Growing Delicious Boysenberries at Home

If you've been looking for a nice, tasty berry that's easy to grow but just a tad off the beaten path, may we suggest boysenberries?

While the name is familiar to most of us, boysenberries don't necessarily jump to mind as a candidate for garden cultivation. But the truth is, they're delicious and easy to grow, combining the best qualities of raspberries, blackberries, and loganberries (because, you see, they're a cross of all three).

Let's take a closer look at these juicy goodies.

Knott What You'd Expect

Walter Knott of Knott's Berry Farm rode boysenberries to fame in the 1930s, after a USDA scientist tracked them down in an overgrown farm field. Now, you may be wondering why there are boysenberries, but no girlsenberries... so let's get that out of the way.

As it happens, Knott named them after the horticulturalist whose experiments resulted in the big, purplish berries. Sadly, Rudolph Boysen had to abandon his research after he broke his back in an accident.

Growing Your Own

While you can grow boysenberry plants from seed, it's easier to start with a cutting from a friend's plant, or a seedling from the local nursery. They aren't terribly cold tolerant, but they'll do fine up to USDA planting zone 4, providing you with plenty of fruit for several years.

The growing itself is simple. Plant seedlings at least five feet apart and provide something they can climb onto. It's best to train them to grow on a trellis or wire, so you won't have to deal with as many thorns when you pick the berries. That said, thornless varieties do exist.

Other Particulars

Boysenberry bushes prefer full sun and well-drained soil, and need water regularly. You can expect a nice harvest at the end of the second year, but keep this in mind: once a particular cane has fruited, it's done. Prune it away at year's end to make way for new canes.

Individual plants won't produce forever, so it's a good idea to occasionally add new plants to keep the harvests coming. You can propagate them easily enough by bending a new cane down to the ground before it fruits, and then burying about six inches of the cane 2-3 inches deep.

Patience: a Virtue Indeed

If you make sure the vine stays horizontal and the cane section buried (a law staple on each side will help), it'll eventually put down roots, and start sending up canes of its own. Give it something to climb on, and once it's well established, you can cut off the connection to the original plant.

Viola, a spiffy new boysenberry bush!

It doesn't take much to keep these plants happy. With a little care and a bit of fertilizer, you can enjoy up to 8-10 pounds of boysenberries per bush per year, starting in July and extending into August.

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