Blackerries in the wild. Deena Chadi,
University of New Haven.

Several blackberry species are native to Florida, and are often picked wild, but they're usually small and flavor varies. Cultured varieties are available that have larger, sweeter fruit.

Varieties that do well in North and Northcentral Florida include Apache, Arapaho, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Ouachita, and Kiowa. South Florida gardeners can try Southern and Rosborough varieties.

Blackberry bushes may be erect or trailing. Although most blackberries produce shoots with thorns, many cultivars are thornless.

Plant your blackberry plants from December through February. Blackberries like full sun and well-drained, rich soil. Plant your blackberries close to a water source, as they will most likely need extra irrigation. Consider installing drip irrigation, which will minimize weeds, as will mulch. Blackberries don't need much fertilizer; in fact, excess fertilizer can burn leaves or even kill plants.

In Florida, blackberries typically ripen during May and June. They turn from red to black before they are fully ripe. Blackberries are extremely perishable and must be handled with care. You should refrigerate picked berries as soon as possible.

Raspberries, which are related to blackberries, are not generally recommended for the southeastern home garden.

Learn more in the EDIS publication "HS104 The Blackberry."