Watering Blackberries – When To Water Blackberry Bushes

By: Amy Grant

Blackberries are a sometimes overlooked berry. In some areas of the country, they grow unbidden and as vigorous as weeds. In other regions, the sweet nectar of the berry is sought after, cultivated and the fruit eagerly anticipated. While easy to grow, the succulent qualities of the berries are reliant on knowing when to water blackberry vines.

Watering blackberries sufficiently will yield the largest, juiciest fruit. So when it comes to blackberry irrigation, how much water do blackberries need?

When to Water Blackberry Vines

If you live in an area with average rainfall, you probably won’t need to water blackberries after the first growing year once they have established. The first year of growth, however, is another matter.

When watering blackberries, always water during the day and water at the base of the plants to minimize fungal disease. During the growing season, blackberry plants should be kept consistently moist from mid-May through October.

How Much Water do Blackberries Need?

When it comes to blackberry irrigation, plants need to be kept consistently moist after the first 2-3 weeks from planting. This means that the top inch or so (2.5 cm.) of soil should be kept moist for the first few weeks.

Thereafter, give the plants 1-2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm.) of water per week during the growing season and up to 4 inches (10 cm.) per week during harvest season. Keep in mind that blackberry plants are shallow rooted so the root system isn’t diving down into the soil for moisture; it all needs to be at the surface.

That said, while the plants should be kept consistently moist, do not allow the soil to become sodden which can result in fungal root diseases.

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Soil Preparation for Blackberry Plants

Preparing your soil before you plant will greatly improve your plant’s performance and promote healthy, vigorous growth. It is a good idea to have your soil tested to determine if it is lacking in any essential minerals and nutrients. This can be done through your County Extension Office or with one of our digital meters.

The goal of soil preparation is to replenish vital minerals and nutrients, as well as break up and loosen any compacted soil.

NOTE: This is part 5 in a series of 11 articles. For a complete background on how to grow blackberry plants , we recommend starting from the beginning.

When To Prepare Your Soil

Soil preparation can be done at any time that the ground is not too wet or frozen. Your trees may be planted even when temperatures are quite cool. If a hard frost is expected, it is advisable to delay planting for a while until temperatures become more moderate. Generally, as long as your soil is workable, it is fine to plant.

How To Prepare Your Soil

  • Roots grow faster when they’re spread out. Dig the hole deep and wide enough so the root system has plenty of room to easily expand. Keep the topsoil in a separate pile so you can put it in the bottom of the hole, where it’ll do the most good.
  • To loosen the soil, mix dehydrated cow manure, garden compost or peat moss (up to 1/3 concentration) into your pile of topsoil. Make sure the peat moss you get is either baled sphagnum or granular peat. You can also add our Coco-Fiber Potting Medium or 2 or more inches of organic material and work in evenly with the existing soil.

Your lawn can provide you with ideal organic materials such as grass clippings and shredded leaves. Not only will the grass and leaves break down to provide soil nutrients, but they will help loosen the soil as well. You can gather these in the fall with spring planting in mind.

Common soil amendments:

Adding organic materials, such as our Coco-Fiber Potting Medium and compost will improve most every soil type. Organic materials bind sandy soil particles so they retain moisture and nutrients better. They also break apart clay and silt particles, so that water can infiltrate and roots can spread.

Primocane Fruiting Plants

Most blackberries produce fruit on canes produced the previous year (floricanes). Primocane-fruiting blackberries produce fruit on the current year cane. They flower and fruit until the top of the fruiting cane gets killed by cold in the fall and then the remaining part of the cane overwinters (now called a floricane), which flowers and fruits again the following spring. Prime-Jim, Prime-Jan, Prime Ark-45, and Prime Ark Freedom are primocane fruiting varieties. Freedom is thornless.

How to Fertilize Blackberries

Blackberry bushes need regular fertilization to grow big, juicy berries. Most blackberries require just one application of fertilizer annually, given in early spring right before they begin to grow. But some blackberry plants require a second application of fertilizer. If your blackberry bush has pale green or yellow leaves or thin spindly canes, give it a second dose of fertilizer in June towards the middle of the growing season.

Test the pH of the soil around your blackberry's soil. This can be done by following the instructions on a home soil pH testing kit or by taking a sample of the soil in to your local county extension office for testing. The soil's pH will determine the type of fertilizer that you apply to your blackberry's soil.

  • Blackberry bushes need regular fertilization to grow big, juicy berries.
  • Most blackberries require just one application of fertilizer annually, given in early spring right before they begin to grow.

Fertilize your blackberries in early spring before they break dormancy. Spread a top dressing of 1/4 pound actual fertilizer evenly over the roots of each one of your blackberry bushes (keep the fertilizer a few inches away from the bush's stem or you may burn the plant). Use 1 1/5 pounds of 21-0-0 fertilizer if your soil's pH is above 7 and 1 2/3 pound of 15-5-0 fertilizer if the pH is 6.0 or less.

Apply a second application of fertilizer in June if your blackberry's growth is poor. Apply the same amount of fertilizer but this time use a 21-0-0 fertilizer regardless of your soil's pH.

Water your blackberry with 1 to 2 inches of water after each fertilizer application.

Spread a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic mulch over your blackberry's soil. It will help the soil retain water and fertilize the blackberry as it decomposes. Keep the mulch 3 to 4 inches away from the blackberry's stem and extend it roughly 1 foot beyond the reach of the blackberry's foliage.

Watch the video: Growing Blackberries In Containers - The Complete Guide To Growing Blackberry

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