Preparing Blackberries for Winter

Do you have a hankering for fresh, homegrown blackberries but aren’t sure if you can grow them in your climate? If you live in USDA zones 5 to 10, the answer is yes.

If you live in the northern reaches of zone 5 you can still grow blackberries, but, you may have to give them a little extra attention at the end of the growing season. Most blackberries produce fruit on canes from the previous season so the name of the game is to keep those canes from dying back in winter.

Frost tender varieties will survive temperatures that get down to 0 to 10 degrees F and the hardy types tolerate about -10 degrees F. If your garden is likely to see colder temperatures, take a few steps at the end of the growing season to protect the canes.

Protecting blackberries in winter is pretty simple. If you are growing a trailing type, remove the canes from their supports and place the canes on the ground. Cover with a heavy layer of mulch. In the early spring, before new growth emerges, lift the canes and reattach them to the trellis. Upright blackberries are more cold tolerant than the trailing types, but you should protect the canes for cold winds with a wind break.

Good to Know: Cold Hardy Blackberry Varieties

You can skip the winter protection if you select blackberries that fruit on the current season’s canes or primocanes as well as the second year canes (floricanes). Look for Prime-Ark™ (developed in my home state of Arkansas), Prime-Jan® and Prime-Jim®. These varieties will grow as far north as zone 4.