Blackberry Plants
Q.

Should I prune down my traveler blackberry now, or in spring?

Zone zone 6 | Krystal Kissell added on October 11, 2019 | Answered

Hello, It has been a difficult year for my 2 year old traveler blackberry shrub (2018 wasn’t much better!) Far too much rain and cold this spring and early summer, then blazing heat and drought. I suppose the worst thing was that I didn’t know that the large older portion of the plant, which did bear a few berries last year but little or nothing this year, should have been cut to the ground this spring. One of you advised me to do that. So, I did. Now, it looks like a small tree, about 6’ tall. The erect part that was newer and not bearing has indeed borne a few berries...”enough for a snack” as my late mother would have said. This seems unusual for blackberries to bear into the autumn...even if it was only a few. Someone suggested the shrub might be diseased, but aside from various insects chewing on the leaves, I see no obvious signs of disease. It would in fact be preferable to get a harvest of berries late, as the Japanese beetles are usually gone by August. I will show a couple of images here of the shrub. The scant berries and blossoms are in the photos. Does it look healthy to you? Should I apply fertilizer? And since my area will soon get frost, should I cut the “tree” to the ground now, or wait till spring?...And yes, I will be placing mulch under it. —Thank You

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BushDoctor
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Answered on October 11, 2019

Good. If it is bearing fruit then that means you can rule out disease. This tells me that incorrect or no pruning was to blame. (I do remember this case)

Now that you have seen some berries- Once that part is donefruiting, you will remove it leaving enough for new to form. You could cut it completely away if it is getting too clustered at this time, as well.

Spring will be time for tip cutting to increase branching. This article will offer more information:

https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/fruits/blackberries/blackberry-pruning.htm

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