Can we grow berries here in Colorado (blackberries, raspberries)

redley_gardener(5 - Golden CO)September 6, 2009

I'm new to the Garden Web and am finding myself completely obsessed! I had originally posted this in a different forum. After getting an incredibly detailed email from Pete Tallman, I am curious if blackberries can grow in Golden and I am posting in the more appropriate site.

All my research stated that blackberries and raspberries can grow in zone 5. I have a small little patch of summer raspberries. My original bed of raspberries was concreted and became a parking lot while I was deployed to Iraq :( After reading what Pete had to say, I am saddened to learn that I probably should wait until the spring to plant my berry plants.

I have a few questions I hope that local gardeners can assist me with:

1) Can blackberries be grown here in zone 5 - Golden Colorado?

2) Is it ok to plant blackberries and raspberries now? The online companies are willing to ship, just want to ensure I'm not throwing money into a pile of dirt. Would it be better to amend the soil now and get a better start in the spring?

3)I always prefer to buy local, as it stimulates my home economy. Does anyone know of a local nursery that sells quality berries in the spring, or do any of you have berries that you would be willing to sell/trade? (Details of what I'm looking for are below).

4) If I purchase online, I'm looking at Nourse or Indiana Plant Co. Any other recommendations?

5) Do you have / where do you recommend I find the following:

- Thornless blackberry (Apache and Navajo. Natchez is my 2nd choice after Apache. I've heard that Triple Crown or Chester may do well here also)

- Thornless everbearing red raspberries (prefer Carolina. 2nd choice - Heritage)

- Thornless everbearing yellow raspberries (prefer Anne)

- Thornless summerbearing red raspberries (prefer Boyne)

- Thornless summerbearing black raspberries (prefer Jewell & Mac Black)

- Thornless summerbearing purple (prefer Royalty)

Thank you for your advice,

New Berry Gardener,


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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Hi Redley,

Welcome to RMG!

I canÂt answer all your questions, but you can definitely grow raspberries and blackberries around hereÂand many/most other small fruits. Heritage raspberries will be easy to find locallyÂitÂs one of the most common varieties.

IÂd agree that youÂd be better off waiting till spring to plantÂthey should really take off if planted in springÂbutÂif you got them in soon, theyÂd also be putting out roots much of the winter, so I guess you really could go either way! No help with that answer!!! If youÂre getting past the end of September I think youÂd definitely be better off waiting.

Two good local nurseries in Denver are Timberline on the west side of townÂand the closest to you, and PaulinoÂs at I25 and 58th Avenue. Both of them have quality stock. IÂll stick a link to Timberline on the bottom of my reply, and hereÂs a copy/paste link to PaulinoÂs.

PaulinoÂs shows they carry 7 varieties of raspberries and 1 variety of blackberriesÂbut they donÂt name the varieties!

I tried to check the Timberline site for their small fruit list, and they seem to be working on that part of the site right nowÂbut when they get it going again theyÂll have a list of the varieties they carry.

If youÂre at all into perennials, Timberline is far and away the best in Denver for variety, with PaulinoÂs being a fairly close second.

I donÂt know how much you checked out RMG, but you may have noticed that we just had a plant swap today! We also have a spring swap, and there are almost always people who bring raspberries to that oneÂtho you may not know the variety names of any you get (or you may!) If youÂre interested in coming to the swap, we have it in May sometime, and the thread with info will probably start sometime in April. Keep an eye out for it! Everyone is welcome!

Thank you for serving in Iraq,

Here is a link that might be useful: Timberline Gardens

    Bookmark   September 6, 2009 at 11:39PM
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This spring, I planted raspberries & blackberries. CSU recommends only red & yellow raspberries but I know there are people on here who grow blackberries, so I decided to try it. I couldn't pass up the sale price in a mail order catalog that gets mixed reviews. I'm about to find out how customer service is, as I do have a few plants that didn't make it.

Here's what I planted:

Canby: red, thornless, summer bearing raspberry
Caroline: red fall bearing (should be seeing some berries soon)
Anne: Yellow fall bearing (also should have some soon!)

Triple Crown thornless blackberry - still small but there are just a few berries on the one plant of the 3 that lived. I may have these planted in too much shade. They're corner is shadier than I remembered from last year.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tales of a Transplanted Gardener

    Bookmark   September 7, 2009 at 2:32AM
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That would be "their" corner!

    Bookmark   September 7, 2009 at 2:33AM
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redley_gardener(5 - Golden CO)

Thank you so very much! Greenbean, I had checked out your garden yesterday, looks great! Skybird, I saw the late and a few plants short:)

I'm going to head to Timberline today. Hopefully they'll all do great. If not, back to basics in the spring.
I'll wait on the blackberries until next year and keep my fingers crossed.

Any other advice would be greatly appreciated.

They will be against my brick house which is west facing, getting full morning sun. I have read different types of fertilizer to get (10-10-10), as they prefer soil 5.5-6.5.

Anyone know where I can get my soil tested?
I know soil can be tested through Colorado Extension, but not sure how to make that happen.


    Bookmark   September 7, 2009 at 12:20PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Hi Redley,

I just have a minute--getting ready to leave on vacation on Wednesday--but here's a link to the CSU Extension Soil-Water-Plant Testing page. I think you can find what you need there. CSU is the best professional place to get it done, and the best--and probably still the cheapest. Rather than spending hours on the site looking for what you need, I recommend calling or emailing somebody to explain what you want to do and get an answer that way.

I've never done any testing! I plant stuff and see how it does! Regardless of the analysis, for almost everything the best thing you can do for them is add lots and lots and lots and lots of good organic matter. If you have a place, start your own compost pile! Best stuff you can get, and if it's built right on the surface of the soil, you'll also be "growing" lots of worms!

BTW, you don't need to have any plants to be welcome at the swap! There are always WAY plenty for everybody! The Spring Swap will probably be in Castle Rock at Singcharlene's again.

If you get this before you go to Timberline, Kelly (Grummons) is the (part owner) expert around there. If he's there, see if you can find him to answer your questions. (Tell him Dee sent you!)

Gotta go,

Here is a link that might be useful: CSU Soil - Water - Plant Testing Lab

    Bookmark   September 7, 2009 at 1:20PM
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I just planted one raspberry and one blackberry bush this afternoon! I'm going to be careful to babysit the water level since it's so hot but figure they'll get an OK start this fall since it's so spring-like in temp and all that. I also planted a blueberry bush! Go figure I read after I planted the one that to bear fruit I need a second. I have room on the other side of the window the first was planted on, just need to get another plant and find time to plant it.

I read AFTER I got the plants that spring is the best time, but I figure fall could work out well too, since I'm planting at the beginning of fall. Worst case, I just wasted $30. Planting an apple tree tomorrow or next day as well. It's acclimating to the spot in the yard that it will be planted in right now. Not that you have to do that, but I've had other stuff to do LOL.

I'm not at all sure what types I got, but both of the black and raspberry bushes I have are thorny and flower in the spring. No fruit will come until your canes are 2 years old so don't expect anything at all your first year. Also don't prune for the first 2 years, from what I read.

The blackberries I got said they were best in zone 5. The raspberries and blueberries said zone 4. I hope they do alright!

    Bookmark   September 8, 2009 at 7:07PM
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How long they take to bear fruit depends on what type they are. Fall bearing raspberries (like Caroline & Anne) bear fruit on this year's canes so I will have some fruit this fall. I can't remember if they will bear a light crop next summer on the same canes as well - I'll have to look up when to prune them. Those canes will die and need to be pruned out. The patch will continue to grow as the plants send out suckers and fill in the area.

Summer bearing plants (like my Canby and Triple Crowns) bear fruit on one year old canes. I got a couple of berries from my Canby this year and have a few trying to ripen on the Triple Crown as well - they are growing on the part of the plant that was above ground when I planted them this spring. Next year's berries will grow on the canes that grew this summer. If you have summer bearing plants, you'll likely need to bend down the canes (though Triple Crown may be too thick) and mulch them or if they don't bend, try to shelter them somewhat from the dry winter winds to protect next summer's crop. If those canes die, no fruit for you next summer!

Also, Caroline and Anne aren't thornless although my Anne bushes don't seem to have very many thorns.

I would like to try some black raspberries too but I think it's advised to plant them quite a ways from the reds. I can't remember exactly why, but it may be a disease issue. I'm waiting on getting those for a little while.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2009 at 8:08PM
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Redley - there are also other berries that do well here - particularly red currants, but also blackcurrants and gooseberries. Great fresh or for jam!


    Bookmark   September 8, 2009 at 9:46PM
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irisgirl(Z5 - CO)

As you have seen here already, yes - yes berries grow well here. Some wise person somewhere said that blackberries and raspberries (which are near twins?) should be grown at least 100 yards apart from each other. The CSU folks can explain better than I.

I can provide all the raspberry canes you want (free)in the spring; fall is not a good season for bare cane planting as there is so little chance for roots to develop. I have a friend nearby who can get blackberry canes for you. Please let me know if you are interested. They are very prolific. Best you have a good space you can confine them in as they spread rapidly! both raz and black...offshoots everywhere!

BTW - my Raz are Heritage. We have picked and frozen about a gallon of fruit already this year, and put up abt 6 little jars of preserves.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2009 at 2:16AM
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Dan Staley

And if you are planting any more than, say, 30sf, invest in a cane cutter. Your life will be much easier at cane cutting time.


    Bookmark   September 9, 2009 at 9:53AM
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redley_gardener(5 - Golden CO)

Iris girl,
I would love love love to take some of the raspberries and your neighbors blackberries off your hands :)
Do you know what type of blackberries she/he has? Thorny/non-thorny? Feel free to email me.

Ian, I'll definatly look into the berries you suggested.

Joi, it sounds like you got some summer raspberries. From what I've read, they should do well here in Colorado. They like acidic soil. I just got a ph/water/light reader from a nursery for less than $10, probably not as accurate as CU Extention, but easier and have my results immediatly. I can always re-test later. My soil is alkaline (high pH). I asked Timberline and they suggested to add either sulfer or Miracle Grow Miracid (I think that's the name of the product). That and some compost for the new berries. I'm going to fertilize the older one remaining berry plant that I have with some liquid fertilizer before the winter hits. Good luck with your berries. :)

    Bookmark   September 11, 2009 at 11:25PM
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Dan Staley

Aside from the fact I'm putting in a small raspberry patch in our yard, we were at a function yesterday - the Art Farm at West Wash Park community garden - and at least 10 plots had raspberries, and maybe 5 had blackberries. Wonderful event, very nice plots, very few received little attention and most were well-loved by thoughtful ppl.


    Bookmark   September 13, 2009 at 9:21PM
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rt_peasant(5 CO)

Redley, I'm just up the road a bit from you, and I would say most definitely, you can grow all of these berries. I planted red raspberries, black raspberries, and blackberries against my back fence last year, and they're all producing this year. I didn't have any issues with winter kill.

Unfortunately, the labels on my berries just said something generic like "thornless blackberry" or "red raspberry", so I can't tell you what varieties I have growing. The thornless blackberry is a heavy producer. It's been producing big clumps of berries since early August, and it shows no signs of slowing down. If I could just figure out how to keep the raccoons out of them!

I just got a soil analysis back from CSU. It cost $22, and it tells you everything about your soil. Organic matter, pH, N, P, K, Zn, Fe, Mn, Cu. I found out that my pH is 7.2 (typical for Colorado), my N is moderately low, my organic matter is low, and everything else is high.

irisgirl, I think it's red raspberries and black raspberries that need to be planted far apart. I have red raspberries and blackberries intermingling, and both seem to be doing fine.

"Thornless Blackberries" - I wish I knew what variety these are!

More "thornless blackberries"

Mid-morning snack.

Black raspberries ripening first week of July. We called these "blackcaps" where I grew up in upstate NY.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2009 at 11:58AM
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I need to resurrect this thread for a moment - is anyone planting raspberries in shade? I have a north-facing wall that gets all shade and the raspberries go crazy there. Across the yard on my south-facing wall (sun galore), nothing much. Am I crazy?? I thought all fruits needed piles of sun to do well. (I should note that these are all leftovers from the previous owners, I treat them as a bonus and do nothing at all to care for them. Sad, I know, I will mend my ways as soon as I know where I really SHOULD have them all planted.)

    Bookmark   January 11, 2011 at 5:21PM
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well we (me and Polygonum tinctorium) have wild raspberries at our house (our soil is not very good but they grow and come back every year and have berries)

    Bookmark   January 16, 2011 at 5:57PM
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runswithscissors(MT 4/5)

I would like to revive this thread one more time. I was hoping someone could give me clarification on the "separate by 100 feet" thing. Does anyone know for certain why this may or used to be the theory. I want to place several types of raspberries intermingled for a full season harvest, and then give blackberries it's own patch close by. None of my gardening books give the skinny on this subject.

Also, a tip from my 87 year old father....raspberries LOVE pine bark mulch. Not the bark that is broken up or shredded that you can buy, but the slabs of bark that fall off the rounds when you get ready to split for winter. Just pile these slabs around the berry patch and watch them go crazy.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 3:45PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado
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