19 Companion Plants to Grow With Blackberries
Not sure what you should grow with your garden blackberries this season? Picking the right companion plants for your blackberries can have many benefits, including better fruit yield. In this article, gardening expert Melissa Strauss shares her favorite plants to grow with Blackberries this season.
If you’re thinking about adding blackberries to your garden this year, I would love to go on record saying that you will not regret the decision to grow these tasty fruits. As a family who eats some type of berries daily with our breakfast, blackberries have become one of my favorite fruits to grow.
With their climbing habit, blackberries can grow in a small amount of space, and they promise to yield a great harvest beginning in their second year, and every year thereafter. They are wonderfully low-maintenance, great producers, and they pack an antioxidant punch that has very few rivals.
There are a number of different plants that can be utilized in increasing the yield of your blackberry plants. Some of them mutually benefit from the relationship as well and provide a harvest of their own. Let’s talk about blackberry companion planting, and what you can plant to increase your harvest this summer.
Companion planting is the practice of planting two or more different plants in close proximity to one another, to achieve benefits for one or both plants, preferably for all involved. In nature, this happens organically. Plants tend to grow close to those they benefit from a relationship with.
The practice of companion planting was used by the North American Indians long before English settlers arrived on the continent. Most notably, the trio of corn, beans, and squash, known as the Three Sisters, have been grown together with much success for all three crops.
To understand the relationship between the three plants, we look at each plant’s environmental needs and growth habits.
The corn acts as a trellis for the beans to grow upon. The beans draw nitrogen for the other plants to utilize, as well as stabilize the corn, and the large leaves of the squash plants serve to insulate the other plant’s roots and hold moisture in the ground as well as minimize the growth of weeds.
Blackberries as Companion Plants
Ideally, the relationship between all companion plants is a symbiotic one. Each plant will have specific things that they bring to the table, and also what they take away.
Let’s look at the benefits and disadvantages of blackberries as companion plants, and then talk about which plants make good companions for your blackberry plants as well.
Blackberries are such a delicious and healthful fruit to grow, and so easy! These vining plants are happiest when they have something to grow upon, and lots of water and sunshine. Their fertilizing needs are low, and they like soil that drains well.
In terms of what they have to offer in companion planting, blackberries grow well on trellises and have a rather small footprint in the garden. This makes them a great space saver. Blackberries also offer some shelter from intense sun and wind if they are placed in such a way that they shield another more fragile crop.
In terms of disadvantages, blackberries have only one that is particularly noteworthy. That is, they spread quickly, sending up new shoots in whatever spaces they please. This habit makes them somewhat invasive, so they are difficult to pair with other edibles, but they do very well with herbs and flowers, increasing pollination.
Mostly, blackberries are beneficial for human consumption, so despite their lack of offering to other plants, they are worth growing for that reason alone. More important are the plants that make good companions for blackberries by increasing the fruit yield and minimizing pests.
Companion Plants for Blackberries
There are plenty of plants that make good companions for blackberries. From drawing pollinators to repelling bad insects, and enriching the soil, each of these plants has something special to offer that will increase your blackberry harvest year after year.
Apple trees come in many different varieties, and most will grow in just about any soil condition. There are several varieties you can choose from for your garden which can be full-sized or dwarf trees.
They provide a lovely dappled shade that blackberries enjoy. The flowers are beautiful and attract beneficial pollinators to the garden.
Since apple trees are deciduous, their leaves drop to the ground after the growing season. These fallen leaves create a natural mulch that blackberries benefit from over the winter. Once these leaves decay, the soil is rich with beneficial nutrients such as nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus.
Grapes are vining plants with the same needs for soil and growing conditions as blackberries, making them good companion plants. Blackberries are beneficial to grapes as they till the soil, which helps the roots to spread out.
The only struggle may be space, as each of these plants requires plenty of space to grow. It is possible that these two plants can become intertwined, so be sure to train them to stay away from each other. Using trellises is a great way to accommodate both plants in the garden so they can still benefit from each other.
Mint is a classic garden staple and a very versatile herb to have in the garden. Planted with blackberries, mint’s strong scent can confuse pests that seek out blackberries to feast on. Flowering types help to attract pollinators, which will increase the yield of your blackberry plants.
Something to consider with mint is that it spreads rapidly. A small mint plant can take over a garden bed very quickly. Since blackberry plants have strong spreading habits themselves, this isn’t as much of a problem as it might be for other companions.
However, if you’re hoping to contain the mint, it’s a good idea to give it borders or keep it in a container.
Lemon Balm, or Melissa officianalis, is a member of the mint family and makes a nice companion for blackberries as well. Serving as a ground cover, lemon balm helps to protect roots and hold moisture in the soil which blackberry gladly utilizes.
Pollinators love this herb when it is in bloom, so it will increase your berry harvest. Be careful about the spread. As with other herbs in the mint family, lemon balm can become invasive, so it does well when given borders.
Used on its own, lemon balm is said to help relieve stress and indigestion, as well as being commonly used as a sleep aid.
This is one that many blackberry growers consider the perfect companion plant for blackberries. Hyssop is a tall growing herb that flowers generously and is very attractive to pollinators.
Hyssop also helps to protect blackberries from pests such as cabbage moths and flea beetles, as it is more appealing to these pests, and they will leave your blackberries to ripen while feasting on their neighbor.
Bee balm goes by many names, including the popular and common wild bergamot, and is another member of the mint family. While it is more commonly grown as an ornamental, it has a long history of use as a medicinal herb, as well as a culinary herb.
Bee balm has similar benefits to other members of the mint family. Its brightly colored and aromatic flowers are highly attractive to pollinators but give it some borders or you may see it popping up in places you don’t expect to see it.
Borage, commonly known as starflower, has been long used as a treatment for eczema, as well as a treatment for arthritis, and a great source of vitamins A, B, and C. The primary benefit of planting this herb with blackberries is its attractiveness to pollinators.
The pretty blue flowers are irresistible to bees and butterflies. Be careful about the spread of borage, as it can become invasive.
Tansy works overtime as a companion to blackberries. Sure, the flowers attract pollinators, but the plant has so many other wonderful qualities in addition. Tansy acts as a nitrogen fixer, which means that it takes nitrogen from the soil and makes it more available for other plants to utilize.
This plant is also high in the compound camphor, which repels insects with its strong scent. Tansy protects blackberries from insects that would ruin your harvest, but it is toxic to animals and humans so keep pets and children away from it. Using tansy as a companion to blackberries all but guarantees a superior harvest.
Chives are a wonderful companion plant for preventing pests. While blackberries are not especially vulnerable to insects, they are not impervious either. Chives and other allium family plants are rich in sulfur, which is a natural pesticide.
Growing chives as a garden border is a great way to protect edibles from damaging pests as well as deer and rabbits who aren’t fond of the scent.
Thyme is a wonderful companion for blackberries. Honeybees are attracted to its flowers which bloom from May through September.
It repels several bad insects and attracts ladybugs. Ladybugs love to feast on aphids, so they are always a friend to gardeners. Not to mention, this incredibly versatile herb is just wonderful to cook with.
Hazelnut bushes are attractive and provide delicious and eye-catching seedpods full of nuts in late summer. These attractive plants will not compete with blackberries for nutrients, and they provide plenty of organic mulch to aid in acidifying the soil which blackberries love.
Serviceberry is a lovely blooming shrub that will draw pollinators from far and wide. Planting these near your blackberries will ensure plenty of berries in the summer, and the plants do not compete for resources.
While this shrub can actually grow to treelike proportions, it can also be managed as a smaller plant. Its prolific blooming habit also makes it a delightful ornamental plant.
This immune-boosting berry shrub is less well known than most of the companions on this list, but Native Americans commonly consumed this fruit for its nutrients.
Thimbleberry and blackberry are relatives, as they are both members of the Rubus genus. These two plants have similar needs and will assist one another in attracting pollinators to bring about a stellar harvest.
Roses make very nice companions for blackberries. They are able to hold their own against blackberry’s rambling root system, and they increase the presence of pollinating insects.
Roses are attractive plants that make great companions, although they prefer more fertilizing than blackberries.
The large faces and bright petals of sunflowers are a heaven-send for pollinators. The yellow petals attract pollinators such as bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies, while the large, round center makes for an easy perch for these creatures to feed on the plentiful nectar.
These pollinators that are so attracted to these cheery flowers will pollinate your blackberry bushes to produce plenty of berries.
Beans and Peas
Beans and other legumes do a great job of improving poor soil that is lacking in nitrogen. They work nicely when grown in tandem with your berries.
Even better, though, is their use as a cover crop. Growing legumes is a great way to give your soil a break and add some nutrients back into the soil for new crops to benefit from.
Another member of the allium family is garlic. This plant produces potent sulfur that deters pests and animals from snacking on the blackberries. Aphids, mealybugs, maggots, deer, and rabbits all despise the smell of garlic.
It is also a natural fungicide and anti-bacterial plant that helps keep fungal and bacterial diseases away from its companion plants.
The relationship between blueberries and blackberries is a simple and symbiotic one. They have similar needs but won’t compete for nutrients.
They share common pollinators, so placing them near each other will increase your yield from both plants. Making companions of these two plants will save space and ensure a nice long, productive harvest.
Strawberries are a wonderful companion crop for blackberries. These two plants will increase the pollination and yield of both types of fruit.
Strawberries will prevent moisture loss and soil erosion for blackberries, and they are mutually beneficial when they drop their leaves in the fall. All of that organic material helps to aerate and acidify the soil, which both plants love.
Companion planting is a valuable practice that not only opens the door to new, useful plants but also increases the yield of plants already in your garden.
These companions all have great things to offer to blackberry plants, and many have benefits for their gardeners as well. Give one or two of these companions a shot and reap the delicious benefits of companion planting with blackberries.