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Growing Ouachita Blackberries

Ouachita blackberries are a fantastic addition to any North Central Florida garden. Known for their deliciously sweet and juicy berries, they are relatively easy to grow and maintain. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you cultivate thriving Ouachita blackberry bushes in your garden.


Ouachita blackberries are a thornless variety bred for their large, firm, and flavorful berries. They are known for their high yield and disease resistance, making them a popular choice among gardeners. These blackberries ripen in early to mid-summer and are perfect for fresh eating, baking, and preserving.

Light Requirements:

Ouachita blackberries thrive in full sunlight. Ensure they receive at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily. Planting them in a sunny location helps promote vigorous growth and maximizes berry production.

Soil Preparation and Fertilizing:

Soil: Blackberries prefer well-drained, loamy soil with a pH between 5.5 and 7.0. Before planting, amend the soil with organic matter such as compost to improve fertility and drainage.

Fertilizing: Apply a balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) in early spring as new growth begins. Follow the package instructions for application rates. Additional feedings can be done in mid-summer if necessary.


Frequency: Blackberries require consistent moisture, especially during fruiting. Water them deeply at least once a week, ensuring the soil remains moist but not waterlogged.

Mulching: Apply a layer of mulch around the base of the plants to help retain moisture and control weeds. Mulching also helps maintain a consistent soil temperature.


Primocane Pruning: In late winter or early spring, remove any dead, damaged, or diseased canes. Trim the remaining canes to about 4-6 feet in height to encourage branching.

Floricane Pruning: After the fruiting season, prune the canes that have fruited back to the ground. This encourages new growth and prepares the plant for the next season’s crop.

Staking and Training:

Support System: Use a trellis or support system to keep the canes upright and prevent them from sprawling. This improves air circulation, reduces disease risk, and makes harvesting easier.

Training: Tie the canes to the trellis as they grow, spacing them evenly. This helps manage the plant’s growth and ensures the berries receive ample sunlight.

Pest and Disease Management:

Pests: Keep an eye out for common pests such as aphids, spider mites, and Japanese beetles. Use insecticidal soap or neem oil to control infestations.

Diseases: Blackberries are susceptible to diseases like anthracnose and cane blight. Ensure proper spacing and pruning to improve air circulation and reduce humidity around the plants. Remove and destroy any infected canes immediately.


When to Harvest: Blackberries are ready to harvest when they turn a deep, glossy black and come off the plant easily. Taste a few to ensure they are sweet and fully ripe.

Harvesting Tips: Gently pick the berries to avoid crushing them. Use shallow containers to collect the berries, as stacking them can cause bruising.

Growing Ouachita blackberries in North Central Florida can be a rewarding experience with the right care and attention. By providing the appropriate light, soil conditions, water, and nutrients, and by following proper pruning and training techniques, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of delicious blackberries each year. Happy gardening!