The gigantic black fruit of the Kiowa Blackberry Plant is the largest Blackberry known, with berries reaching up to three inches long. Kiowa Blackberry Plants bloom earlier and produce fruit for longer than most other Blackberries, and the large Blackberries are sweet and delicious. Kiowa Blackberry Bushes are a summer bearing floricane type that is self-pollinating and their giant Blackberries are ready to harvest starting in June.
Grow these huge Kiowa Blackberries in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 5 to 9 in full sun and well-drained soil. Kiowa Blackberry Plants will produce fruit in their first or second year in the ground and the thorny canes protect the large, juicy berries from many hungry animals. These Kiowa Blackberry Plants can grow without structure, but a trellis can help keep them off the ground for easy harvesting, pruning, and maintenance. Plant this giant wonder in your edible landscape and enjoy one of the most amazing berries in the world.
Mature Kiowa Blackberry Plants grow to about five feet tall and three or four feet wide. Space new plants three to four feet apart to allow room for the canes to expand. Plant Kiowa Blackberry Plants in early spring after chances of frost have passed. Kiowa Blackberry Plants are self-fertile so a single plant can produce berries. But growing two or three of this variety within thirty feet of another floricane type Blackberry will likely increase the yields of each plant.
Choose a planting location that gets full sun or at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. Kiowa Blackberry Plants need soil that drains well and is slightly acidic with a pH of between 6.0 and 7.0. Kiowa Blackberry Plants only need a short amount of Chill Hours (about 200 hours per year) so they can be grown in traditionally warmer climates. These sturdy canes can be grown with or without a trellis, and you can even grow them in pots. Whether in pots or in the ground, growing Kiowa Blackberry Plants in a long row is a good way to maintain and harvest this thorny variety.
Harvesting and Uses
Kiowa Blackberries will turn deep black before they are fully ripe. This can cause new growers to think the berries are bitter or sour. Before harvesting, allow Kiowa Blackberries to not only turn black, but to soften as well, and you will find their flavor to be sweet, rich, and juicy. Harvest soft Kiowa Blackberries by hand and eat them fresh, use a few of the big berries for an entire cobbler, or freeze them for long-term storage.
Kiowa Blackberry Plants have a six week harvest season and a healthy bush can produce eight to ten pounds of ripe berries each season. That means you could potentially harvest over a pound and a half of Kiowa Blackberries each week or so for well over a month. Pick Kiowa Blackberries by hand every two to three days as the fruits are ripening and store them in a single layer refigerated in an airtight container.
Each year after the fruit has been picked the plants will go dormant in winter. When the leaves shed in fall, prune the shrubs back by cutting out the dead or broken canes first. Then remove the smaller canes and leave six to eight of the strongest stems on each plant. Cut these strongest canes back to about three feet tall and mulch the ground under the plants for the winter.
When the first new leaves appear in spring, fertilize with berry or bramble fertilizer and water in well. As the canes grow and blooms arrive, keep the ground moist but not soggy. You can add organic nutrition for the Kiowa Blackberry Plants at any time. Good organic materials include composted leaves, grass clippings, cow or horse manure, wood shavings, pine straw, or hay. Pull thick mulch back to add fertilizer directly to the soil surface, replace mulch, and always water fertilizer in after applying.
Are Kiowa Blackberries really the biggest Blackberry?
While it is possible that there may be an unknown cultivar that grows even larger berries, the Kiowa Blackberry is by far the largest commonly available Blackberry with fruits reaching the size of a medium-sized egg.
Are Kiowa Blackberry Plants self-fertile?
Yes, Kiowa Blackberries are self-fertile and can grow fruit on their own. Kiowa Blackberry Plants grown among pollinators will, however, usually grow more fruit.
How can I lower the acidity in my soil for Kiowa Blackberry plants?
Use sulfur to reduce the acidity of soil. Kiowa Blackberry Plants need a soil pH between 6.0 and 7.0.
Are Kiowa Blackberry Plants drought tolerant?
No. Kiowa Blackberry Plants need consistent watering to grow fruit, but the soil must drain as well. Water when soil is dry to two inches deep but not to the point of extended saturation.
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