Blackberries are well suited to the home fruit garden in the southern half of Illinois. Most blackberry cultivars are too susceptible to winter damage for dependable production in northern Illinois. However, the cultivar ‘Illini Hardy’ is suitable for culture in most of northern Illinois.
Blackberries are classified as thorny, thornless, erect, semi-erect, or trailing. Erect, semi-erect, and trailing type blackberries are all available, but each requires different culture. The trailing and semi-erect cultivars, that include most of the thornless blackberries, require a physical support and are not very winter hardy. Thus, the culture of most thornless blackberries in Illinois requires special care. Plant breeders are working to develop hardy thornless erect cultivars.
- Plant in a location with well-drained soil and full sun.
- Do not plant on a site where verticillium wilt was a problem.
- Destroy any wild brambles as they harbor pests and diseases that attacks blackberry.
- Plant erect blackberry types 4 ft. to 6 ft. apart in a hedgerow.
- Remove the tips of the canes in spring to stimulate growth of lateral branches.
- Prune dead, weak and overcrowded canes during the dormant season.