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How to grow loganberries

Val Bourne / 31 January 2017

Loganberries cannot be harvested by machines so finding them in shops is near impossible. Find out how to grow this unusual blackberry x raspberry hybrid for summer fruit.

Thornless loganberry
Thornless loganberry. Image from Pomona Fruit

What is a loganberry?

The loganberry is a cross between a raspberry and a blackberry with large dark-red berries that are raspberry-shaped.

Their rambling habit is more blackberry-like however and they need a supporting framework to accommodate their long stems.

They’ve never become commercially successful because they cannot be harvested by machine. They have to be fully ripe before the fruit comes away and the foliage tends to cover the fruit. You rarely see them for sale, but these commercial considerations should not put the home gardener off.

The loganberry wasn’t deliberately bred. It was a natural hybrid produced by a bee or bees carrying pollen between Raspberry ‘Red Antwerp’ and Blackberry ‘Aughinbaugh’. It popped up in 1881 in the Californian garden of Judge James Harvey Logan (18941 -1928 ). Logan was breeding raspberries and blackberries, but never dreamt that the seeds sown from his berries could produce a hybrid. It was named the loganberry in his honour.

Logan’s loganberry was introduced into Europe in 1897. In 1933 a prickle-free loganberry called 'American Thornless’ was developed and this became popular in the 1950s. It is far less thorny and also takes up less space. The most commonly grown thornless loganberry today is ‘LY654’ and this has the sweetest fruit of all and is less vigorous.

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Why grow loganberries?

Although most loganberries are too sour to eat fresh, even when left to become dark red, they make lovely jam, summer puddings and fruit compotes.

The berries are very vitamin C rich and there are plenty of them for two months of the year, typically July and August.

This means that they often bridge the gap between the summer and autumn-fruiting raspberries. They’re healthy, hardy, vigorous and free-fruiting and, on average, a loganberry will thrive for fifteen years before deteriorating.

Where to plant

Loganberries, like blackberries, need a warm, sheltered site that is well-drained.

South and west-facing positions are best.

How to plant

You can either buy bareroot plants, sent out between November and March, or pot-grown ones. These are generally available between March and August.

Plant bareroot plants while still dormant, digging a generous hole and adding some compost to feed the plant. Plant up to the depth it had been planted before (this should be clear on the bush's stem). Backfill the hole, firm in and water.

Plant a containerised loganberry during spring or summer, adding plenty of compost to the soil.

Loganberries often take a year or two to get going and they should be watered in their first growing season should the weather be dry.

Pruning and training loganberries

Pruning is tackled in the autumn after the loganberry has finished fruiting.

The idea is to cut out the older canes, the ones that have already fruited this year, at the base, leaving this year’s canes to fruit in the following year.

It’s easy to tell which stems are which. The newer ones are a paler green. If you’ve fan trained one, untie all the stems and then cut out the old ones and tie the new ones in. Or you can train them on wooden supports and wires.

Another good system, which is easier to do, is to bundle all the new stems (produced that year) together and tie them to the wires as a bundle on one side of the main stems.

When fruiting has finished cut the older stems down to the ground and then untie the bundle of new canes and spread them out to one side of the main stem. This half and half system creates a space for next year’s bundle.

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Tayberry 'Buckingham

Tayberry 'Buckingham image provided by Pomona Fruits

Other hybrid berries

The boysenberry

This loganberry x blackberry x raspberry hybrid, developed in America by Rudolph Boysen in the 1920s, is easy to grow in drier climates. It has a blackberry flavour and, although it’s never caught on here, it’s widely grown in New Zealand.

The tayberry

This blackberry x raspberry hybrid was developed at the Scottish Crop Research Institute in 1979. It produces large long conical berries that ripen to a deep red colour. These taste of blackberry. It’s best trained into a fan shape. ‘Buckingham’ is the most commonly available form.

Where to buy

Pomona Fruits

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.