The best ways to propagate blackberries

Like many plants, blackberries can be propagated and used to grow new sprouts. These sprouts can be used to increase your collection or given to blackberry-loving friends and family who want to grow their own, too! When to propagate will depend on the technique you choose to use, so make sure you follow the methods of propagating blackberries as closely as possible for the best chance at success.

Ripe blackberries on the bush
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How to grow blackberry plants

Knowing how to grow and care for blackberry plants can mean the difference between your cuttings surviving or failing to grow. So, before we get into different types of propagation, let’s talk about blackberry care. Blackberries should be grown in an area that receives full sunlight and has room to grow. Although they can survive in some shade, too, much of it will negatively affect the amount of fruit they produce.

You’ll want to make sure the soil you plant them in has good drainage and isn’t in an area where you’ve previously grown other crops like strawberries, tomatoes, or peppers in the past three years. Each of these plants is prone to similar diseases, so planting your blackberries in a new location will limit any negative impacts to your plant.

During the first three weeks after planting, you’ll want to water your blackberry plants frequently. Watering should be done during the day, and you’ll want to make sure the top inch of the soil is moist. After the initial three-week watering period, your blackberries should be watered with one to two inches of water once a week during the daytime (and four inches of water during harvest season). Remember that blackberries have a fairly shallow root system, so it’s best not to let more than the top six inches of soil dry out.

Propagating from cuttings

One of the most common ways of propagation works for blackberries, too. Propagating blackberries from cuttings is fairly straightforward and can be done with either stem or root cuttings, depending on your long-term goal. Root cuttings are the ones most commonly used for propagating blackberries and should be done during the plant’s dormancy in the fall. The cuttings you take should be about 3 to 6 inches long, with straight cuts made close to the crown of the plant and an angled cut farther away.

Once you have your root cuttings, they’ll need to be placed in cold storage for roughly three weeks. A refrigerator will do just fine. You should bundle the root cuttings together, with straight cuts on the same side, before storing them. After the storage period, lay the cuttings out, two to three inches apart, on a peat and sand mix and covered lightly with soil. Use clear plastic to protect them, and once your new sprouts appear and take root, you can plant them in your garden.

If you’re looking to propagate many blackberries at once, stem cuttings are the best option for you. It’s best to take leafy stem cuttings (about 4 to 6 inches) when the plant is still firm. Similar to the root cuttings, the stem cuttings should be placed on a peat and sand mix; however, instead of covering them, you’ll stick the bottom end a couple inches into the soil. Place them in a shady location, being sure to mist regularly, and you should have developing roots in a few weeks.

Blackberry sprout planted in the ground
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Propagating through suckers

Propagating blackberries from suckers is one of the best ways to root the plant. Suckers are baby plants (in this case, baby blackberry plants) that grow horizontally from the roots of the parent. These are often the best way to propagate a new plant because they’re already on their way to being one!

When removing suckers, be sure to do so as close to the ground as possible, and be careful. It’s still a baby plant and you wouldn’t want to damage it or do anything to cause it to not be viable. It can be difficult to do with how close the sucker is to the base of the plant, so start by using a clean hand shovel to dig around it. If the sucker plant doesn’t have its own root system yet, it isn’t grown enough to be removed. But if it does have its own root system, you should be able to safely separate it from the parent plant and replant it elsewhere in your garden.

The biggest thing with suckers is having to wait until they’re ready to be removed. Luckily, this means they’ll have an easier time establishing themselves and you won’t run as much of a risk of the plants not surviving as you would with cuttings.

Propagating by tip layering

The other successful method for propagating blackberries is called tip layering. This works by pinning the tip of a stem into the ground, covering it with some soil, and caring for it until there’s enough of a new root system to cut the new plant away from the parent. People usually do tip layering in the late summer/early fall. The tips should be left pinned in and covered throughout the winter, and by spring you should have a good enough root system to separate the new plant from the parent. Be sure to check before you separate, though, in case it needs more time to become an established plant! You don’t want to separate it too early and negatively affect its growth.

With luck and proper care, you’ll have no trouble propagating and growing new blackberry plants.

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