Q.Concern About My Blackberry Shrub, Frozen 2x In May, Struggling To Grow, How Can I Help
I’ve had my Traveler blackberry shrub for perhaps 3 years, made some mistakes with it so that I have not had a real harvest yet. Last summer it did grow to over 6’ high and looked like a small tree, even though it had almost no berries. What berries I’ve had so far were mostly eaten by Japanese beetles before I could get them. (I am thinking of trying baby powder to deter them this year!) I pruned the shrub to the ground last fall, hoping that was the correct move. This spring it was very slow to emerge. We have had quite a cold spring. In fact, this month, in my area, 3 long-standing records for cold were broken. We had 2 recent freezes with temps in the mid 20s. My blackberry didn’t fare well, the new growth that was maybe a foot high shrivelled. Now the weather has turned dry with frequent winds. This happens often in May, but I was hoping we could at least get adequate rainfall. Would it help my struggling berry shrub if I irrigate it? Maybe fertilize it? What about mulch, should I leave that on, or pull it off? I am getting impatient to have a real berry crop. Many years ago we had shrubs that produced tons of berries, more than we could use. Now, with this new bush, I’ve barely gotten a small handful. Is there hope? —— Thanks
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
It is very possible that you have a blackberry better suited for warm climates. Some can only survive zones 6-9. This will mean that you are at the edge of their habitat.
With these varieties it may be necessary to mulch a little extra in winter, and uncover in spring. This will grant you, at the very least, more vigorous growth. This can give you the upper hand when your new growth freezes frequently in the spring.
Outside of this, proper care will be the best way to ensure its survival, and your eventual fruit.
Here is an article that will help you with the care of blackberries: