Blackberries are the ideal berry bush if you are just starting on the adventure of berry growing. Among the healthiest of fruits, because of their high anti-oxidant and vitamin content, blackberries need just one simple annual pruning. They grow easily in almost any soil, and they present no significant problems to beginners. If you want to grow just one type of blackberry, then the Ouachita Thornless Blackberry should be it. It has an enormous yield, bearing 7 pounds of very large berries on every plant, spread over a month or more from mid-June to late July.
Start the summer with baskets of fresh berries straight from your garden and enjoy the goodness of home-grown food. These enormous, super-sweet berries are nothing like the tiny, sour blackberries that grow wild. They are packed with sugar, and even small children enjoy them straight from the bush. They also make wonderful muffins and pies, alone or mixed with their classic companion fruit – apples. You will have such a large crop you will also be able to turn them into jams and jellies, so you can enjoy that fruity goodness all winter long. Even fresh, these berries keep well in the refrigerator, longer than many other types, and you can extend the season by a couple of weeks at least by storing your berries there. That big crop will not go to waste.
Growing Ouachita Thornless Blackberry Bushes
The Ouachita Thornless Blackberry grows vigorous canes up to 6 feet long in a single season. In the first season these canes only have leaves, but the next spring they will shoot out with clusters of white flowers. These quickly become small green berries, which grow rapidly into large ones, turning black when they are ripe. As they ripen, new, leafy shoots are coming from the base of the plant. Once all the fruit has been harvested, cut out the spent canes at the base. Let the others grow, and next year they will fruit and continue the cycle. You will enjoy years and years of huge crops of delicious berries, even from a single bush.
Planting and Initial Care
Your Ouachita Thornless Blackberry bushes should be planted in a sunny place, but they will also grow in light partial shade. Enrich the soil with organic material, such as compost, as this will make your plants grow vigorously. They will grow in almost any soil, from sand to clay, and prefer moist but well-drained soil. Water well the first year while they establish, but mature plants will tolerate some drought. This hybrid variety is resistant to most diseases, and it rarely suffers any significant pest attacks. Since the stems completely lack thorns, handling this plant for picking or pruning is a pleasure, without any scratching or pricking.
Supporting Your Plants
The canes of the Ouachita Thornless Blackberry will grow 4 to 6 feet in a single year. They are vigorous and semi-upright, and this variety can be grown without support. It will be easier to grow it in a smaller space if you spread it on a sunny fence or wall, tying the branches back, and bending over the tips to encourage extra fruiting. It can also be grown on a simple trellis made by stretching two wires, 2 feet and 4 feet above the ground, between simple posts driven into the soil.
If you grow it without support, cut back the new canes to 3 ½ feet tall in early fall, to encourage more compact, upright growth. On a trellis you just need to cut off the last couple of inches of the canes you have bent over. Each year cut out the old canes as soon as they are finished bearing, and tie in the new ones as they grow. By supporting your plant you prevent the heavy, fruit-laden branches bending over and perhaps being soiled by touching the ground.
History and Origins of the Ouachita Thornless Blackberry Bush
The Ouachita Thornless Blackberry is the latest variety to come from the extensive blackberry breeding program at the University of Arkansas. It was bred from other thornless blackberry varieties by Professors John Reuben Clark and James N. Moore, who have created a whole range of wonderful new varieties. These have completely knocked older types out of the game. Big, sweet and juicy, choose the best variety from our range for your area, and have a long fruiting season by mixing early, mid-season and late varieties in your garden. The variety ‘Navaho’ has berries right to the beginning of August, and for an early crop, choose ‘Arapaho’ or ‘Natchez’.
The variety ‘Ouachita’ was awarded a patent in 2006, because of its unique and distinctive qualities. Our plants are produced under license from stem pieces tracing back to the one original plant, and they are genetically identical to it. Avoid other cheap, thorny and sour varieties and choose the best – Arkansas thornless blackberries. These bushes have revolutionized blackberry growing, and they are always in high demand from gardeners who know their berries. We have sourced a limited supply of top-quality plants, but order now, because our stock will not last long.