Blackberry 5 Steps After Harvest

Blackberry 5 Steps After Harvest

Here are 5 things I do at the end of the season after the blackberry harvest.
1. Prune the floricanes.
2. Tip the canes to encourage laterals.
3. Add compost/fertilizer.
4. Cane management – attach to trellis.
5. Blackberry propagation – Tip Layering.

Blackberry Propagation Made Easy with Suckers

Propagate Blackberry Plants using Suckers

How to easily propagate your blackberry plants using suckers.
Blackberry plants will send out roots under the soil that will spread out and send up suckers. These are new blackberry plants that will begin growing in that area. If they come up in an area that is good for your row or garden then you’re all set! If they pop up outside the row or garden then you have a few options.

1. Dig them up and transplant to another area of the row or garden.
2. Transplant them to a pot and grow them in containers.
3. Give them away to family, friends or neighbors.
4. Mow/Cut them down.

I’ve found tip layering to be the most successful way for me to propagate blackberry plants.

Below listed in order are the ways I find to be most successful for propagating blackberries:

1. Tip layering also called tip rooting. I do this most often and it is very simple. Place the tip of a cane in a small cup or pot and cover it with soil. In 4 weeks you can cut it from the main plant and hand it to someone else to plant in their own garden.

2. Blackberry suckers. Dig up the suckers and move them to a pot. Try to keep as much of the roots as you can. Make sure they get sufficient water after transplanting so they can grow their roots.

3. Serpentine layering. This works with trailing varieties of blackberries as they are easy to bend down into pots and over again to several more pots with a single cane.

4. Root cuttings. I’ve had some success with root cuttings but not as much as the top 3.

5. Cane cuttings. I have tried this method several times but have not had any success. I’ve tried keeping the cuttings indoors and outdoors in the shade. I’ve also tried keeping moisture in soil and misting the leaves but have yet to find the right combo to keep them alive. Thankfully, the other 4 methods work well for me!

Free Blackberry Plants with Tip Layering

Propagate Blackberries with Tip Layering

You can easily propagate your blackberry plants by tip layering them. Also called tip rooting – I like to do this directly into small plastic cups making it easy to verify that the roots are growing and then share with others! I reuse a plastic container and drill a few holes in the bottom for drainage. Take a blackberry (or raspberry) cane and bring it down and bury the tip about 2-3 inches into the middle of the cup. Cover with a rock on top to keep it in place. Check back in about 3 weeks to see the roots along the bottom. To separate, go back up the cane leaving at least 3 or 4 nodes of leaves and cut. Now you can transplant this to another area of your garden or simply give the cup to family or friends that want to grow their own!

How to Serpentine Layer Blackberry Plants

Serpentine Layering Blackberries

Serpentine Layering is one of the two ways I propagate my blackberry and raspberry plants. Trailing varieties work best as they are easier to layer in this manner. I take a cane that easily bends down to a pot and I lay it across and bury the center of the cane. As it grows, usually about another week or 2 then I bring it over to another pot and repeat the process. The most I’ve gotten is 7 new plants from a single serpentine layered cane!

Tip Layering Blackberry Plants Part 1

Tip Layering Blackberries / Tip Rooting Blackberry Plants.
Back in April 2020 I received 4 Natchez blackberry plants and built a small raised row down my fence line and planted them. They have done very well since then. Growing from only 4-6 inch small plants to today being over 6 feet tall!

4 Blackberry plants in the soil
4 Blackberry plants in the soil

September 29th, 2020
Here they are bending side to side but 2 are still over 6 feet tall and the other 2 are over 5 feet high. They have side shoots and other canes that are reaching over down to the ground and ready for propagation by tip layering. If the tip of the cane touches the ground they will start growing roots and you will have a new blackberry plant that you can then separate from the vine and transplant someplace else or give to a neighbor.

Blackberry Plants 6 feet tall
Blackberry Plants 6 feet tall

Start by selecting a shoot or cane that can easily be brought to ground level and into a pot. Fill the pot 1/2 full with good quality soil and then take the cane and trim off the leaves near the end.

Tip layering trim leaves
Tip layering trim leaves

Place the tip into the pot.

Tip layering place in pot
Tip layering place in pot

Back fill the pot with more soil to hold in place.

Tip layering back fill dirt
Tip layering back fill dirt

I had several canes that were good candidates for tip layering so I ended up doing 7 pots that I will replant and share a few with friends.

7 tip layered blackberry plants
7 tip layered blackberry plants

November 24th, 2020
8 weeks later the tip has rooted and it has come back up thru the soil.

Tip Layer 8 weeks later with tip coming up thru soil
Tip Layer 8 weeks later with tip coming up thru soil

Simple I-Trellis for Blackberry Plants

My 4 Natchez Blackberry plants have grown considerably since being planted on April 24th, 2020. After about 4 months of growth – some are up to 48 inches tall and they are folding over and getting close to the ground. I had built a very simple short I-Trellis with garden twine that is no longer enough for them. You can see that trellis video here. To see my 4 Natchez Blackberry plants from the start with video and timeline pictures click here. It was time for an upgrade. Here’s how I made a very simple I-Trellis for my Blackberry plants.

I Trellis for Blackberry Plants

What started out as 4-6 inch plugs have now after about 4 months grown up to 48 inches tall!

Natchez Blackberry plants 3 and 4 on April 24th 2020
Natchez Blackberry plants 3 and 4 on April 24th 2020
Natchez Blackberry plants 3 and 4 on Sept 1st, 2020
Natchez Blackberry plants 3 and 4 on Sept 1st, 2020

Grow Blackberries

My first attempt at growing food in my backyard. I started with watermelons and cantaloupes and that did very well. I began modestly with just a small section for a few watermelon plants and another small section for a few cantaloupe plants. I enjoyed it so much that I then got really into it and ended up using 4 cattle panels to build an arch trellis for each section to grow my food vertically. The main reason for this was to minimize space used so my kids could still play in the main middle part of the backyard but also grow as much as possible! Next – blackberries! As I wrote earlier, this was my very first time gardening and growing food and there are so many things I’ve learned along the way. I would do several things different if I could go back and I’ll most likely talk about those along the way. Now for the blackberries…

Just like with the watermelon and cantaloupes – I started modest because I really wasn’t sure how it was all going to go. What started as 4 small plants ended up being 14 blackberry plants both Natchez and Prime Ark Freedom.

April 16th, 2020
Here’s my start – put in a border down the fence line and added a mixture of garden bed soil, top soil and organic compost.

Blackberry Raised Bed
Blackberry Raised Bed

April 24th, 2020
Natchez blackberry plants arrived!

Natchez Blackberry plants sealed
Natchez Blackberry plants sealed
Natchez Blackberry plants ready to be planted
Natchez Blackberry plants ready to be planted

In the ground – rounded out the soil making them up on a hill in a row!

Natchez blackberry plants in the raised row
Natchez blackberry plants in the raised row

April 28th, 2020
Wind damage – it has been very windy down the fence line and my small blackberry plants are being roughed up by the wind. Time to build a small temporary support trellis to keep them upright as they get established.

Support string trellis for my blackberry plants

May 4th, 2020
Transplant shock? The blackberry plants might be experiencing some transplant shock. These pictures don’t show it very well because this was the day before and the edges got even darker. Purplish color around the edges of several leaves. Thankfully they made it thru and the leaves are all green again.

Blackberry Transplant Shock
Blackberry Transplant Shock

June 21st, 2020
Good growth and stronger stalks. Picture below is of plants 1, 2 and 3 from left to right. Plant number 2 is the largest of all 4.

Natchez Blackberry plants 1-3 on June 21st, 2020
Natchez Blackberry plants 1-3 on June 21st, 2020
Natchez Blackberry plant 2 on June 21st, 2020
Natchez Blackberry plant 2 on June 21st, 2020

July 18th, 2020
Doubling in size or more. It seemed like a bit of shaky start but now they are really taking off!

Natchez Blackberry plants 1 and 2 on July 18th, 2020
Natchez Blackberry plants 1 and 2 on July 18th, 2020
Natchez Blackberry plants 3 and 4 on July 18th, 2020
Natchez Blackberry plants 3 and 4 on July 18th, 2020

August 1st, 2020
Getting taller!

Natchez Blackberry plants 1 and 2 on Aug 1st, 2020
Natchez Blackberry plants 1 and 2 on Aug 1st, 2020
Natchez Blackberry plants 3 and 4 on Aug 1st, 2020
Natchez Blackberry plants 3 and 4 on Aug 1st, 2020

August 24th, 2020
Time to build a simple I Trellis with T-posts for my blackberry plants.

Build a simple I Trellis with T-Posts for my blackberry plants

September 1st, 2020
New I-Trellis with T-posts as they are growing fast and starting to fall over.

Natchez Blackberry plants 1 and 2 on Sept 1st, 2020
Natchez Blackberry plants 1 and 2 on Sept 1st, 2020
Natchez Blackberry plants 3 and 4 on Sept 1st, 2020
Natchez Blackberry plants 3 and 4 on Sept 1st, 2020

Natchez Blackberry Measurements:
July 1st, 2020
Plant 1: 17 inches
Plant 2: 30.5 inches
Plant 3: 25 inches
Plant 4: 18 inches

September 1st, 2020
Plant 1: 33 inches
Plant 2: 48 inches
Plant 3: 42 inches
Plant 4: 47 inches

Good growth considering all were about 4-6 inch plugs when I first planted them back on April 24th, 2020.

September 26th, 2020
Tip Layering Blackberry Plants – All of my plants are tall and easily tip over to the ground so today I will try tip layering for the first time. Here’s my video:

October 1st, 2020
Two plants over 6 feet tall and the other two around 5 feet tall.

Natchez Blackberry plants 1 and 2 on Oct 1st, 2020
Natchez Blackberry plants 1 and 2 on Oct 1st, 2020
Natchez Blackberry plants 3 and 4 on Oct 1st, 2020
Natchez Blackberry plants 3 and 4 on Oct 1st, 2020

October 17th, 2020
Blackberry Tip Layering update – 21 days later!