Columbia Giant BlackberryRubus hybrid ‘Columbia Giant’ (PP# 28,369)
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Rubus hybrid ‘Columbia Giant’ (PP# 28,369)
Outdoor Growing zone
The Columbia Giant Blackberry is the biggest blackberry anyone has ever seen, with fruits that are two inches long, needing two bites to eat. Yet they are top-quality, with an excellent texture and aromatic flavor, and a perfect balance of sweet and tart. Adults and children will love them, and they are delicious fresh, in berry mixtures, muffins, pies and preserves. This trailing plant is easily grown on a fence, trellis, or just on two wires stretched between poles.
Full sun and rich but well-drained soil suits the Columbia Giant Blackberry. Water regularly in the weeks leading up to harvest, but after that mature plants have good drought resistance. Generally free of serious pests or diseases, blackberries are among the easiest berry fruits to grow, and this one is no exception. Created by the USDA and Oregon State University.
Blackberries have come a long way since the days of collecting them wild in the woods, coming out covered in scratches with a batch of small, tart fruits. Today blackberries are mostly thornless, and the fruits are abundant, large and sweet. Growing them on a fence is easy, and enjoying them as a summer fruit is easy too. Imagine blackberries so large you can eat them like a fruit, in several mouthfuls. Impossible? Well, no. That is what the amazing Columbia Giant Blackberry gives you. The huge, barrel-shaped fruits are a full 2 inches long, and two berries weigh an ounce – that’s just 30 berries in a full pound of fruit – wow! Don’t for a moment think this is just some tasteless novelty either. No, the fruits are deliciously sweet and aromatic, yet with just enough tartness to make them enjoyable by both children and adults. Because it lacks thorns, you can grow this trailing vine on a fence or trellis right in your garden, with no danger of torn hands – and even the kids can pick them safely. The white flowers are attractive too, and the glossy green leaves mean this plant can hold its head up in your ornamental garden or in a fruit garden. It is easy to grow with minimal care, and an established plant, if well-grown, can yield 15 pounds – that’s from a single plant. You do need insect activity to pollinate your fruit, but you don’t need a second variety as you do with many other fruits, so one is all you need for a giant harvest. Let’s get growing!
The Columbia Giant Blackberry is a deciduous shrub producing long stems that if left naturally could reach as much as 20 feet, but more typically grow to about 6 feet long. Some support is needed for them to grow, such as a fence, trellis or two wires stretched between poles. The stems are thick and flexible, lacking significant thorns, so they are easy to work with. The leaves are large, about 6 inches across, but divided into 5 leaflets, each about 3 inches long. They are light green and glossy, shaped like broad ovals. In fall they turn yellow. Each year new stems, called canes, are produced from the base of the bush, growing more or less to their full length. The next year those canes produce side-stems carrying flowers.
The flowers are in clusters of between 5 and 10. They are cup-shaped, with 5 white, spreading petals and a fuzzy yellow center of pollen-bearing stamens. Leaves usually start to grow in March or April, and the flowers are blooming in May. The first berries – up to 10 per cluster, ripen around the end of June and continue through most of July. That’s weeks of fresh berries, which can be extended even longer by storing fresh in the fridge, freezing, and of course making preserves and delicious jams. These are probably the largest blackberries ever seen, yet their texture is excellent, and their flavor great too, with a balance of sweet and tart that everyone will love. Each berry weighs ½ ounce, and is two inches long, blue-black, carried on a long stalk. It is easy to pick, coming right off the stem when ripe, and a well-grown established bush can yield up to 15 pounds of fruit.
If you have a fence, you have a place to grow the Columbia Giant Blackberry. It can be grown on any fairly sturdy support, such as a fence, wall or trellis. If you don’t have a suitable spot, stretch two strong wires between poles driven into the ground, placing the first wire 3 feet above the ground, and the second 5 feet above the ground. Attach the new stems to the wires or trellis as they grow, with soft, loose string, spreading them out. Space plants at least 5 feet apart if you are planting a row, or growing with other cane fruits.
This variety of blackberry is hardy from zone 6 into zone 9, growing best in areas with winters that are not too cold, and summers that are not too dry and hot.
For best results, grow the Columbia Giant blackberry in full sun, although a couple of hours of shade a day will not be a serious problem. It grows best in richer, moist soils that are well-drained, but established plants have moderate drought resistance, especially after the harvest season.
Prepare the soil well with compost or other organic materials when planting. Don’t plant any deeper than in the container, keeping the crown of the plant at ground level. Mulch in spring with more organic material, and you can use fertilizer at that time if you want to, especially if your soil is poor and low in nutrients. Attached new stems temporarily to the support as they grow. Then, after harvest, remove the canes that have fruited completely, close to the ground. Tie in the new, fruitless canes permanently to the support system. If you don’t remove the old canes you will soon have a large tangle of stems that will be hard to deal with, so this pruning is important.
Modern blackberries are complex hybrids of different species and many varieties. The variety called Columbia Giant was created by Chad Finn, an expert in cane fruits and berries at Oregon State University. It used the thornless genes from an older variety called Lincoln Logan, and genes from many other varieties, to become a distinct, complex hybrid plant. It was first identified in 2008 at the US Department of Agriculture’s Research Service facility in Corvallis, Oregon. After extensive trials and testing it was patented in 2017, to benefit the USDA.
You are going to love this unique berry, and so will your family. Your kids – and you neighbors – will be amazed at these giant blackberries, and how delicious they taste. Not just a gimmick but a serious creation by a skilled breeder, order now, because everyone wants a bite of this delicious berry.