Blackberries are a wonderful plant to include in your garden! They produce large harvests of delicious berries and are very easy to care for. But after many years, productivity can start to decline and you may want to start over with a new plant. Luckily it is very easy to propagate blackberries and you will soon have plenty of healthy starts to plant in your garden or to give away to friends!
When to Propagate Blackberries
Late summer to early fall is generally the best time to propagate blackberries. By this time your plants are done producing berries for the year and new stems (primocanes) are actively growing. Also, your new plants will be able to become established before cold winter weather arrives.
How to Propagate Blackberries
While there are a few different ways to propagate blackberries, I think the absolute easiest way to start new blackberry plants is through a process called tip layering. Tip layering is where the end of a healthy vine is covered with soil so it forms roots. We will now go through this process step-by-step:
Step 1: Select a Healthy Primocane
A primocane is a blackberry stem that is in its first year of growth. Choose a healthy primocane that is at about the diameter of a pencil to ensure vigorous, healthy plants. If you have your vines on wires or a trellis, make sure the primocane is long enough to reach the ground.
Step 2: Plant the Tip of the Primocane
Next choose where you want to plant your blackberry start. If you want to plant it in a new location (or start one for a friend) the easiest way is to start the blackberry in a large pot filled with planting soil or potting mix. I usually use a 1-gallon pot so the roots have plenty of room to get established.
Dig a small hole in the soil and plant the tip of the primocane about 2-3 inches deep. Carefully remove any large leaves on the side of the stem that would be under the soil line but make sure to leave the tip of the stem intact. Gently firm the soil around the stem.
If the blackberry vines are long enough to reach, you can also start them directly in the soil where you want your new plants to grow. That is what I did in the picture below:
Step 3: Water Lightly and Keep the Soil Moist
Water the pot lightly and keep the soil from drying out. Set the pot where it will not be disturbed.
Step 4: Cut the Stem from the Parent Plant
After about a month you can test to see if your blackberry plant has grown roots. You can do this by very gently tugging at the stem. If it feels firm and stays in place, the blackberry has started to grow roots and is ready to separate from the parent plant.
Cut the stem about 1-2 feet above the soil with using sharp pruners. Your new blackberry start is now ready to plant!
When to Plant Your Blackberry Starts
You can choose to plant your blackberry start immediately or wait until the spring. One advantage of fall plantings is that the blackberries can get a good root system established over the winter. Blackberries may also be more susceptible to cold weather if they are in a pot rather than in the ground.
The first year after planting your new blackberry plant will not produce any berries. But new primocanes will start growing and it will come into full production in the following year or two. You will soon be enjoying large harvests of sweet juicy blackberries!
Hope you get to enjoy blackberries in your garden year after year. Happy Gardening!
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