Guide to Blackberry Companion Plants
While blackberries can easily grow on their own, many keen gardeners will happily pair their blackberry plants with some companion plants. After all, choosing the right companion plants can easily deter pests from your blackberries (which most animals will find delicious), or perhaps may offer some nutritionally beneficial mulch that your blackberries can thrive in.
One of the fantastic things about blackberries is that they are not all that picky. Blackberries grow in various climates around the world. They can grow in the blistering sun. They can grow in the shade. They can grow in all sorts of soil conditions. This means that you really do have a massive selection of potential companion plants to choose from.
However, before we come to that, we do want to talk a little bit more about the ideal growing conditions for a blackberry bush.
Published: November 24, 2022.
Ideal Growing Conditions For a Blackberry Bush
As we said, a blackberry bush can thrive in many different climates. It is one of the easiest fruit-bearing bushes to grow. However, if you want to get the most from your blackberry bush, you are still going to need to ensure that it is grown in the right environment. If anything, it should help to make the selection of a companion plant a little bit easier.
Do bear in mind that there are multiple species of the blackberry bush. However, the conditions that they thrive in are very similar.
Blackberry bushes thrive in loamy soil. This means soil that is mostly sand and silt, although there will need to be a small amount of clay mixed in there too. This means that most places in the US should be fine. In fact, most places in Europe should be fine too.
The soil should have a pH level between 5.5 and 7.0.
While blackberry bushes can grow in the shade, they will thrive in the sunlight. Ideally, you will want to position your blackberry bush so that they get at least 8 hours of sunlight per day.
Because blackberry bushes like to spread out, you should have around 3 feet of space surrounding the blackberry bush.
This is especially important when it comes to choosing your companion plants. You don't want ones that spread out, too, because they could end up encroaching on the blackberry bush's space.
The Best Blackberry Companion Plants
So, with that out of the way, we can start to crack on and talk about the best blackberry companion plants.
Do bear in mind that this is not an exhaustive list. We are positive that there are dozens more companion plants that you can match up with your blackberries.
Remember, choosing companion plants isn't an exact science. It is all about making observations. While we can easily tell you what companion plants work well with blackberries, you may opt to plant something completely different, and you may end up with great (or even better) results.
One of your main aims when it comes to choosing a companion plant for your blackberry bush is to choose something that will keep the pests at bay. After all, you don't want pests munching down on your precious blackberries.
The problem that you will face, however, is the fact that most tall herbs tend not to work in the same soil as blackberries. Most herbs tend to grow much better in more neutral soil. Thankfully, you still have options. Some rather delicious options, in fact:
We know that some of these are not the tallest herbs in the world, but that is fine. They will still poke through the blackberry bushes and help to keep the pests at bay. These herbs won't be competing for resources, either.
You don't need many of them. Just place a few between your blackberry bushes, and you should be good to go!
This is one of our favorite choices when it comes to companion plants for blackberry bushes. Because, of course, not only do you end up with delicious blackberries, but you have some blueberries to feast upon too!
Blueberries love almost exactly the same soil conditions that blackberries do (blueberries do like something with a bit more of a neutral pH, but it should be fine).
One of the major benefits of having some blueberry bushes near your blackberry bushes is that the blueberry bushes can help to increase pollination.
This means that berry yields will be even higher, which is probably one of the main reasons why you decided to plant a blackberry bush in the first place, right?
Blueberry bushes do not compete for resources with blackberry bushes. However, we do encourage you to put some taller herbs around the blackberry bushes and blueberry bushes if you are going to go down this route. They both can attract pests, and you really do not want that to happen.
Mint will thrive in the same conditions as a blackberry bush, and it is a pretty useful plant to have kicking around too. Don't worry. The scent of the mint isn't going to be sticking to the blackberries.
There are multiple reasons why you may want to plant some mint alongside your blackberry bush. The major advantage is that it is a herb. It is known for keeping pests at bay. However, there is another reason why we are suggesting it here.
Mint is a very low-growing plant. It probably won't even poke through your blackberry bushes.
However, the fact that it does grow quite low will help to protect the lower branches of your blackberry bushes from pests. This can help to ensure that your blackberry bushes will not fall victim to mites and aphids (amongst a few other pests).
When you are thinking about companion plants, it is always wise to think about how a plant would naturally grow in the wild. After all, if a plant naturally grows alongside certain other plants, then there must be something beneficial happening there, right?
Well, if you were to look for blackberry plants in the wild, you would almost always find them growing underneath fruit trees.
We do understand that not everybody has the space to plant a fruit tree in their garden. So, if you have a garden on the smaller side of things, then you may want to skip this idea for a companion plant.
However, if you do have space, each of these fruit trees has been known to be beneficial to blackberries:
Oak trees can also work, but they do not produce fruit, so they are not as good.
The reason why fruit trees are so beneficial is because of the falling fruit and plant leaves. They both fall on the soil. Here, they will start to break down.
As they break down, they will release nutrients into the soil. These nutrients will then be used by the blackberries. Many people that plant their blackberries under a fruit tree find that they end up with far higher fruit yields.
Of course, during the warmer months of the year (and even the rainier days), the fruit trees can provide some much-needed protection for your blackberry bush.
We are back to the delicious berries for this one!
Strawberries work in exactly the same environment as your blackberries, and, broadly speaking, they will have the same growing season.
As you may well know, strawberries grow pretty close to the ground. This means that they can offer a bit of protection to the branches of the blackberry bush. However, they serve a much bigger role than this when it comes to their use as companion plants.
Strawberries like to spread themselves out a bit. If you had a field of strawberries, you wouldn't be able to see the soil underneath.
Because of the coverage strawberries offer, they help to prevent moisture from evaporating from the soil. They can also help to slow down nutrient loss. This is going to be fantastic for your blackberry plants.
Of course, strawberries will also lead to higher pollination rates, which can lead to greater fruit yields from both the blackberries and the strawberries.
If you are going to go down the strawberry route, then we suggest that you don't plan the planting all that much. Scatter some strawberries around. In our experience, this plant works a lot better when it is able to grow without limits.
After all, the whole reason you are planting strawberries is to ensure that you have good soil coverage.
Tansy may not be a plant that you have heard of, but it is going to be fantastic as a blackberry companion plant. Tansy serves a couple of roles here.
The first role is to help with the nutrients in the soil. Now, without getting into the specifics, tansy can help to convert the nitrogen in your garden's soil into nitrogen that is much better utilized by your blackberry bush.
Essentially, the tansy makes your soil much more nutritional. This will lead to higher growth.
Tansy doesn't have the best scent either, at least for pests. It seems to serve as a natural pest repellent. In fact, if a pest decided to munch on the tansy, it would probably kill them.
This may not be a plant that you want around if you have children or pets. It is toxic to them, too, although (thankfully) it will just make them a little sick. They won't have the same fate as those pests.
Starflower is a beautiful plant. It is available in a variety of different colors, so it can add a touch of flair to any garden. However, when you plant it alongside your blackberries, you aren't planting it to make your garden more attractive. You are planting it to make your blackberries more attractive.
Well-placed starflowers will attract pollinators (e.g. bees) to check out the plants in your garden. Not only this, but starflower also attracts insects that tend to feast upon pests. They won't damage your blackberries, either.
So, starflowers can lead to increased blackberry yields while also keeping pests at bay. What more could you possibly want from a companion plant?
A lot of gardeners are encouraging others to plant bee balm. This plant, as the name suggests, naturally attracts bees. You want bees around your blackberries. It will result in increased pollination and fruit yields.
Sunflowers can be particularly attractive to animals that may otherwise eat your blackberries. If you live in an area with a lot of deer, then you may find that the deer love to tuck into some blackberries. Who can blame them?
However, deer eat a lot, and just a couple of deer can quickly destroy the crop that you have worked ever so hard to grow. Sunflowers can help.
For some reason, sunflowers seem to be much more appetizing to certain animals than blackberries. A lot of people have found that planning sunflowers around their garden tends to keep their blackberries safe from harm.
Although, do bear in mind that sooner or later, those sunflowers are going to be eaten. When they are eaten, the plants will move onto your blackberries, so ensure that you harvest them before then!
Finally, we have hyssop. Many blackberry growers swear by it.
Hyssop grows nice and tall, which can attract pollinators. However, it can also ensure that there are vital nutrients inside the soil. It may also prove to be much more appetizing to pests than your blackberry bush is.
Hyssop grows quite thin, and you don't need much of it. Scatter some seeds around your blackberry bushes and you should be good to go.
There you have it. A list of what we believe are some of the best blackberry companion plants. As we said, this is not an exhaustive list.
There may be better options for you. However, if you are planning a garden, start by considering some of these plants. In our experience, they tend to be the quickest way to ensure that your blackberries can thrive.