Blackberries are easy to grow and very productive for the backyard gardener. Raspberries are more of a challenge in our alkaline soil, but may be worth the effort for the raspberry fan. To prepare a bed for either of these brambles, choose a location that gets full sun and good air circulation. Be sure to remove all weeds beforehand, because the thorny and shallow-rooted brambles make weeding more difficult later.
To fertilize these brambles, be sure to use a low-phosphorus fertilizer such as Lady Bug 8-2-4 or Garden Pep Cottonseed Meal, instead of Flower Power. High phosphorus is associated with zinc deficiency in brambles. Please consult our handout Planting and Maintenance Guide for Fruits, Nuts, & Berries for more instructions.
Space your plants about three feet apart. Be sure to plant the bare root bramble at the proper depth. The soil line should be at the point on the plant where the stem meets the root.
Blackberries and raspberries produce on last year’s growth. Expect your first harvest the second year. Every year after harvest, cut all old canes (the very ones you just stripped clean of berries) down to ground level. Allow only the vigorous new growth to remain. When these new canes reach 3 – 4 feet, thin them so that only 5-7 canes per plant remain. At the same time, prune back the tips by about 6 inches to encourage branching, on which the bramble will fruit. Harvest when fruit is fully ripe. When the blackberry is dark and the raspberry is bright red, when they are soft, and they release easily from the stem, then the fruits are ready! At peak production, you may need to harvest daily. It may be helpful to use bird netting to protect your harvest.
Blackberry Varieties for Central Texas
This variety is a medium to large sized, black fruit with a honey sweet flavor. It is a vigorous grower, very hardy, disease resistant, rarely suckers, and is a plentiful producer.
This variety is a vigorous grower and disease resistant. It forms a bushy, upright vine that is very attractive. The fruit is large, fairly firm and has a tart, acidic flavor. Good for making jams.
This variety is a moderately thornless, erect, vigorous grower. The fruit is large, firm, attractive, and contains excellent flavor. Good for eating, making jams, and freezing.
This is a recent product out of the University of Arkansas with extremely large fruit and formidable thorns. Excellent flavor.
This thornless variety is a hardy grower. Plants are erect and self-supporting. The flavor of the fruit is superior to other varieties, being less tart than other thornless varieties. Good for eating.
This variety was developed by A&M and has become very popular since it does very well in the Austin area. It is disease resistant. The fruit is large, with a Kiowa This is a recent product out of the University of Arkansas with extremely large fruit and formidable thorns. delicious juicy flavor.
Raspberry Varieties for Central Texas
This raspberry is extra large, red, sweet, and firm with an excellent flavor. It is an excellent choice for hot summers and will withstand winter temperatures down to zero degrees. It is an “everbearing” variety that produces a large crop in early summer and a small crop in the fall.
This variety is an “everbearing,” red, large, very firm excellent quality, delicious raspberry. One can expect a moderate crop in July and a heavy production in early September. It is a vigorous and hardy grower. Heritage is the most popular fall variety nationwide.