Blackberries for low chill gulf coast?

Anyone have thoughts or recommendations for good blackberry varieties in low chill gulf coast regions? I’ve seen Kiowa recommended for this area, as well as a few local (I think) varieties like Rosborough and Humble. What about Arapaho, Osage, Natchez, or Oauchita? I grew triple crown when I lived in Atlanta but I believe it requires a lot of chill.

Kiowa is very nice but so many thorns. Rosborough is good but thorny too. Tried arapaho, navaho and several other thornless and did not get a single fruit. Got some oauchita and they have just as big of berries as kiowa and no thorns, bears heavily too. Pulled up the kiowa after oauchita proved out. I am in Houston area. IMHO wouldn’t try any thornless except oauchita. Buy them from Womacks in DeLeon, TX.

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Triple Crown 400-500 chill hours recommended.

Osage has a little better flavor than ouachita to my tastebuds but I’m not sure on chilling. I don’t think it has been documented much. Last year we had 500-600 chill hrs and my ouachita, Kiowa, Arapaho, and Osage leafed out and fruited fine. But my triple crown had major problems coming out of dormancy and flowering. Not sure it was a chill issue or somthing else.

Thanks all for the replies. I believe osage is supposed to have similar chilling requirements to ouachita so it may be worth trying for me. And thanks for the suggestions @mrtexas. Like you, I’d prefer thornless if there’s not a major benefit for flavor or ripening time. I’ll trial some varieties and see how they perform for me.

I’ve seen various chilling hours listed for TC, from 300-400 all the way to 800+. I tend to think it’s closer to the higher end. I rooted some and planted at a family member’s home who probably receives 400-500. Haven’t seen fruit yet but it’s only been a few years and the last few winters have been pretty warm.

I am on the gulf in central Florida. I am tearing out all my blackberries and going with Freedom and Traveler. Freedoms dumped so many blackberries I don’t need the ones I was growing . I plan on planting 1000 total.


Thanks for the report Bryce. What is the ripening time of your Prime-Ark varieties compared with the other varieties you have?

I can’t remember ripening times exactly but freedom seemed to start slow then kept producing more and more as I got to fall. Late spring to fall. My others just sparsely in the summer and mediocre at best. It’s December and I just ate the last of my freedoms. I like freedoms sweetness over the others as well.


Traveler I just planted so those I am unsure of.

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Hi Brad,
Let us know how your trials go. I have many friends and family in Houston and they’ve asked me about blackberry recommendations and all I could come up with was Kiowa.
Do you grow citrus, figs, persimmons and pomegranates as well?


I certainly will Kirk. I have grown all of the fruits you mentioned by I am fairly new to the Houston area so I don’t have a great feel yet for what will do best here.

All that I mentioned do very well there no-spray. Temperate fruits can do okay if you get low-chill varieties (chill hours vary from ~150 - 500 hrs depending on where you are in the Houston metro). Apple and pear are most limited, more options for stonefruit, peaches and japanese plums in particular. I grew up in Houston and developed a love for gardening and fruit growing in high school. Urban Harvest is a great organization of great people that offer fruit growing classes and have tremendous experience as to what types and varieties grow well there. They have an annual fruit tree sale in January with lots of otherwise hard to find local favorites (Ponkan and Pong Koa mandarins, Bloomsweet grapefruit, Suruga persimmons, Tropic Snow peaches, Pakistan mulberries, all figs and pomegranates are among my personal favorites). I have a small orchard I planted at my parents’ current home in Dickinson ~15 years ago. We’ll be back for Christmas and I look forward to the fresh citrus!


Houstonians (and SE Texans) mark your calenders. The Urban Harvest Annual Fruit Tree sale is Saturday, January 13th, 2018. It is billed as: The largest single-day fruit tree sale in the country featuring over 100 varieties of fruit trees that are suited to the climate and soils of the greater Houston area. I used to go in the early 2000s and got the plants for my orchard in Dickinson, TX.

If anyone is interested in cold-hardy citrus I could ship seeds of the Chou Chau Tien Chieh (CCTC) Kat Mandarin. I grew my tree from seed started in 2000. The top was pruned once or twice to keep it lower, but its still 25-30 feet tall and bears many hundreds of delicious zippy mandarins every winter (Dec-Mar, though my dad says he still harvests a few as late as May and he still likes them). They are small, they are seedy, but they are delicious. And semi-mature specimens have survived 7F in Arlington, TX.

Happy holidays all!

One more blackberry suggestion for gulf coast is sweetie pie a thornlessvhigh vhigh heat trailing variety developed by usda in southern Mississippi

Isaac, have you tried the Sweetie Pie yet. Mine had very low vigor on 2 different plants. Then the 8+ feet of flood water killed them. The Kiowa, which was a year older, survived the flood. I will state that they were in containers. The sweetie pies might have better vigor in the ground. If the flavor was good enough I might try it again.

I only planted mine about 18 months ago from small tissue cultures so not many berries yet. They are now about 4 feet tall with 3 or 4 shoots on each of 4 plants. Overall they were a bit slow getting started but have caught up with other thornless varieties planted 2 years ago

Are your sweetie pies doing well? Are they semi erect or trailing? I have some triple crown on order but might need to change my order or another type.

The Sweetie Pies are doing well, overall of the five varieties of thornless blackberries my two favorites are Osage and Sweetie Pie (also growing Prime Ark Freedom, Prime Ark Traveler, Ouachita), I also tried planting one Columbia Star last year, though it seems to have failed. The growth pattern of the Sweetie Pies are a bit different than all the others, with a more bunching semi-erect growth pattern, in other words the stalks all seem to come up from a 6-12 inch wide location and then arch out, vs the more spreading random stalk pop up from the other varieties. 3-4 years on now all of the Arkansas varieties have grown into a hedge like blend where it is hard to tell where row of one variety ends and the next one starts, vs the Sweeties pies that are still growing from 4 distinct small clumps.

Overall the two varieties I am the least happy with are the Prime Ark Freedom and Travelers, I have planted 9 or 10 Freedoms now, and only have 1 still alive, I lost all 4/5 I planted the first year, then lost all but one the second year. The Prime Ark Travelers are doing better, they are my earliest variety to fruit in the spring, and I also get a very small fall crop if I am lucky (it is just too hot here in the summer to get much of a fall crop), unfortunately they also have the poorest taste of any of the varieties, to the point that I may not bother to pick them, and am considering removing them and maybe replace them next year with the newly released Caddo variety.

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Thanks, that really helps I was considering a Prime Ark Traveler which I might now consider the Ponca and stop my order on the Triple Crown and order Osage instead. I already have Ouachita and Sweetie Pie ordered.

I also read that I wouldn’t get a fall crop since it to hot here.