of the country.

I try to be careful, but I constantly find myself having 'close calls' with venomous snakes, and they are my least favorite wildlife.


    Bookmark   November 18, 2007 at 8:16AM
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barton(z6b OK)

I had a little volunteer bush in part shade this summer. I picked a handful a day and froze them. I had blueberry pie last night.

One bush = one small pie = one year's harvest.

Not much economy in that but DANG it was good.


    Bookmark   December 4, 2007 at 11:11PM
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choehne(Zone 5)

I am new here and looking to prune the wild blackberries in my backyard. Last years crop was amazing. It was quite a surprise after just purchasing the house in the winter. We were getting at least 2 quarts a day and sometimes as many as 5 or 6! Now that the growing season is coming, we are interested in the best way to ensure another good crop year. There are alot of other weed like plants growing around the stalks. I know I should get rid of much of these as to not choke out the blackberries. I am just wondering if we should have cut back the Blackberry stalks, or if they are ok with the unbridled, natural growing they have been accustomed to. I have no idea if any of the prior owners have ever tried to tame the wonderful fruit in the backyard. Anyone with any ideas, thoughts, or constructive ideas please pass it along.

Thanks and happy growing!


    Bookmark   March 22, 2010 at 3:34PM
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In my two wild patches there are other, much larger, brambles growing. I have been assuming they are not blackberries; I call them "nasties." Big, long thorns, no berries to compensate for those traits. I've been clipping them out of the blackberry patches. Have I don't right or are they, perhaps, the non-bearing blackberries. I think not because I'd think first-year growth would be small, not huge.

Second, I am interested in propagating more "wild" patches in open weed fields and field edges, etc. I use my blackberries in smoothies and have actually come to like the seeds (texture) in there. My wife likes to strain the seeds out, which has the added benefit of having seeds that can be planted "out there." Any thoughts on encouraging new blackberry patches?

    Bookmark   August 20, 2010 at 5:55PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Without being able to see the large brambles you're cutting back, we have no idea what they are. However, in our wild patch, they are indeed the current year's growth that will give you berries next year. The current year's growth can get nice and big because all the energy that first year is going into producing the canes and the bigger and sturdier the canes, the better next year's berry harvest will be. Next year, the energy from those big canes will go into producing the berries even while new primocanes are emerging to produce berries in the following year.

The standard way to propagate bramble fruit is by taking cuttings. You also can dig up and transplant suckers from the current plants but if you do that, be sure to cut them back to only a few inches tall when you move them and expect no fruit from them the first year (you might get some, but it isn't guaranteed). By cutting them back, you're ensuring they can put their energy into establishing a good root system.

If you grow regular, named varieties of commercially-bred and purchased bramble fruit, keep the wild ones as far from them as possible. Wild blackberries are notorious for carrying viruses and you don't want to put them near your purchased berry brambles.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2010 at 8:31AM
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Hi Dawn,

Snakes like the brambels because that is where the rats are. I am in Carthage Texas and I have a home in Sugar Land. I am looking for a source for free blackberry plants for my orchard in Carthage from the Sugar Land or the Carthage area. In return I will offer you a grafted bartlet pear or a grafted pear fom my farm that is in my oppenion th best pear I have ever tasted. Bill

    Bookmark   January 23, 2011 at 7:24PM
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