How to Sow and Plant Summer Berries

The true tastes of summer, strawberries and blackberries are a real treat to pick fresh from the garden.

Modern Blackberry Cultivars Grow in Containers

Modern Blackberry Cultivars Grow in Containers

Robust and vigorous, blackberries experience few pest problems and tolerate a wide range of conditions, making them the perfect choice for beginners.

©2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Robust and vigorous, blackberries experience few pest problems and tolerate a wide range of conditions, making them the perfect choice for beginners.

Step 1: Raise Blackberries

Closely related to the rampant, prickly brambles found in hedgerows, many modern blackberry cultivars are more compact, thornless and produce larger, sweeter fruits. Choose these forms for containers, and they will repay you with delicate white flowers followed by heavy crops of late-summer berries. Blackberries are perennials and are best planted in early winter or early spring. Plant in an 18-inch pot, use soil-based compost and set in full sun or partial shade. 

Aftercare and Harvesting 

Even on compact cultivars the arching stems require tying into stakes or trellis, which can also be used to secure netting to protect fruit from birds. Do not allow pots to dry out, and pick berries when they turn black and glossy. Prune out stems that bore fruit at the base, and tie in new stems to stakes. In spring, refresh the top layer of compost, mixed with an all-purpose granular fertilizer; repot plants every two years. 

Step 2: Raise Strawberries

Strawberry Pots Filled with Trailing Berries

Strawberry Pots Filled with Trailing Berries

Strawberries have long fruiting stems that make an attractive trailing display in terra cotta strawberry pots.

©2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Strawberries have long fruiting stems that make an attractive trailing display in terra cotta strawberry pots.

Rich red, syrupy and sweet, strawberries really do taste better eaten straight from the plant when still warm from the sun. Conventional varieties fruit for about three weeks, so grow early, mid-season, and late season types, if you have space, for crops throughout summer. Alternatively, try perpetual or “everbearing” cultivars that fruit sporadically from late summer until the first frosts. Strawberries are sold as young plants and should be planted from late summer to early fall for a good crop the following year. Plant several in a large container with good drainage, and place in full sun. 

Aftercare and Harvesting 

Keep compost moist and feed plants every two weeks with tomato fertilizer once berries have formed. Cover ripening fruit with netting to protect it from birds and pick as soon as the fruits turn bright red. Plants are prone to disease and become less productive with age, so replace every three years.