Columbia Star BlackberryRubus hybrid ‘Columbia Star’ (PP# 25,532)
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Rubus hybrid ‘Columbia Star’ (PP# 25,532)
Outdoor Growing zone
The ‘Columbia Star’ Blackberry is a beautiful medium-sized blackberry with amazing flavor and rich sweetness. The fruits have a beautiful dark skin, and are top-quality, with great aroma and the perfect sweet and tart balance. This compact bush is only 6 feet tall, and can be grown on any fence or a simple panel of trellis. Mature bushes can yield up to 18 pounds each, in good conditions, so you will have plenty for eating fresh, baking or preserving.
Plant the ‘Columbia Star’ Blackberry in full sun, and in rich but well-drained soil for the biggest crop. Water regularly until you have harvested – after that it is more drought resistant. Blackberries are among the easiest berry fruits to grow, and they are generally free of any serious pests or diseases. Prune after harvest by removing all the old canes and tying back the new ones for the next year.
Growing the ‘Columbia Star’ Blackberry
You might have ‘fond memories’ of collecting wild blackberries, and emerging with a handful, and an armful of scratches. Forget all that, but bring back the delicious flavor, by growing the ‘Columbia Star’ Thornless Blackberry. No more scratches, but big, delicious dark-red berries that are very highly rated by everyone. Derived in part from the ‘Marion’ blackberry, a widely-grown variety renowned for its wonderful flavor, now you can enjoy that same deliciousness in your own garden, on thornless stems that grow to a convenient 6 feet and no more, making them super-easy to pick, and meaning they fit into a small space – perfect for a smaller garden or even for growing in a pot. The large, juicy berries ripen all through July, perfect for eating out of hand or tossing into your breakfast cereal. Just 4 berries make an ounce, each one perfect for a single bite, and you can expect to harvest as much as 18 pounds of berries from one bush in a good season, as that is what was achieved in trials. Eat raw in fruit salads, bake with apples into delicious pies and crumbles, or make into jams and jellies. Puree a few and pour over ice-cream – delicious – or use to make great smoothies.
Size and Appearance
The ‘Columbia Star’ Blackberry is a deciduous shrub that produces short, flexible stems from the ground, growing to about 6 feet in length. These can be grown against a fence or trellis, or supported on two wires stretched between poles. The thick stems have no thorns, so they are easy to work with, or be around. The leaves are large, but divided into three leaflets, each one oval and about 3 inches long. The handsome leaves are glossy and rich green. New stems, called canes, grow from the ground each year, and then in the following year these canes grow short side-stems that carry the flowers and fruit.
Flowers appear shortly after the new leaves, and are blooming by May. They are in clusters of 4 to 10, and each bloom is a simple, charming bowl of pure white petals surrounding a fuzzy yellow center of stamens. One advantage of growing fruit bushes is that, unlike many fruit trees, they don’t need another variety for pollination – just insects to spread the pollen around. So your single bush will carry a full crop. By early July you will be picking your first berries, and fresh ones will ripen right through the month – lots of time to harvest and make jams and baked goods. The berries are medium-sized, about ¼ ounce each, with a wonderful sweet and tart flavor and that distinctive ‘blackberry’ taste. The color is very dark, with a glossy finish. Once your bushes have been growing for a couple of years you could expect, under ideal conditions, a crop of 18 pounds of berries from one bush.
Using the ‘Columbia Star’ Blackberry in Your Garden
All you need is a support system for your ‘Columbia Star’ Blackberry. This could be a fence or a sturdy panel of trellis. A mature plant has some bulk, so make your supports strong. You can also grow them on two wires, stretched between poles driven securely into the ground. Place the first wire 2½ feet above the ground and the top wire 4½ feet above the ground. As new canes grow, tie them in and spread them out, using soft, loose loops of string for attachment. If you want to grow a row, space the plants 4 to 5 feet apart. You could grow different varieties of blackberries and raspberries on the same support system.
The ‘Columbia Star’ 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.
Sun Exposure and Soil Conditions
Full sun will give the best harvests, but the ‘Columbia Star’ blackberry will still grow well with a couple of hours of shade each day. Richer, moist, well-drained soils are best, but once established your plants will have some resistance to ordinary dry periods, especially after you have harvested the berries
Maintenance and Pruning
Prepare the ground well, digging in compost or rotted manure before planting. Be careful not to plant too deep, and keep the crown of the plant at ground level – don’t bury it. Use organic mulch like compost each spring, and use fertilizer in spring if your soil is not very rich. As the new canes grow each year, tie them loosely back on the supports. Once you have finished harvesting, cut out the old canes at ground level. You can also cut them back just below the lowest side shoot, and get another year of berries from them. Once you have removed all the old stems, tie back the new ones permanently, spreading them out to get lots of sunshine. It is important to prune each year, or you will soon have a giant tangle of branches, small berries and difficulty harvesting.
History and Origin of the ‘Columbia Star’ Blackberry
There are numerous species of blackberries, both in Europe and North America. Modern varieties are complex hybrids, involving several species and many older varieties. Chad Finn is an expert in berry fruits who works at Oregon State University, and for the US Department of Agriculture. He selected the variety called ‘Columbia Star’ in 2008, from among seedlings with a complex heritage, including thornless genes from ‘Lincoln Logan’ and ‘Austin Thornless’, as well as flavors from ‘Marion’ and other top-quality varieties. The breeding and selection took place at the US Department of Agriculture’s Research Service facility in Corvallis, Oregon. After extensive trials and testing, ‘Columbia Star’ was patented in 2017, to benefit the USDA and support further research.
Buying the ‘Columbia Star’ Blackberry at the Tree Center
Blackberries of this quality are not some gimmick for home gardeners to play with, but serious, top-quality berries created with great skill, and designed to grow the very best berries possible, with high yields. Yet it is compact, and simple to grow in a home garden, even right among your flowering shrubs. You and your family will love eating your very own berries – it is so simple and so satisfying. Order now, because this is one berry everyone wants to pop into their mouth, and we only have a few plants available.