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Home & garden.

Updated: 29 Apr 2022

How to grow blackberries and best varieties

The blackberries you grow yourself are so much juicier and bigger than ones in the wild. Discover our best blackberry varieties and tips for how to grow them.
Ceri Thomas
Blackberries

Plant breeders have transformed blackberries from the small, acid-tasting hedgerow fruit to a much larger and sweeter berry. These often have smaller seeds that don’t get stuck in the teeth so easily and many grow on thornless bushes, making them easier to pick. They also freeze well, so there’s no need to waste money on berries from the supermarket that have often been transported halfway round the world.

 To help you choose which to grow, Which? Gardening magazine trialled 11 varieties.


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How to grow blackberries: month by month

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Best blackberry varieties

Which? members can log in now to see the full results and detailed reviews of our Best Buy varieties. If you're not a member, join Which? for instant access.

Full testing results for blackberries

Variety Overall ratingTiming of fruit Yield per plant (g) Yield rating Flavour Texture Pest/disease resistance 
Mid3,808
Mid2,202
Mid2,112
Early1,346
Early3,615
Late535
Early256

USING THE TABLE  PERFORMANCE Timing of fruit The time when most of the fruit was picked: Early, from start of July; Mid, from start of August; Late, from end of August. Overall rating ignores price and is based on: taste and texture 30%, flavour 30%, yield 25%, health 15%.

How we test blackberries

We planted 11 varieties of blackberry in a sunny position in a fruit cage at our trial garden in Capel Manor, north London. We trained them onto wires for support, harvesting the berries that ripened in the first year. We then allowed them time to establish and mature over winter. In spring, we tidied the plants and fed them with Vitax Q4. We harvested the fruit as it ripened in summer, weighing the fruit to work out the weight of berries per plant. We also tasted them, rating their texture and flavour, using a Brix machine to measure sugar content. We noticed that the taste varied between berries, even on an individual bush.

Caring for your plants

Planting

Buy blackberries in autumn or spring, as bare-root plants or in containers. Space them out at the recommended planting distance so that they have enough room. Blackberries cope with partial shade, but the fruits are sweeter when grown in the sun. Enrich heavy soils with compost before planting.

Feeding

Feed plants in spring with Vitax Q4 or Growmore, and mulch with organic matter, such as garden compost or well-rotted manure.

Pruning and training

Blackberries are vigorous and need supporting. Grow on a wall or fence, tying in along strong wires. 

After planting, cut stems back to a bud 20cm from the base of the plant, so that plants produce new shoots in spring. 

Fruit is only produced on two-year-old canes. To help make pruning and picking easier, tie in all the new canes in one direction. These will crop next year. The following year, tie in canes produced that year in the opposite direction; these will crop the year after. Training like this will help make it quick and easy to separate and identify one- and two-year-old canes. 

In autumn, prune the canes that have fruited at their base. Tidy the plant in early spring to remove any dead, diseased or dying growth after winter.

How and when to harvest

August-September

Berries are best picked ripe and then either eaten fresh, or used in jams, jellies or even wine for a taste of summer all year round. If you want to freeze them, do so as soon as possible after picking.

Common growing problems

Blackberry cane spot

Blackberry cane spot is a fungal disease. Symptoms are grey spots on affected canes, which can spread to the foliage. Keep a close eye on plants and prune out any infected shoots as soon as you see them.

Read more about blackberry cane spot

Birds

Birds love blackberries as much as us, so make sure you protect your plants by covering them with netting or fleece, or even grow them in a fruit cage.

Read more about how to protect from birds