We have newly planted blackberry vines. We were told not to let them bear fruit this year and now we want to know if we should cut them back to just above the ground for next year’s harvest or leave them alone.
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Priscilla: Blackberries are a delicious treat to add to the garden. If given the right conditions to grow in and are properly cared for, they will provide you with many years of fruit. There are three different kinds of blackberries but here in Kentucky we typically only grow two: semi-erect and semi-trailing. The trailing varieties are not usually hardy for us. As for pruning, they should be left alone for now. Future prunings depend on what kind of blackberry you are growing. Semi-erect cultivars should be pruned for the first time during the winter dormant period. They should be cut back where the canes start bending over. They can also be pinched back during the summer months if at any time the canes have put on more than one foot of new growth. If you are growing semi-trailing blackberries, the first time you will need to prune them would be early next spring. At this time you will want to study each plant and pick out two or three of the most vigorous canes and remove the rest at ground level. For more detailed information on growing/pruning blackberries in Kentucky, visit www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/ho/ho15/ho15.pdf. This publication is provided by the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service in collaboration with land grant universities.