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Blackberry Spacing — The Ultimate Guide

Blackberry Spacing — The Ultimate Guide

With just 62 calories per cup, blackberries are among the healthiest snacks you can ever have. Not only are these fruits low in calories, they also have a small content of sodium and they’re very rich in vitamin C and bioflavonoids. 

These delightfully tart fruits also boast being an excellent source of antioxidants. Given their benefits, it is no wonder so many gardeners love to grow them.

If you’re thinking about planting blackberries, there are just a few basics you need to master. One of these has to do spacing the plants correctly. 

So in the following post, we’ll provide a detailed answer to the common question, “how far apart should you plant blackberries?” Read on to learn more.

 

How Much Space do Blackberries Need?

Trailing blackberries require 3 to 5 feet space between the plants and 10 feet between rows. Erect varieties require 3 feet of space between the cultivars and 8 feet between the rows. For semi-erect species, leave 4-foot spaces between the plants and 8 feet of space between the rows. 

 

Blackberry Varieties

To determine how to space your blackberries, you should first get acquainted with how they grow, and the different types that exist.

First off, these fruits belong to the bigger rose family. So like roses, they’re produced on long, mostly thorny canes.

New canes or ‘primocanes’ as they’re popularly known, emerge from either the roots or crown on an annual basis. These are what provide the following year’s fruit. 

Gardeners focus on these canes’ growth habits to know how to space them. In that regard, blackberries can be classified into three:

  • Trailing
  • Semi-erect
  • Erect

 

Trailing blackberries

These are grown widely across the world, with the Rubus ursinus being the most popular in the Pacific Northwest region. These blackberries are produced on very long canes that grow up to 20 feet long. 

As implied in their name, the fruits’ primocanes trail along the ground as they cannot support themselves. 

Trailing blackberries are easy to identify because they produce fruits early on in the season. Plus, the emerging fruits have small seeds and a very nice aroma and flavor. 

Examples of blackberries in this category include ‘marion’, ‘columbia star’, ‘hall’s beauty’,  and some raspberry-blackberry hybrids like the loganberry.

The rows in which you plant these blackberry plants should be 10 feet apart. This way, the plant can grow up to 5 feet in any direction it takes.  Also, adhere to a spacing of 3 to 5 feet between the individual plants. 

 

Erect blackberries

These blackberries’ distinguishing characteristic is their ability to produce stiff, erect canes, which then produce fruits. 

Commercial gardeners still prefer to set up support structures for these plants to prevent breakage. But this is completely optional for home gardeners. 

Important to note though is that these cultivars emerge from both the crown and the roots. As such, they can grow invasively; hence, the need to leave adequate spacing between individual plants and rows. 

If you’re wondering about its fruits, the erect canes tend to produce less tasty berries compared to the trailing variety. Their yields are also not as bountiful as those of semi-erect, but they’re much sturdier and are the least prone to damage. 

Consider spacing the cultivars no less than 3 feet apart. For the rows, leave at least 8 feet of space between them.

 

Semi-erect blackberries

As you might have guessed from the name, the growth habit of these berries blends that of the trailing and erect varieties.

While they do grow somewhat upright, they still need to be trellised for ample support. You can identify these cultivars as they generate vigorous thick primocanes, which emerge from the plant’s crown. 

They are also the latest to fruit, producing fruits in late summer between the months of August and October. 

Unfortunately, the fruits produced aren’t as flavorful as those you get from the trailing species.

But they make up for this by offering bountiful yields. Plus, their canes are thornless, which makes for very easy picking. 

Examples of blackberries in this class are ‘triple-crown’, ‘galaxy’, ‘eclipse’, and ‘twilight’. 

For proper growth, you’ll need to space these berries’ plants at least 4 feet apart. Also, leave a space of no less than 8 feet between the rows. 

 

Other Considerations

Apart from blackberry species, there are a couple of other factors you should take into account when spacing these plants

 

Watering

Watering your blackberry plants on a regular basis is crucial to ensure they produce plump, juicy fruits. 

During the growing season, they need 1 to 2 inches of water weekly. If it’s not raining enough, you may have to supplement by watering the plants manually. 

One thing you should keep in mind is that these plants are shallow-rooted. It means that you only need to water the plant at the surface. 

To ensure you’re watering correctly, ensure there’s adequate space between the rows. Proper spacing also enables you to water each plant thoroughly.  

 

Fertilizing

Another factor that helps the canes produce succulent berries is proper fertilization. In fact, the right fertilizer results in the growth of healthy green foliage as well as juicy fruits. 

To that end, these plants require fertilizing about two times throughout their growth cycle.

The first feeding should be done once growth has started. Ideally, this should be in spring about 3 to 4 weeks after planting. The second feeding is best done after harvesting. 

You should plant your blackberries in such a way that there’s ample space between the individual plants and rows. This way, you’ll be able to move around freely when you’re fertilizing. 

 

Exposure to Sunlight

Another reason why you should space your blackberry plants sufficiently is to allow for maximum exposure to sunlight.

Here’s the thing, they need at least eight hours of full sun to achieve good flowering and fruit production. 

If you plant them too closely together, they’ll end up competing for the little sunlight that is available. In the end, you’ll end up with plants that have nice shrubs but very little fruit. 

 

Proximity to Other Plants

Along with spacing your berries correctly, ensure that you’re not planting them too close to plants, such as tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplants. In fact, you should not plant them in a site where these crops were grown previously. 

The reason for this is that all these plants tend to be vulnerable to similar diseases and pests. So by planting them too close, you risk your berry plants getting attacked by pests or diseases. This can then hinder fruit production. 

 

Conclusion

Wondering how much space to leave between your blackberries? Well, start by considering a couple of factors. 

First off, think about the specific variety of blackberry you’re growing. Different blackberry species have different spacing requirements.

Secondly, consider proximity to other disease-vulnerable plants like tomatoes and potatoes. You’ll also want to account for this plant’s growing conditions like sunlight, watering, and fertilization.