Blackberry Competitors: Guide To Plants That Choke Out Blackberries
Companion planting is a practice used in gardening and agriculture where certain plants are grown near others to either enhance their growth, deter pests, or provide other benefits.
When it comes to blackberries, there are a few plants that you might want to avoid planting nearby, either because they compete for the same resources or attract pests that could harm the blackberries. Here's a list of some plants to consider avoiding as companions for blackberries and the reasons why.
Published: September 5, 2023.
Intro To Growing Blackberries
Blackberries, with their sweet-tart flavor and rich nutritional profile, are a garden favorite for berry enthusiasts.
These hardy fruits not only offer delicious harvests but also the joy of picking them fresh from the bramble. Whether you're a seasoned gardener or a beginner, here's what you need to know to grow thriving blackberry plants.
Before going through the list of plants that are not very good neighbors for blackberries, to better understand why, it is important to quickly check how to actually grow blackberries.
There are mainly two types of blackberry plants: trailing and erect. While trailing types require trellising, erect types can stand on their own. Some popular varieties include 'Thornless Evergreen', 'Navaho', and 'Arapaho'.
- Soil: Blackberries prefer well-draining soil with a pH level of 5.5 to 7. If your soil is too acidic or alkaline, amend it with lime or sulfur respectively. It's also a good idea to incorporate organic matter like compost to enrich the soil.
- Sun: These plants love full sun. A minimum of six hours of direct sunlight ensures healthy growth and bountiful harvests.
- Water: While blackberries are relatively drought-tolerant, they thrive when watered regularly. Ensure the soil remains moist, especially during dry spells, but avoid waterlogging.
- Spacing: Space the plants about 4-5 feet apart with rows approximately 8 feet apart to allow ample growth.
In the spring, when new growth begins, apply a balanced fertilizer (like a 10-10-10). Be cautious not to over-fertilize, as this can lead to lush foliage at the expense of fruit production.
Pruning and Training
Regular pruning is essential for blackberry plants:
- For erect types: Prune the tips of new canes when they reach 3-4 feet in height to encourage branching. In the late winter, remove any canes that have fruited.
- For trailing types: Train the canes onto trellises, and in the late winter, remove the ones that have fruited.
Pests and Diseases
Keep an eye out for common pests like aphids, spider mites, and Japanese beetles. Diseases such as rust, powdery mildew, and Verticillium wilt can also affect blackberries. Adopting good garden hygiene and choosing resistant varieties can help prevent many of these issues.
Blackberries are usually ready for harvest between midsummer and early fall, depending on the variety. When the berries are fully black and pull away from the plant without resistance, they're ripe and ready.
Growing blackberries can be a rewarding experience. With the right conditions and care, you can look forward to the annual harvests of these delicious and nutritious berries.
Whether you enjoy them fresh, in jams, pies, or smoothies, there's no denying the appeal of home-grown blackberries.
Blackberry harvest can be even better if you avoid planting some plants near them, including:
And here is in a little bit more detail why.
Artichokes and blackberries are both rewarding crops for home gardeners, each offering unique flavors and textures to the kitchen.
However, it's not always a good idea to plant them side by side in the garden, and there are several reasons for this caution.
First and foremost, their water needs differ significantly. Blackberries require consistent moisture, especially during the fruiting season, to ensure a bountiful harvest. Overwatering can lead to waterlogged roots, which is detrimental to their health.
On the other hand, artichokes, which originate from the Mediterranean, are used to drier conditions and can thrive even when water is a bit scarce.
When planted together, meeting the specific water requirements for each without compromising the other can be challenging.
Growth Patterns and Spacing
Blackberries grow on canes and can spread, especially if they are of the trailing variety. They need sufficient space to grow and spread their canes.
Artichokes, with their broad leaves and large growth, can overshadow and crowd out neighboring plants. The physical competition for space can hinder the development of both crops, leading to diminished yields.
Pesticide and Herbicide Sensitivity
Different plants have varying sensitivities to chemicals. If an issue arises with one of the plants that requires a specific pesticide or herbicide, there's the potential that this could adversely affect the neighboring plant.
For example, a treatment that might be beneficial for artichokes could be harmful to blackberries and vice versa.
Disease and Pest Transfer
While both plants don't share many common pests or diseases, planting them close could increase the risk of cross-transfer. For instance, a pest attracted to the artichokes might find its way to the blackberries as they are in close proximity, even if the blackberries aren't its primary target.
While both artichokes and blackberries are excellent additions to any garden, they each come with their own set of requirements and potential issues. Planting them together can complicate their care, making it harder for both to thrive.
It's always best to give each plant the environment it needs to flourish on its own.
Cabbages and blackberries may not be the best neighbors when planted closely together for many reasons, including:
Blackberries, especially during their fruiting season, demand a high level of nutrients, particularly nitrogen. Cabbages, being heavy feeders, also require a substantial amount of nutrients from the soil.
When planted in close proximity, they may compete for these essential nutrients, potentially leading to reduced growth and lower yields for both crops.
Slightly Different pH Requirements
While blackberries prefer slightly acidic soil conditions (pH 5.5-6.5), cabbages thrive in soil that is neutral to slightly alkaline (pH 6.5-7.5). Meeting the pH requirements for one plant could inadvertently create less-than-ideal conditions for the other.
Cabbages are susceptible to a range of pests, including aphids, cabbage worms, and flea beetles. While these pests primarily target cruciferous plants, their increased presence due to the cabbages can pose an indirect threat to nearby plants, like blackberries.
For instance, an aphid infestation on cabbages can lead to a greater overall population of these pests in the garden, which could subsequently spill over to the blackberry plants.
Cabbage is prone to several fungal diseases that thrive in moist conditions.
If you're frequently watering cabbage to prevent these ailments or applying fungicides, the nearby blackberry canes might be negatively affected, either by excessive moisture or by chemical drift.
Growth Habit Disruption
Blackberries, especially the trailing varieties, need space for their canes to spread and grow. Cabbages, with their broad, expansive leaves, can overshadow or physically interfere with the growth habit of the blackberries.
This competition for space and light can hinder the optimal development of both plants.
In essence, while both cabbages and blackberries are garden favorites, they each come with their own sets of needs and challenges. By giving each its own dedicated space, gardeners can reduce potential conflicts and optimize conditions for both crops to flourish.
Eggplants and blackberries are both popular choices for home gardeners, offering nutritious and tasty produce.
However, there are several considerations to keep in mind when deciding their placement in the garden. Here's why you might want to avoid planting eggplants directly next to blackberries:
Eggplants, being members of the Solanaceae family (which also includes tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers), are prone to pests like flea beetles, aphids, and spider mites.
Once these pests are attracted to the garden because of the eggplants, there's a risk that they could migrate and infest nearby plants, including blackberries.
Eggplants typically prefer slightly acidic to neutral pH levels (around 6.3 to 6.8). Blackberries, on the other hand, thrive in more acidic soil conditions (pH 5.5-6.5).
While the difference isn't drastic, optimizing soil conditions for one might not be entirely ideal for the other.
Blackberries need consistent moisture levels, especially during their fruiting phase. While eggplants also require regular watering, their roots are more susceptible to rot if the soil stays too wet.
If both are planted close together, ensuring the right watering balance can become a challenge.
Blackberries, especially the trailing varieties, spread through their canes, which can stretch out extensively.
Eggplants, on the other hand, are bushy plants that require their own space. Planting them too closely can lead to overcrowding, which might hinder air circulation, promote disease, and affect yield.
Both plants, though not directly related, can be susceptible to Verticillium wilt. If one plant gets infected, the disease can spread and affect the neighboring plant.
While both eggplants and blackberries are wonderful crops to cultivate, ensuring that they have their own designated spaces in the garden can prevent potential issues.
This separation allows gardeners to cater to each plant's specific needs more effectively, leading to healthier plants and better harvests.
Grapes and blackberries are both treasured additions to gardens and orchards due to their delicious fruits and aesthetic appeal.
However, growing them in close proximity may not be the best choice for several reasons:
Pest Attraction and Cross-Contamination
Both grapes and blackberries can attract certain pests, such as grape berry moths or Japanese beetles. If one of these plants becomes infested, these pests could easily migrate to the other, increasing the risk of widespread infestation.
Having them apart can serve as a form of buffer against such cross-contamination.
Certain diseases, like the fungal infection Botrytis cinerea (gray mold), can affect both blackberries and grapes. If one plant contracts this, the close proximity can facilitate the spread of the disease to the neighboring plant.
Another concern is Pierce's disease in grapes, caused by the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa. While it's primarily a grape issue, having weakened or diseased plants nearby could create an environment where vectors (like leafhoppers) can thrive, potentially leading to increased disease pressure.
Growth and Training Competition
Both grapes and blackberries require support and training as they grow. Grapes are typically trained on trellises or wire systems, and so are many varieties of blackberries, especially the trailing types.
Their intertwining canes and vines could compete for space, making maintenance, pruning, and harvesting more challenging. This physical competition can hinder their growth and fruit production.
Soil and Nutrient Competition
Both plants are vigorous growers with robust root systems. If planted too close, they might compete for essential nutrients, affecting their health and fruit yield.
While both do enjoy well-draining soils, grapes are a bit more tolerant of diverse pH levels, whereas blackberries prefer slightly acidic conditions.
Both grapes and blackberries need consistent water, especially during fruiting. However, grapes are slightly more drought-tolerant once established. The balance of providing adequate moisture without overwatering can become complicated when they are grown side by side.
While both grapes and blackberries offer numerous benefits to gardeners and vintners alike, ensuring they have separate spaces can be crucial for optimal growth and productivity.
By giving each plant the specific care and environment it requires, you can enjoy bountiful harvests from both.
It might sound strange, but if you're growing different cultivars of blackberries, be cautious. Some varieties can cross-pollinate, potentially yielding less desirable fruit.
Additionally, if one cultivar becomes diseased, it can easily spread to the others.
When considering companion planting, it's always a good idea to also think about soil, water, and sunlight needs. Some plants might be good companions in terms of pest and disease management but could be poor companions because they compete for the same resources.
Lastly, while these guidelines can be helpful, local conditions, specific plant varieties, and individual experiences can vary. It's always beneficial to consult local experts or conduct small-scale experiments in your garden to see what works best for your specific situation.