[gardening] himalayan blackberries

Home Forums Open Discussion [gardening] himalayan blackberries

  • This topic is empty.
Viewing 25 posts - 1 through 25 (of 27 total)
  • Author
  • #602916


    so after fighting back blackberry canes on a wild hillside for a couple of years, i have noticed something:

    they don’t like to grow on, under, or near english laurel. neither does morning glory.

    to my surprise, king county lists english laurel as invasive and noxious. it’s actually an attractive tree that provides some nice privacy. and, like i said, it stops blackberry canes in their tracks.

    i inherited all three of these non-native, naturalized, and noxious plants. and english ivy. and horse tail. and holly. it’s like a noxious weed library. i didn’t plant any of them, mind you, and i’ve been gradually reducing their footprint and am beginning to work native plants into the landscape to compete for water with the noxious ones. for example, i uncovered an indian plum that is now approaching 12 feet in height. once i pulled the climbing vines off of it, it shot up like a rocket.

    my question to other forum gardeners out there is if you know of any native plants that cause a similar retraction in blackberries and/or morning glory like the english laurel does.



    great question. i can’t wait for the answer.


    The Velvet Bulldog

    Hi redblack: first of all, HUGE kudos to you for tackling the invasives! For many of us, we didn’t plant them, but we have to get rid of them for the sake of our native habitats. (Um yeah, I studied horticultural restoration.)

    Interesting about the laurel–I’m wondering if it’s shading out the blackberry? That’s really the best way to get rid of blackberry is to shade it out using native canopy.

    In our new yard, there is also a smallish laurel. It’s providing some screening, so since I don’t have anything to replace it with yet, I’ve got out and cut off all the branches with blooms on them so it won’t set any seed or fruit, or pollinate anything. The birds are helping to spread the laurel (and the holly and the blackberry) and it really is starting to be a problem in our native forests.

    Sending you good and energetic vibes to keep tackling the invasives! And giving myself some too so I can go out and pull all the English ivy I inherited! GAH!



    Hi there-

    A few additional comments: laurel grows very densely (as you no doubt know) and has a wide tolerance range for conditions, so it rapidly out-competed natives. It also reproduces very efficiently, by seeds, suckers, and even just stems touching the ground (called “layering”). To get rid of it, the most effective thing you can do (IMO) is cut the stems and swipe-apply a glyphosate (YES, I KNOW THEY ARE EVIL, BUT SWIPE-APPLICATION PREVENTS UNINTENTED CONTAMINATION). Then you still have to pull sprouts.

    But to answer your question – Jeez, Himalayan blackberry is a tough one to shade out because it also readily out-competeS natives before they (the natives) can become established. Again, swiping a glyphosate onto cut canes and controlling sprouts will do it.


    Congrats on your Indian plum! Reminds me of my mock oranges and twinberry.


    The Velvet Bulldog

    Just to follow up and reinforce what amalia said: Glyphosate has a very short half-life (which I can’t remember off the top of my head) so it’s toxicity degrades rapidly. Also, it’s less toxic to humans than aspirin.

    Painting Glyphosate onto individual blackberry canes can be time-consuming (do this in the fall, when they’re storing up their nutrient reserves) but so is grubbing out blackberry root balls for the rest of your life.



    “so after fighting back blackberry canes on a wild hillside for a couple of years, i have noticed something:

    they don’t like to grow on, under, or near english laurel. neither does morning glory.”

    Humbug. We are currently tearing out a very mature laurel hedge and it’s full of blackerries and morning glory. Infested.



    I’ve seen reports of ivy and blackberries painted with glyphosate simply sending up new shoots from the roots, even if the painted cane dies off. Glyphosate is also HIGHLY toxic to fish, so using it anywhere that runoff might directly enter surface water is a really bad idea. An exception might be made during our dry season, when it would have enough time to break down between application and rainfall, but this time of year rain is so frequent that I would just avoid it entirely. Grubbing blackberries out for several years running is a lot of work, but ultimately a more permanent solution. I agree, it’s tough to shade them out…in fact, the most persistent blackberries I’m dealing with are under a very tall native fir.

    As for morning glory, that plant is pure evil, and I have nothing but sympathy for those who have it in their yards.


    The Velvet Bulldog

    Check out this pdf about Himalayan Blackberries that I found through King County’s Noxious Weed website:


    Page 4, “Control Summary.” It will give you some best practice ideas for long-term control.

    I’m not advocating one control method over another, I just think everyone should have all the information so they can make appropriate choices for themselves, their families, their yards, and the surrounding environment.



    I’ll go a step further than TVB and recommend highly AGAINST using glyphosate (Round Up) on anything. Please read the following before you decide:


    I’ve battled Himalayan blackberries in almost every place I’ve lived in Seattle. I’ve got rid of them permanently in only two ways.

    Dig out the roots – preferably while the ground is wet, the wetter the better. The roots and little side roots slide out of the ground easily. If you miss any side roots, they’ll come back. so you have to patrol for shoots the next year.

    One other accidentally discovered option is to dump loads of chips on top of them and never get all the chips spread before the next load. Not only do the blackberries eventually give up, the chips break down to good compost. Eventually.



    I bet biodegradable fabric with chips over it on top of the area where the cut plants were would be even better than chips alone. Just watch for suckers arond the edges. I use cardboard and chips and still get suckers.


    Glyphosate is supposed to break down really fast and as long as you don’t use it near wetlands or streams, it’s generally considered safe (by environmental agencies, that is), but of course everyone can decide for themselves. Opinions and facts might differ for pet-owners, too.



    I stand with KatherineL on several points. First, the latest studies on glyphosates are revealing that these products are not nearly as innocuous as previously believed. The politics alone are enough to turn me off (the Roundup/Monsanto pact) but personally – I would not go near the stuff. And I’m a professional in the field.

    I’ve never heard of laurel in connection to blackberry suppression. There are some plants which inhibit growth of other plant species, but this isn’t one of them. Which isn’t to say it’s not possible, just that I’m unaware of a connection.

    I’ve had success in eliminating morning glory with smulching, as KatherineL suggests. It won’t wipe it out right away, but the MG will spread through the soft upper layers of composting wood chips rather than anchoring itself in hard ground. This makes it much easier to pull out, and eventually it doesn’t come back.

    I haven’t tried this method with blackberry, but it’s worth a try. However, it might be difficult in an area of mixed plantings. I usually tackle blackberry during the winter when the ground is wet and it’s easy to pull. Sometimes there just aren’t any easy solutions – just persistence.



    Sounds like I need to update my mental file on glyphosates. I appreciate the information. Ditto on Monsanto! I worked on a wildlife study years ago in California that was one component of the big Monsanto lawsuit regarding DDT/DDE in the ’90s. Even when they behaved legally, they were [at best] irresponsible and clearly had NO concern for ecological impacts. And the settlement reflected that, which was oh-so satisfying.



    amalia, there’s a lot of info online about Monsanto’s “Roundup ready crops”. I’m including a link to what I consider to be a pretty credible source for info on the topic:




    thanks for all of your input.

    transplantella: maybe a different species of laurel? i read that the english laurel is highly poisonous. this one doesn’t hedge well. grows more like a wild tree, and exhibits what amalia called layering.

    i actually tried dipping morning glory into a sealed container of glysophate once to make it “drink” the poison – a method i learned from scott connor on “gardening in the northwest.” but i swear that that sucker just got bigger. so i knocked it off to avoid making it any angrier.

    nonetheless, i’m finished with the “better living through chemistry” approach. it’s fallacy, anyway.

    now, given that the entire back yard hillside is a noxious weed library, i’m picking my battles here. i’ll keep the english laurel for a while, because it has kept that part of the yard free of the more noxious species.

    i’ll even keep the english ivy for a while, because compared to morning glory and blackberry, it’s pretty tame. i’ve killed plenty of it so far, and it doesn’t scare me. it also provides some color when i rip out everything around it, pending better native ground cover, of course.

    next is to clear-cut a nearly vertical swath of hillside and put in a bunch of ferns. this will establish the armistice line.

    above that line, i’m going to plant a variety of berry shrubs: salmonberry, elderberry, snowberry, and huckleberry. also some nine-bark.

    trees aren’t an option due to overhead cabling. i already have a pretty centralized pacific willow for root structure/hillside stabilization. i had to save it when we first bought the house because it was being eaten by the ivy.

    i apologize. i could talk about this project all night, and i long for the day when it’s weed-free.



    redblack: do you know about the King Conservation District’s bare root sale in the spring? It’s over for this year, but get on the email list for 2013. Native plants are super cheap, as long as you’re okay with taking a bundle, I think typically 5-10 plants. I split some bundles with friends a couple years ago. Our snowberries and flowering currants are doing great! Good luck with the battle!




    i didn’t know about that, ghar. but i do now. many thanks!

    believe me, there will plenty of room in coming years once all of the non-native crap is gone.



    RB, I have a ninebark and some snowberry you can have if you’d like to provide contact info.

    I’d also advise getting rid of the ivy as soon as possible. It sounds as if it is mature, which means it produces berries. This is how it becomes established in other, distant areas, by bird ‘transfer’.

    There is a lot of confusion about native plants. For one, what is a native plant? Humans have been messing with the eco-system for a very long time, and many plants that are considered native – aren’t. Natives are not necessarily more disease resistant than non (what do you suppose native bugs eat?). Some of the plants mentioned are highly invasive. Even plants ‘native’ to Washington state may not be appropriate for our Puget Sound microclimate. There are about 10 or so popular natives that get planted around here, which does not in any way represent a “natural” or “native” environment. Not saying that natives are bad, just lots of things to consider.


    The Velvet Bulldog

    ghar: thanks for providing that link! I too will be planting lots o’ natives and was wondering if there was one place that had native plant sale listings.

    Again, RB–just want to commend you on your efforts. Sounds like a major undertaking and it sounds like you’re doing all the right things!



    Probably not helpful for you but. . . I have a section of yard that I’ve tried to clear of HB an English ivy for years. I got some chickens, penned them up in that area and a few months later – it was all gone. They don’t eat it but scratch so vigorously that the roots are so torn up. A year later I have had no return of either plant!



    There’s a gal named Lissa on Vashon who sells all native plants. Her business is called “Friendly Natives” and I believe she has a website.

    Karen, good idea! Wonder if goats would have the same effect?




    anonyme: this is a good source for native/non-native plant info:


    and the WA dept of ecology site for rooting info to help me determine what’s best for slopes:


    and, of course, the king county noxious weed list:


    are your plants bare root or potted?

    gmail: w.s.redblack



    Ten years ago I used Roundup as a last resort on Horsetail weeds. I had been pulling them by hand for two years and was losing the battle. I read somewhere to paint Roundup on with a small brush and only use it first thing in the morning on a really hot day. I can tell you that by midafternoon with the sun beating down those weeds were dead. I haven’t had to use any chemicals to control them ever sense.



    Go Natives donates much of their proceeds to bird-related causes – they have frequent sales in West Seattle and can also deliver, so I recommend checking them out. All appropriate native species, which is what I think a poster was getting at. Native is one thing, but site-appropriateness (in addition) will help your plants be successful. Talk to Don at Go Natives, he’s an expert.




    I would advise caution buying at the Go Native! sales. If you can talk to Don, he’s very knowledgeable. You should be safe. But the people running the sale aren’t so much. The plants are frequently labeled with only the genus name, no species. The same genus, but different species, can frequently be found in both western and eastern Washington, not the same climate at all. Make sure you know what you’re getting. I’ve been burned. And, yes, I have talked to Don about it, to no avail.

Viewing 25 posts - 1 through 25 (of 27 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.