Berries 101

Ask The Doctor —

You asked and Dr. Pam answered! This month, Arber’s Chief Scientist, Dr. Pam, will be tackling questions about berries — where to grow berries, how to grow berries, how to protect your berries, and the tools you need to master your berry game.


What are the easiest berries to grow and where?

All berries are relatively easy to grow if you have the space available to grow them! A few notable berries that I’d recommend growing are blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. Here’s why.

Blueberries take up the least amount of space, so you can put a few bushes here and there throughout your plot. For instance, at my mom’s home in Southern Connecticut, I planted three blueberry bushes for her — one bush was early bearing, one was mid-season, and one bush that bears late season. Now my mom has blueberries all season long!

Raspberries and blackberries are the easiest berries to grow just about anywhere! Both plants are not fussy when it comes to soil, pH, heat, and are relatively drought tolerant. These plants can grow into free standing shrubs or along a wall or fence, depending on how much space you have available for them to grow.

What are the most common pests or diseases to watch out for on the following berries — strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and grapes?

When growing berries, they are all very susceptible to disease, such as botrytis rot, gray mold, and powdery mildew. However, with the proper plant wellness program, your plants will stay healthy all year round!

If you are growing in a damp, foggy, or cool climate, you can expect to see botrytis rot or gray mold on your plants. To prevent these diseases, you have to be one step ahead of them! If you have foggy or wet weather for at least 3 days at 55-75 degrees, then you should expect to see mold or mildew, such as botrytis rot, appear on your plants. I’d recommend spraying Arber’s Bio Fungicide on your plants immediately after the rain stops, so you can be one step ahead of any fuzzy gray mold on the fruit or brown patches on the flowers.

If you are growing in hot, dry conditions you can expect to see powdery mildew on your berries. In addition, if you are growing in dry, warm climates that typically have winter rainfall, you can also expect to see powdery mildew appear. To prevent powdery mildew, I’d recommend spraying Arber’s Bio Protectant at the time of the bloom and also 14 days after the bloom.

Insect pests can be a problem with strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries, particularly lygus bugs or tarnished plant bugs. The problem with these bugs is that they poke the berries, suck the sap, and destroy the fruit. To prevent these pests, I’d recommend spraying with Arber’s Bio Insecticide at the first sign of any adult bugs and then every 1-2 weeks to prevent any further damage to the plants.

In addition to the insect pests above, spider mites are a problem for all these berries as well. To prevent spider mites, I’d recommend spraying Arber’s Bio Insecticide at the first sign of any stippling (a lot of tiny white dots) on the foliage and continue spraying every 7-14 days until you no longer see any stippling.

How can I protect my berries during the winter months?

To protect your berries during the winter months, pile hay, conifer branches, or compost over the base of the plants. With the exception of strawberries that will need to be planted every year like other annual plants, the other berries are winter hardy perennials.

What are the essential tools that are needed to successfully grow berries?

A few essential tools that are needed to successfully grow berries are pruning shears to cut back the grape vine as well as the raspberry and blackberry canes each winter.

Want to learn more? Have questions of your own? Follow along at @growarber and send in your questions to Dr. Pam.
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