En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
3 ratings

Thursday - September 10, 2009

From: Greenfield, WI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Unproductive Blackberries in Greenfield, Wisconsin
Answered by: Janice Kvale


dI planted 3 Blackberry bushes and 4 Red Raspberry bushes 4 years ago. This would be the 3rd year for productivity. My Raspberry bushes are dual bearing and started producing fall of the same year we planted them. However, my Blackberry plants are growing like weeds but no productivity as of yet. When I bought the bushes the instructions did say that it would be in the third growing season that we should see the first crop of berries. We are now in our fourth growing season. Nothing yet. Can you tell me if there is anything I may do to get them to start producing.


Rubus idaeus (American red raspberry) and Rubus canadensis (smooth blackberry) produce biennially,  growing primocanes one year, which become the berry producing floricanes the next year. The floricanes die and need removing after they have fruited. The primocanes, which will bear fruit the following year, emerge from the base or roots of the old canes.

Though wild hedgerow blackberries are quite adapted to the locations they select to spread themselves, you undoubtedly have one of the many commercial cultivars. Such plants prefer an area with good ventilation, full sun, and well drained, rich loam with a pH between 5.5 and 7. You do not indicate that your plants appear diseased or infested. In that case, three possible problems come to mind. First, you may want to check the pH of the soil to make sure it is appropriate for these plants. Second, some blossoming and fruiting species may produce luxiurous green growth and no fruit when they have too much fertility, particularly nitrogen. If you are fertilizing your plants, a recommended blend is 10-10-10.  Finally, consider if the winter temperatures have been too cold for the plants. Perhaps some winter protection is in order. 

There are other resources that are appropriate for you to check out. Consider contacting the supplier of your blackberry plants who may be aware of specific requirements for the cultivar you purchased. A local source of information for you is your Sauk County Extension Office. The agents there are knowledgeable about local conditions. Finally, the Essential Gardening Guide site suggests a plethora of potential problems in raising blackberries. Good luck in resolving this problem with unproductive blackberries!

Rubus idaeus ssp. strigosus

Rubus canadensis





More Shrubs Questions

What grows in Tampa FL
July 01, 2013 - Please let me know what grows in the backyard in Tampa, FL to provide screening and privacy?
view the full question and answer

Plant for part sun in Nampa Idaho
May 20, 2010 - What could I plant in arid SW Idaho on the northwest side of my house along a border against the house? Most of the day this area is in shade, but at the hottest time of the day it gets a couple of h...
view the full question and answer

Picture in newspaper from Austin
June 02, 2012 - Your gardening story for the Jan 21,2012 in the Austin American Statesman pictured a pale green bush with purple flowers, however the plant was not identified. Can you tell me what it is? Thanks
view the full question and answer

Stopping erosion on bank of a Florida retention pond
July 21, 2015 - I live on a retention pond, which has had all vegetation killed by the lake doctor. As a result the bank has eroded so there is a drop off directly to the water rather than a sloping bank. What plan...
view the full question and answer

Plants that will grow in clay in North Carolina
March 14, 2008 - I have a small fenced back yard, predominately hard red clay, that is a major focal point. I am designing my own garden/yard area (to cut cost) and have a list of plants that will grow in this soil w...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center