Growing Blackberries, Blueberries, Grapes, and Muscadines at Home

Collin W. Adcock
Horticulture Extension Faculty
Washington County
collinwa@ufl.edu

There are many types of temperate fruits that can be successfully grown in the Florida Panhandle. Growing your very own fruit in a home garden can be an interesting and a rewarding hobby. Growing fruits in the home garden can also be an attractive and uniquely different addition to the surrounding landscape.

In Florida, blackberries typically ripen during May and June. Photo Credits: Theresa Friday, Santa Rosa County

When deciding to grow blackberries, blueberries, grapes, and muscadines at home there are two things to keep in mind. Properly selecting suitable varieties (Table 1) along with maintaining plants appropriately are crucial in order to produce a bountiful fruit crop at home.

Blackberries can be one of the easiest fruits to grow. Some varieties are trailing and require support using a trellis system while others have upright growth and may not require support. Although many blackberry varieties have thorns, there are several thornless cultivars as well. It is good practice to plant several different blackberry cultivars together to promote cross pollination. Blackberry fruit is produced on the current year’s growth. This is something to keep in mind when pruning all fruit crops. When growing fruits, always base fertilizer application on a soil test. A rule of thumb is to fertilize blackberries in late spring or early summer using a complete balance fertilizer like a 10-10-10 at 1/4 to 1/2 lb per plant. For more information on growing blackberries visit: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/HS104.

Blueberries will form a bush with canes that will produce fruit for several years. Like blackberries, a good practice is to plant several different blueberry cultivars together to guarantee adequate cross pollination. Plant multiple cultivars together that fruit during the same season. A good design is to plant early season varieties with other early season and mid to late season varieties. Blueberries should be fertilized in February, April, June, and then again in August using a 12-4-8 fertilizer or some type of camellia/azalea fertilizer. Fertilize at a rate of 1.0 to 1.5 oz per plant per application during the plant's first year. During the second year apply 2 oz per plant per application. In year three and in later years use 3 oz per plant per application. For more information on growing blueberries visit http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/MG359.

Grape and muscadine fruit are produced on the previous year’s growth. Grapes are self-fruitful and do not need another variety for pollination. Whereas, muscadines are self-fruitful and self-unfruitful, so multiple varieties should be planted to establish good pollination. Fertilize using a 10-10-10 in April, June and again in August. During the first year of establishment apply 1/4 lb per plant per application. In the second year apply 1 lb per plant per application. In the third year on apply 3 lbs per plant.For more information on growing grapes and muscadines visit http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/MG105 and http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/HS100.

Table 1

Fruit

Blackberries

Brazos, Cheyenne, Comanche, Cherokee, Araphao, Navaho,

Blueberries1

Early Season: Beckyblue, Bonita, and Climax

Mid Season: Brightwell, Powderblue, Tifblue, and Woodard

Late Season: Chaucer and Bluegem

Grapes

Blue Lake, Conquistador, Daytona, Blanc Dubois, Lake Emerald, Stover, Suwannee

Muscadines

Black: Black Beauty, Black Fry, Polyanna, Southern Home, Supreme, Nesbit

Bronze: Carlos, Doreen, Fry2, Granny Val, Higgins2, Summit2, Welder, Tara, Sweet Jenny

1 Blueberries are self-unfruitful, so plant multiple blueberries varieties (for the same season) for cross pollination

2 Requires pollinator; self-unfriutful