How To Transplant Blackberry Bushes

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I was so excited the other day when the kids and I were walking to my dad’s house and we came upon a huge patch of wild blackberries in full bloom along the dam beside his lake.

We’d looked all through the woods the other day, trying to find blackberries, without any luck. Looks like we’re gonna have plenty of berries to pick this summer after all!

I plan on transplanting a bunch of these bushes to my front yard. They are so beautiful when in full bloom, and having the berries a few steps from my front door will be a nice treat.

I think I’ll wait until after we’ve harvested the berries from this patch before I move them, so as not to lose any fruit. I’ve been reading up on the best time and way to transplant blackberry bushes. Here’s what I’ve learned…

Transplanting Blackberry Plants vs. Starting from Seed

Dark, sweet, and delicious, the blackberry is the perfect mid- to late-summer treat. A blackberry bush is super easy to grow at home, too, hardy from zones three through nine.

As long as you carefully prepare a new spot and handle your transplants appropriately, you shouldn’t have any trouble getting started.

Most people choose to transplant blackberry plants versus starting them from seed. This is a matter of personal preference. It is usually easier to propagate blackberry bushes from propagation or division.

This way, you will know exactly what you are getting and you don’t have to mess around with the hassle of growing plants from seeds. It shortens your time to fruiting dramatically.

However, if you want to grow blackberry plants from seed, it can definitely be done. It will need to start about six months before you transplant an adult plant – so if you plan to transplant in September or October, you would need to start during the winter months.

Best Blackberry Plants for Transplanting

You can grow just about any type of blackberry plant from a transplant. Essentially, there are three main “categories” from which you can choose: erect thorny, erect thornless, and trailing thornless.

The differences between the three are pretty clearcut. Erect blackberries are bushes that are more or less self-supporting, while trailing blackberries have long canes that need to be trellis. Then you have a choice between plants with or without thorns.

All of these types are perennials, with the roots surviving year to year. However, the tops of the plants are biennials, growing vegetatively for one year, bearing fruit he next year and then dying.

Each year, though, the plant will shoot up new canes to replace the ones that died. In order to avoid a messy appearance and to ensure good fruit production, you need to prune back the plant regularly.

All blackberry plants are self-fertile. You do not need multiple plants in order to produce fruit.

There are countless varieties of blackberry bushes for you to consider. However, some of the most popular options include Navaho and Arapaho (both erect thornless cultivars) and Cherokee, Shawnee, Brazos, and Cheyenne (all erect thorny). If a semi-erect thornless is what you have in mind, then Black Satin is a good choice. For a trailing variety, you might want to consider Olallie.

No matter what, make sure the cultivar that you select is appropriate for your growing zone and preferences.

When to Transplant Blackberry Bushes

The best time to transplant blackberry (or raspberry) bushes is in Fall, after all of the berries have been picked. You should wait until the canes, or the branches that comprise the blackberry bush, have finished fruiting and have undergone some specific changes.

Keep in mind that only two-year-old canes are the only ones that produce fruit and at the end of the season, all of them will eventually die. One year old canes will stop growing at the end of fall but will begin growing after a dormant period that lasts through to the following spring.

This is why it’s best to plant blackberry bushes in the late fall or early winter. Depending on where you live, you may also be able to plant them in the early spring. Just wait until they are totally dormant but haven’t quite started growing yet.

Preparing for Transplanting

You should start by selecting the ideal site for your blackberry plants. In many areas, blackberries grow like weeds – they are almost invasive at times! Nevertheless, you should select a location where the soil is well-draining and rich in organic matter.

Avoid planting your blackberry bushes in an area that is mostly clay soil. This will hold too much water and can cause the roots of your plant to rot. Instead, add plenty of organic matter to the soil, which will add good structure and drainage to the soil. It will also help to feed the berries.

You will want to make sure the site gets plenty of sun, too – at least six to eight hours each day during the growing season. If you plant your blackberry bushes in a shady site with little sunlight, you will find that your plants grow okay – but that they don’t put on too many berries.

Prune the vines down to about 5″ tall before uprooting them. This will make them easier for you to transplant, but will also cause less stress to the plant. If you leave the long canes, and don’t trim anything back, these older branches will begin trying to bloom and create fruit again in Spring.

All of the plant’s energy will go toward growing the berries, and won’t be focused on the newly transplanted root system. If the plant isn’t able to establish strong, healthy roots, it could die as a result of focusing all nutrients on the longer fruit bearing canes.

If you are transplanting multiple bushes, keep in mind that your plants will need to be spaced between five and eight feet apart. Some erect cultivars can get by with just three feet between them, but it’s better to err on the side of caution and allow for more space. There aren’t many benefits associated with planting blackberry bushes densely.

How to Transplant Blackberry Bushes

Begin digging about a foot from the plant all the way around, so as not to disrupt the root system too much. Dig about a foot deep as well. You don’t want to pull the plants up, or yank on the roots, but gently lift them out of the ground.

Once the plant is up, wrap the roots with a plastic bag to keep them safe until you’ve given them their new home. Try to get them in the ground again ASAP.

When digging a new hole for your transplant, make sure to make it twice the size of the root ball. This will give the roots lots of room to be able to spread out and take hold. You don’t ever want to cram them into a hole. Trim the roots a little if you need to.

Before putting your blackberry (or raspberry) bush into its new hole, add a little bit of barn litter or compost to the bottom of the hole. Berry bushes love acid soil, and manure or compost really help! Our soil here is mostly clay, and they do fine. Blackberries usually do well in most soil types.

Also before planting, you will want to carefully inspect your blackberry plant. Look out for any roots that appear to be dead or have any damage. You can prune these back or trim them off entirely. This will help the berry canes overall and will not hurt them as long as you don’t trim too much. Simply remove any stragglers that poke out from the plant at odd angles or seem to be growing in an unnatural way.

Soak the roots in a bucket of water for about an hour before planting. Don’t leave the roots in water too much longer than that though. Make sure not to over-water once it’s in the ground.

Place the plant in the hole, and fill it in with soil. Tamp it down lightly; then water. Make sure no air pockets are left remaining around the roots and be sure to prune the canes so that they are no more than four inches tall.

Caring for Your Blackberry Plants After Transplanting

New growth will appear about 4-6 weeks after the plant has been trimmed and replanted. There is not much you need to do in order to care for your blackberry plants after you have planted – usually they are pretty self-sufficient as long as they are planted in fertile soil.

However, your plants will get a healthy boost if you feed them with organic matter like compost. You can also use a commercial fertilizer that is formulated specifically for this purposes.

Watering your plants regularly can also help boost its health and improve its fruit production. Don’t water your blackberry plants so much so that they are sitting in water, but instead water until the soil is evenly moist. Generally, blackberry plants need about an inch of water each week – sometimes more in super hot weather.

You can also support your plants by using a trellis or a fence. The support needs to be super strong so that you don’t have to worry about the weight of the plants tipping over the support.

You can make more of your new transplant by “tipping” it. This term describes a process in which you use a long cane off of one plant to create a new plant beside it.

To do this you would leave one of the canes long when pruning. Then once it’s transplanted, bend the long cane so that it touches the soil wherever you want the next plant to grow, and cover it with a couple of inches of soil.

It is helpful if you leave the end tip sticking up out of the dirt so that you can see where the new plant is growing. The tip will begin growing its own new roots, and will be the start of a new blackberry bush.

Trellising and Pruning Blackberries

You can trellis blackberries, or espalier them. I’m not sure how I’m going to train mine yet once they are in my yard. I just need to make them easily accessible for harvesting time.

You have a few options for how you support them. A two-wire system works well, particularly when you are able to run a top wire at six feet with a second line about eighteen inches beneath that. This will give you all the support you need.

You also need to regularly prune your blackberries. Trailing blackberries should be pruned to the ground, but you might want to wait to prune until the canes have died back considerably. This will give the dying canes time to transfer nutrients back into the roots.

For erect blackberries, you can prune in the summer. You will remove about two inches of new primocanes when they are four feet tall. You can also remove dead fruiting canes during the winter months. Semi-erect blackberries should be pruned in the summer, too.

Harvesting Blackberries

Without a doubt, harvest time is the most exciting time when it comes to growing blackberries! You will know that your plants are ready for harvest when the fruits are completely black.

They will be plump yet firm. It’s important that you don’t harvest your berries too soon – they won’t ripen anymore after they are removed from the plant.

You may find that all the berries on your plant do not ripen at once. This is okay – just keep coming back to harvest until the ripening has finished.

Harvest at the coolest times of the day, and then place berries in the shade as quickly as possible. You can then store your blackberries by freezing, preserving, or canning them.

Can’t wait till these bushes are full of yummy berries!!

updated 01/01/2020 by Rebekah White


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Kendra
About Kendra 1103 Articles
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.

27 Comments

  1. Thanks for all the information my husband got a field to work it is covered in brambles.now I know how to transplant and start growing in our yard. We love wild berries

  2. I have sumac trees smothering the berry bushes ,was when I moved here and have never been tended to .How can I be sure that I don’t get their root along with the berries roots to transplant ? Thanks

    • You will not want to do this in June or any of the peak summer months. Wait until this fall if possible. Using shovel or trowel make a 360 degree straight down incision about 4-5 inches deep about 4 inches away from the stem. Then scoop stem and soil ball out and place in bucket of water 15-20 minutes. The soil will turn to mud and most will fall off. Begin to very gently separate what is left of blackberry stem and roots until all soil and other roots are gone. Now you just have the blackberry plant. Plant in an appropriate size container with compost. Keep soil wet and plant out of direct sunlight for at least a week. Initially it will wilt, but as it begins to push new roots it will recover. Transplant in desired location 8 weeks after removal.

  3. Just planted a small cutting around 5 months ago from a bush my dad planted at my mums place many years ago and yesterday I say my first tiny fruit . so excitedly .

  4. I found that the easiest way to transplant wild berries is to place pots of soil near the existing plant. Bend the end of the plant over into the pot and bury in pot about an inch deep. When you see a new sprout in your pot let it get about an inch tall then clip it. Wala you have started them in pots now when fall comes you will be all ready to transplant and have done no prickly digging through the briars.

    • Rachel, this is a great idea!

      1. When is the best time to do this?

      2. I am in MA. Can I do this now, March, and when would they be ready to move? If there isn’t enough time, I guess I will have dig up some of them.

      3. What size pots do you suggest, and how many plants per pot?

      4. How many pots would create a ? X ? patch?

      5. Doing it this way, how long before getting berries? If you transplant by digging plants do you get berries faster? Maybe do both?

      Thank you so much for your help.

      Brian

      • Don’t over think it. I’m up in Vermont and have transplanted these all times of the growing season. They’re built for dealing with high stress environments so the chance of them not making it is slim. I’m transplanting this week (while it’s about 65o). I’ll cut them way back just above a couple of the lower buds and soak for about an hour as she says. I’ve got super sandy soils so I’ll put them in the ground, water and then mulch with a bunch of old leaves I collected from neighbors in the fall. They might not all make it, but most will.

  5. Hi! We are moving soon. Where we are going, the land is literally sand and gravel. So, we are going to build raised square foot gardens.

    I will terribly miss my wild blackberries I have so much of here. Is it possible to transplant them, lets say February-March? Will they still produce in late summer? I’m in Mississippi by the way. 🙂

    • Hi Kimmy,

      I would totally try to transplant them. You might as well! Spring is a great time to transplant. If it were me, I’d probably cut them down quite a bit maybe to 12-18 in. tall (?) so that they don’t produce the first year, but instead their energy will go toward establishing a good root system.

  6. I just asked my dad this very same question. I want to transplant some wild dewberries into a bed, since they are very scattered around my property.

    He says that it’s doable, but that you have to be very careful because dewberry and blackberry bushes and vines attract rattlesnakes. The snakes are after the birds that like to eat the berries too.

    My dad is 73 yrs young and a farmer all his life, so he’s pretty savvy about this type of thing. Just a FYI.

  7. So it has been 3 years since this post, did you have success with your transplants? What else did you learn through the process?

    • David,

      Since writing this post I’ve found TONS of blackberries growing all around our yard. So I didn’t have to transplant any after all. I have transplanted raspberries, though, and they’re pretty much exactly the same thing. I have found that you really do need to keep them watered until the initial shock of the transplant wears off. Other than that there’s not much to it.

  8. We live here in the Ozarks on 62 acres of woods. We cleared 1 acre for our garden. In that area there was a patch of wild blackberries and about 100′ away was a patch of wild black raspberries. Some of the blackberries had curled up leaves. I read that these two berries can not be grown close to each other. Upon inspection, sure enough there was some black raspberries in amongst the blackberries. I dug the raspberries out and moved them to the raspberry patch. The deformity in blackberries cleared up. We trellised both patches and do them just like tame berries. Each patch is approximately 20′ x 20′. Black berries yield around 30 gallons and raspberries around 20 gallons each year. Last year we started working with a 50’x50′ patch of gooseberries. This year we went from 50 to 75 gallons of gooseberries. Our goal is for 100 gallons next year. Three years ago we set out 100 strawberry plants. By controlling the runners, we now have approximately 1,000 plants and no they are not in out garden any longer. We cleared a plot for them. On the average, 3 strawberries laying side by side covers my hand. SWEET,JUICYand RED throughout!!!
    By the way, we live on ” Berry Road “.

  9. Hi! Loving your website! We recently purchased a house with a small back yard that has blackberrie’s planted in a hideous make-shift planter of boards pieced together…we enjoyed the handfulls of berrie’s this summer as we cleaned and fixed up the landscaping but, we need to replant them and obviously preserve them and encourage their growth over the years…and your article is exactly what I was looking for, thank you!!

  10. Thanks for this article! Just saw some blackberry bushes in a wooded area where I walk and definitely want some to bring back home. Really excited for fall to get here so I can get them! Thanks for all the tips 🙂

  11. Your article was very helpful, my brother has wild blackberrys at his house in western NY.they grow throughout his wooded property, i was hoping there was a way to ” gather up the goodies” we will try to move some this fall.

  12. I grew up eating wild blackberries, raspberries, dew berries, huckleberries, paw-paws, persimmons, etc. When the little bramble cropped up near an old concrete slab and scratched my wife’s ankle, she ordered me to remove it pronto. But she was ecstatic when I told her it was wild blackberry. Three years later it is HUGE. But has never bloomed, never flowered, never produced a single berry. But I’m guessing it started from a seed in a bird’s dropping and simply hasn’t matured enough. So be aware – wild berries are fickle. They don’t always produce every year. It’s actually been lame for several years here in the Ozarks. And once they do produced be prepared to share with the wild. Birds and insects love them. And also (where I live) the summer months are very hot and often very dry – so give them water if you want better berries. Otherwise they can dry up quickly. They will start off with a white bloom, the fruit will then be green turning to red then to black. Berries that aren’t black are very tart (inedible in my opinion, though surely not poisonous). Oh, and raspberries can be red, just not blackberries. Duh?

  13. Hi,
    I ordered one large fruite type blackberry bush from a catalog company last year. This year the blackberries were scrumptios and provided me with fruit daily for the entire month of August.
    The reason I decided to plant one was to try them as I have tried blueberries of the large fruit type too. Tried one plant that was so successful that I ordered another which is just as prolific. gives me blueberries for the months of July and August. the third bush was planted new to the other two and remains a tiny little twig size plant yieldign nothing.
    I thought mistakenly that the blackberry bush would be appx the size of teh blueberry bushes and they are on one side of one veggie garden. So I planted teh blackberry bush in a second veggie garden.. a mistake. LOL Its hue. I have a very tall friend come over and wind it round a straight up trellave every week and it is growing larger and taller ea day. I was looking for info whether we could have it replanted or not. Its so large I dont want to obscure teh sun fomr my garden plants so if you plant or more heed the warning of others and choose a location carefully. this monster is so large to replant it would be more than I can handle. Then I read here to prune it first and now I am looking forward not only to replanting it but to start a second plant and see how that goes. I just ordered some lawn furniture so site is going to be hard to pick pardon the pun. G IUlve got a huge lawn on teh other side of my house and may just trun part of it into a berry area, blueberries blackberries and maybe raspberries for us adn for the farmers market. Strwberries have never taken hold for me not even in teh special pot I purchased which said tall friend borke last year. LOL
    Thanks so ,much for the tip. I am in New England near Boston failry cleo sto the ocean, and apples, peaches even roses no longer fare well for me as teh hunmidity is too high. Thus I welcome these scrumptious berry bushes with relish, again pardon the pun. Cher

  14. Be careful where you plant these wild blackberry bushes! Believe me, they will take over if you let them. You might not want them too close to your front door. We have cut down so many blackberry bushes from our property and if you don’t keep working on it…………they just come back! And they hurt!

  15. we ordered raspberry plants from Berlin seeds in Ohio this year. First time we have tried this. Also some strawberry plants. They sell a big blackberry called a dewberry. Very large berry. Bought some berries from someone once and they were great. research your seed/plant company on the internet, not all are good.
    I also have a screen for my squeezo for blackberries (to remove their seeds.) seedless Homemade jam from blackberries is absolutely the best thing ever! The jam with the seeds is really not very good.

  16. Thanks so much for this post…I was telling my husband the other day that I wanted to transplant some wild blackberry bushes… I love wild ones the best…This is so helpful for me and yes I have a bunch in my wood so I can now move them closer…Thanks for the pic of the one in bloom…Very educational 🙂 Love ya, Holly

  17. When tip layering a plant, it may help to wound the stem at the bend. You don’t want to break it, but scrape off an outer layer of “skin”.

  18. Yum that sounds so good. I only have a few backberry bushes in my yard I would love to have more. Only enough for a handful. I know down the tracks from us there are more bushes so maybe I will dig them up this fall. What a great idea now I know how to do it.
    Thanks

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