Blackberry plants require a large raised bed because the plants must be spaced 3–4 feet apart (91–122 cm). Your raised bed should be positioned where it will receive 6–8 hours of direct sunlight to promote healthy blackberry growth. The soil in your bed should be loamy, well-draining, and have a pH between 5.5 and 6.5. Plant your new plants in the early spring before the final frost and construct a 3-wire trellis to support them. Use drip irrigation to provide at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) of water weekly. Berries will be ready for harvest as early as June and you should continue to harvest ripened berries 1–2 times a week during July and August.
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6 Vital Steps to Growing Blackberries in Raised Beds
From planting to harvesting and everything in between, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll discuss the requirements for a raised bed of blackberry plants. Additionally, we will describe how to care for your blackberries in a raised bed so you get a delicious harvest!
Place Your Raised Bed in the Right Spot
Growing blackberries in the proper size bed with the right amount of sun is imperative if you want a bountiful harvest and bigger berries. Your plants will do best in full direct sunlight, but you can successfully grow blackberries in partial shade. These large plants need 3–4 feet (1–1.2 m) between them. Additionally, each row of blackberries should be spaced 8–12 feet apart (2.4–3.7 m) in a bed no shallower than 2 feet (60 cm) deep.
- Your raised bed should be at least 2 feet (60 cm) deep to accommodate blackberry roots.
- The minimum dimensions for a bed with 3 individual, small, erect blackberry plants is 2 feet by 6 feet (60 cm by 182 cm).
- Consider the space needed for trellises when growing semi-erect or trailing cultivars.
- Blackberries thrive in full direct sunlight but will tolerate partial shade.
- Your plants can live upwards of 15 years, so careful consideration of bed size and placement is crucial.
Since blackberries love sunlight, try to use a raised bed in a spot that gets the most sun possible. If you are worried about sun-scorched berries, you can use these row covers to protect your plants from harsh UV light. Without sufficient sunlight, your berries will be smaller and the yield will be fewer. Check out our complete guide to blackberry sun needs for more specifics.
Prepare and Fertilize Your Soil
When using a raised bed, you will have full control over the soil contents and can prepare it specifically for your blackberry plants. The pH of the soil should fall between 5.5 and 6.5 for the best results. Loamy, sandy, well-draining soil is key to successful growing. A mix of two parts soil, one part perlite, and one part finely ground bark is recommended for blackberry plants in a raised bed.
- Soil pH should be between 5.5 and 6.5
- Make a soil mix from two parts soil, one part finely ground bark, and one part perlite.
- Mix in 1 pound of this compost per square foot of soil (4.8 kg/square meter).
- Provide 10-10-10 granular fertilizer twice a year; once 2–3 weeks before planting and again in late summer.
Fertilize the soil before planting by mixing nitrogen-rich organic matter into the soil. Mix 1 pound of compost into the soil for every square foot. If you prefer to use commercial fertilizer, use 10-10-10 granular fertilizer at ½-pound per 100 square feet (2.4 kg/100 m²) before planting. Use 3–4 ounces (85-115 g) of fertilizer around the base of each plant again in late summer.
Plant Your Blackberries
It is best to plant blackberry bushes as early as the soil is workable in the spring. Plant blackberries in rows with 3–4 feet (1–1.2 meters) between plants. If you are planting multiple rows of blackberries, allow 8–12 feet (2.5–3.7 meters) between rows. Plant young plants about an inch deeper than they were grown in the nursery.
- Plant blackberries in early spring as soon as the soil is workable.
- Space blackberry plants at least 3 feet (91 cm) apart in a row.
- Rows of blackberries should be 8–12 feet (2.5–3.7 m) apart
- Some trailing varieties may require more space between individual plants in a row, so be sure to research the type of blackberry bush you intend to grow.
- Nursery plants should be planted 1 inch deeper (2.5 cm) than they were previously planted.
- Thoroughly water plants after planting.
- Consider mulching your bed to help the soil maintain moisture and prevent weeds.
Water your blackberries immediately after planting. It is a good idea to mulch your raised bed as well. Mulch helps to conserve soil moisture and reduce weeds. To avoid rot, be sure not to bury the crowns of your blackberry plants in mulch.
Create a Blackberry Trellis
Depending on the blackberry variety you intend to grow, you may need trellises to support your plant and its fruit. Check out our guide to trellising blackberries for an in-depth tutorial on trellis construction. Not all types of blackberries require a trellis. However, using a trellis for all types of blackberries allows them to take up less space, produce more berries, and become easier to harvest.
- Trellising blackberry plants will help them take up less space in your raised bed and make harvesting easier.
- Drive one 8-foot long (3.7 m) 4×4 post into the ground at both ends of your row of blackberries.
- Run three wires between the posts.
- Three-wire trellis systems work well for blackberry plants. The bottom wire should be 2 feet (60 cm) off the ground, the second should be 4 feet (1.2 m) high and the topmost wire should reach about 5 feet (1.5 m).
- Use this 14-gauge garden wire for your trellis.
- These eye bolt screws are ideal for attaching wire to your wooden posts.
The best way to support blackberries is by using a three-wire trellis. You can make these trellises using tall 4x4s, 14-gauge wire, and eye bolt screws. Posts should be staked 2 feet (60 cm) deep at the ends of your blackberry row. Then, you will string wires from one post to the other. Repeat for each row of blackberries so you can train all your plants.
Water Your Blackberries
After planting blackberries, keep the soil moist to a depth of 5 inches (13 cm) for 3 weeks. Then, begin regular watering. Established blackberry plants require 1–2 inches (2.5–5 cm) of water per week. Because blackberries need consistently damp soil, drip irrigation or a mini sprinkler system is recommended. Follow a 1-2-3 method of watering where your raised bed plants receive 1-2 hours of irrigation 2-3 times a week.
- Follow our blackberry watering tips to provide exactly what your plants need.
- Blackberries do best with shallow, frequent watering.
- For new plants, keep the top 5 inches (13 cm) moist for the first 3 weeks after planting.
- For established plants, use drip irrigation or mini sprinklers on a 1-2-3 schedule to provide 1-2 hours of watering 2-3 days a week.
- Be sure to subtract rainfall from watering needs. Use this rain gauge to track how much rain has fallen.
- During hot weather and harvest time, water an additional day per week to maintain necessary hydration.
You will need to adjust your watering schedule depending on the conditions. During periods of heavy rainfall, reduce watering to prevent flooding your plants. Increase watering during hot periods and harvest season to maintain healthy blackberries.
Harvest Fresh Berries
Blackberries will be ready for harvest in late June and continue to ripen throughout July and August. During the harvest season, pick berries once or twice a week. The fruit is ripe when it is fully black and firm. Berries should be wiggled back and forth until separated from the stem, not tugged.
- Ripe blackberries are black, plump, and firm. Duller blackberries will be less acidic than those with a shine to them.
- Pick blackberries by gently moving them up and down rather than pulling them.
- Harvest berries 1–2 times per week.
- Do not wash before storing blackberries—berries spoil faster when wet.
- Harvested berries last for just a few days even when refrigerated.
The best time to harvest is on a dry, sunny day. If berries are wet when you pick them, or if you wash them before storing, then they will perish faster. Always use a clean, dry container to collect fruit. Your berry harvest will be good for a few days. Keep in mind blackberries are quite perishable, so use or freeze them soon.
Do Blackberry Plants Grow Well in a Raised Bed?
Blackberry plants can grow exceptionally well in a raised bed. Since you can prepare your bed ahead of time, the soil pH and nutrients can be balanced prior to planting, making the growing process smoother. Additionally, the raised bed offers protection from some pests and soil contaminants.
How Do You Grow Blackberries in a Raised Bed?
To grow blackberries in a raised bed, just follow these steps:
- Construct a 2-foot-tall (60 cm) raised bed in full sunlight.
- Fill your raised bed with well-draining soil containing perlite, ground bark, and compost.
- Plant blackberries in the spring. Keep plants 3 feet (91 cm) apart and leave 8–12 feet (2.4–3.7 m) between rows of blackberries.
- Build a 3-wire trellis to support your blackberry bushes.
- Water thoroughly after planting. Then, maintain constant moisture in the topsoil with 2–3 waterings per week.
- Harvest berries from June through August. Pluck berries when they are black and firm.
Blackberry plants can live for over a decade, so make sure your raised bed is in a spot that will work long-term. With these six steps, you’ll be growing your own blackberry bushes in no time!