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April 7, 2021 - Why you should not plant blackberries in the ground

Updated: Apr 22, 2021

So...after watching a fun movie the other night, Where'd You Go, Bernadette?, we came to a sudden realization about the thornless blackberries that we had planted in our yard. If you haven't seen this movie, it came out in 2019 and features Cate Blanchett, a famous architect that moved to Seattle. *Spoiler Alert* The scene that caught our attention was when she took ou a hillside of blackberry vines at the request of her neighbor. The blackberries had invaded the hillside to such an extreme degree that it took heavy machinery to cut and dig them out, and they had become so entrenched prior to removal that the entire hill washed away in the next heavy rain when they were pulled out.


Needless to say, our blackberries have been removed and are now happily living in some pots. However, there are a few things to be wary about and a few reasons why you need to be careful with berry vines such as blackberries, raspberries, boysenberries, etc.

Blackberry vine with flower bud and bamboo stake

How they are invasive


Vines

Vines are well known to be a pain if left unchecked and can quickly spread. This is done by a couple of different methods. One is that vines spread on the ground and can create roots at each node. This is how many wisteria plants can spread. The other is that the root system grows horizontally, which is the case for blackberries. Rhizome-type plants grow like this and can spread rapidly in all directions, especially if you have softer soil. Our clay soil in Georgia slows the process down a bit, but it's still inevitable. The other problem with rhizomes is that they grow underground, so if you see them pop out, that's only one little point that you've found and chances are that it's spread way more underground than you can't see. It's also pretty hard to dig out once it's started to spread.


Seeds

Birds love berries. They love love love berries! But who doesn't right? They're sweet and tart and sugary. The issue is that blackberries have many tiny seeds, so birds can gobble up a few berries, and then when it's pooping time, they can quickly spread many seeds all over the place.


How to get rid of them once they spread


Dig them out

We try to use as few chemicals as possible in our yard. The only types we ever use are fertilizer, at least until our comfrey is ready and we can make compost tea, and fire ant bait, because we have a lot of fire ants in our yard. If you go the organic route by not using herbicides, then you'll have to go the old-fashioned way and dig them out. Using high-quality tools can make a huge difference. We use DeWit brand tools (we are not endorsed, we just bought these at our local garden center and really like them). Any high-quality tool that won't bend or break will make the digging that much better.


Herbicide

So this is definitely a way to get rid of plants, but we never really recommend this method since we try to use as few chemicals as possible. We also have a lot of wildlife roaming around, such as our birds, chipmunks, squirrels, Polly (the opossum, and everyone else that visits us.

Blackberry vine with flower bud

Where the blackberries are now


So now our blackberries are living in pots on our deck. We put in some rich potting soil along with some stakes to help support them since they are vines. The area of our deck gets far more than six hours of sun, so they should be able to soak up tons of sunlight to help them grow. We'll fertilize them in a couple of weeks once they get settled into their pots. We also had some good rain come through so they are good to go.


Weather report: Highs in the 70's, sunny, and breezy. It's perfect springtime weather.

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