Growing Blackberries without protection in Zone 5b

Can I do it? From what I’ve read, while the plants will survive, the blooms do not, so you have a living plant that gives you no berries. Can anyone else share their experiences?

Curiously, wild blackberries do grow here and fruit in the middle of a forest preserve, but I’m wondering if its because the tall grasses and plants create a microclimate.

I was looking at planting Darrow, but I hear it has some mean thorns. Was also looking at Illini Hardy but I can’t find it for sale.

Z5 is great for growing blackberries but it all comes down to the right genetics. If the wild ones do ok you should have no difficulty finding something suitable in a nursery.

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Wait, who told you that cultivated blackberries can’t grow in zone 5 without protection? I want to get my mallet.

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I’m in zone 5a (-17 F in 2017) and my Chester thorn free do great.

Nelson’s do fine here on the border of zones 3 and 4. Need deer and rabbit repellent or fence over winter. Critters ate a lot of mine when ripe. Nelson’s are very erect, don’t need staking. So Nelson should do fine by you.

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I have had Illini Hardy Blackberry here in Tennessee since around 2003.
I am in 7a…

But per Starks… Zone range 4-8 (their description below).

Wild-blackberry flavor! Developed by the University of Illinois for northern growers. Plants survive temperatures down to -23º F. Upright growth habit makes this variety easy to maintain in tight spaces. Hardy and vigorous plants produce abundant crops of top-quality fruit. Ripens mid to late July.

Here is what a bowl full looks like.


Oh man, those look delicious. Any leads on where I could get some Illini Hardy?

I got mine from Stark Bro’s… 2003 or so… they show out of stock, and item no longer available.

I checked noursefarms and indianaberry… did not see Illini there… may just be a old variety that no one carries anymore. Good Luck.

I have had no luck propagating them either… they are very erect and never trail to the ground and tip root, and no root shoots either.

Mine have some double-blossom, they are susceptible to that - but mine have continued to fruit well despite that.

Good Luck

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