It may seem odd to talk about intentionally growing this often aggressive and painful plant. But maybe you are someone who believes that the fruit is worth the pain. There are also varieties of blackberry which grow great fruit and are thorn-free. Either way, growing your own blackberries assures that you’ll have an easy source of this fruit close to home. Just be sure you’re prepared for the work that comes with cultivating these vines!

Choosing a Site for Growing Blackberries

Blackberries produce best in full sun, but can tolerate partial shade. Blackberries can grow in just about any type of soil as long as it is well-drained. If the soil drains slowly or is too wet, adding organic matter will help reduce the chance of root rot. Blackberries would prefer to have the pH between 5.5 and 7.5. If your pH is below 5.5, add lime.

Planting Blackberries

Dig a shallow hole large enough to accommodate the roots of starts. Prune off any damaged root parts. Spread the root mass and set the plant in the ground at the same soil level as it was in the nursery pot. Cover the roots and press the soil down firmly to remove air pockets. If you have soil low in fertility, add a well balanced all purpose fertilizer to the hole. Space plants 4-10 feet apart in a row. It is wise to trellis all blackberries. A simple trellis system 6’ tall of wire supports strung between posts is preferred.

How to Care for Blackberries

Each spring, add a well balanced fertilizer to the soil. Control weeds between the plants but cultivate no deeper than 1-2 inches to prevent root damage. You may apply mulch once plants become established. Sawdust (not cedar), compost, or bark mulch can be applied in a three inch layer over the row.

Pruning Blackberries

Pruning should be done in winter or early spring. Blackberries bear fruit on canes that grew the previous season. The canes that produced fruit last year should be pruned away. The new canes can be tied to on a trellis or a fence. This will allow better air circulation and higher quality berries.

When to Harvest Blackberries

Berries should be harvested every 3 to 6 days depending on weather and cultivation. When ripe, berries come right off the vine. To extend shelf life, pick berries when they are dry and refrigerate as soon as possible. 

A lifelong Oregon resident, Drake has been passionate about plants since childhood, beginning with propagating and growing flowers at his grandfather’s nursery. He opened Drake’s 7 Dees in 1974, while earning degrees in Business and Horticulture from Oregon State University. He later expanded into the design/build side of the industry, allowing him to combine his passion for plants with his love of family by maximizing the quality of family time spent outdoors.

Drake is co-founder of the Oregon Landscape Contractors Association and is a Landscape Industry Certified Manager (LICM)—a designation that less than two percent of landscapers have attained. Additionally, Drake serves on the Board of Directors for the Portland Japanese Gardens, widely regarded as one of the seven best Japanese gardens outside of Japan.

Drake is married to former Oregon Speaker of the House, Lynn Snodgrass. Together, he and Lynn received the Farm Bureau President’s award in 1999 for their service and dedication to agriculture in the state of Oregon. Drake and Lynn have two wonderful daughters, two talented son-in-laws, and seven grandchildren. In his spare time, Drake enjoys camping, water and snow skiing, reading, and of course, gardening.

Born and raised in the Portland Metro Area… Tim has had an appreciation for the outdoors from a young age.  Inspired by our local beauty ranging: the Mt Hood National Forest to salty, sea spray of Cannon Beach, the arid high-desert of Central Oregon to the rugged terrain of Steens Mountain – Tim sought higher education at the University of Idaho in their Landscape Architecture department.  Graduating with honors in 2004, he returned home to establish his professional career.

Now making his home in Sandy, Oregon – Tim and his wife [Nicole] are raising two happy and healthy kiddos and 4 fur-babies.  Between soccer, football, cheerleading, girl scouts and other extra-curricular activities… the Sellin family are heavily involved in their community and church family.  Since college, Tim has spent 13 of his 17 years with Drake’s 7 Dees and has ‘set roots’ in anticipation of long-term growth at the family-focused company.  Having spent his time away from Drake’s in a ‘boots on the ground’ capacity, Tim has fostered a love for the operational/production side of landscape business, as well as the design/sales.

His goal in life as well as business is to put others first.

Bachelor of Science Landscape Architecture, BSLA… 2009
California Polytechnic University, Pomona… Cum Laude
American Society of Landscape Architects – Honor Award

Steven has 15 years of experience in the residential landscape design/build and garden center industry, including 9 years with Drake’s 7 Dees. Steven also has experience working with the National Park Service in Yosemite on sub-alpine restoration projects, as well as volunteer experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer serving the community of Zaouiat d’Ifrane in Morocco.

Together, Steven and his wife Anna have four lovely children, all 5 years old and under! In his (very limited) spare time, Steven enjoys camping, hiking, archery hunting, and cooking. Steven’s passion for his work lies in helping others, through design to envision a more beautiful space that, once built, becomes a reality that improves their quality of life.