White Mulberries (Morus alba) are one of the easiest fruiting trees to grow from cuttings. Anyone can do it and nothing is needed other than access to a white mulberry branch and some water.
White mulberries are incredibly useful plants: they are simple to grow and high yielding, the fruit is delicious easy to pick and often very abundant, they provide great shade, they grow very fast, the leaves are edible, leaves also make a nice ‘tea’, they can be used as high protein fodder for livestock and silkworms, all things considered they are an amazing tree.
I have grown mulberries from cuttings a few times now, I photographed my latest effort to show how simple it was.
Mulberry tree that I grew from the cutting below
I have been told from some gardeners that to grow white mulberries need all kinds of special techniques and equipment in order to grow them from cuttings. While this may be the case for other species of mulberry I am happy to say that this isn’t true for white mulberries. I have grown white mulberry trees from cuttings of actively growing trees in summer as well as dormant trees in winter, and both fared equally well.
In early spring (09/09/2017) I found a mulberry tree with a damaged twig, I assume it was damaged as someone brushed past it and broke it. It was labelled as a white fruited white mulberry. I have bought one of these before it was mislabeled, so didn’t want to risk spending money on another one and having it also mislabeled.
Part of a branch had been damaged, so the tree would be no worse off from me taking that twig, so I put the twig in my pocket and took it home. As you can see in the pictures, it was a tiny twig.
White mulberry buds opening
White Mulberry twig cutting
When I got home I put the cutting in a jar with a little water and put it on the kitchen window sill where I could top up the water easily. A few days later the buds started to swell, they then opened. A few weeks later tiny roots appeared. Eventually the immature fruits dropped off (I should have removed them as soon as I saw them as they just waste the cutting’s energy) and small leaves started to emerge. Once the roots grew a little longer I planted into a pot of soil (05/11/2017). It was that simple.
I should have planted it out a lot earlier but I kind of forgot for some time. It is not great to let cuttings sit in water with such long roots. Water roots and soil roots are slightly different and the cutting will need to adjust once planted in soil. Mulberry cuttings are very forgiving and will survive this kind of poor treatment.
Mulberry with tiny roots starting to grow
Mulberry cutting with tiny roots – ready to be planted in soil now
Mulberry cutting grown in water, very easy
You can just as easily grow a mulberry cutting by planting it in soil instead of putting it in a jar of water. I do it in water because I can see the roots and know it is alive. Having a cutting in soil may accidentally dry out and kill any developing roots, if it is in water this problem is completely avoided. Having the cutting in water you may not plant it in soil early enough and the water roots may get too long, so there are benefits to both methods.
When taking mulberry cuttings you don’t need rooting hormones, you don’t need humidity tents, you don’t need bottom heat, you don’t need daily misting, you don’t need special lighting, you don’t need to change the water daily. All of these things may help, but the cutting will survive and grow without them. I have never used any of these things with white mulberry cuttings and so far have enjoyed a 100% strike rate.
I simply put the cutting in a jar with some water and topped it up occasionally. Growing white mulberry from cuttings is that simple.
Mulberry cutting – should have been planted a few weeks ago
Mulberry cutting roots
There is no magic length of mulberry cutting that should be taken. Larger cuttings work well as they have a lot of stored energy, tiny cuttings like the one I used also survive and grow fast enough. While my cutting was only 10 to 15 cm long, and I have heard of people having success taking cuttings that were over 6 foot long! White mulberry trees are pretty hardy and forgiving.
my mulberry tree that grew from a tiny cutting, it is even larger now!
A larger cutting will usually provide a lot more fruit the following spring. My little tree may fruit this coming spring, or maybe it will not quite be large enough, only time will tell.
I had planned on using this cutting as rootstock to graft my white shahtoot mulberry . I may grow out this cutting and see if it does have white fruit. I can always take more cuttings later to use as rootstock if I want to.
I may eventually sell rooted mulberry cuttings, if I do they will be on my for sale page.
- Morus nigra (black mulberry)
- Planting and Care
- Maintenance Pruning Mulberry Trees
- Pruning Mulberry Trees: Wait Until Dormancy and Assess
- Then, Cut and Bend
- Pruning Mulberry Trees
- Mulberry fruits are rarely available in the market due to their short shelf life but growing them in containers can allow you to taste them FRESH. Check out!
- How to Grow Mulberry Tree
- Choosing a Pot
- Requirements for Growing a Mulberry Tree in a pot
- Mulberry Tree Care
- Pests and Diseases
- Mulberry Trees: Easy-to-Grow Plants for Container Gardeners
- Fruit & Vegetable Growing
- how to fertilize a mulberry tree
RHS, 2016. Mulberries (Morus nigra) https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?pid=642
Sharma B, Tara JS, 1986. Studies on the chemical control of Batocera rufomaculata de Geer (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae) a serious pest of mulberry in Jammu and Kashmir State India. Indian Journal of Sericulture, 25(2):84-87
Sharma B, Tara JS, 1995. Infestation by fig borer, Batocera rufomaculata De Geer (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae) in various varieties and age groups of mulberry plants. Journal of Insect Science, 8(1):104-105; 3 ref.
Shikata M, 1987. Plantations of tropical mulberry varieties at the Research Institute of Tropical Agriculture, University of the Ryukyus, and characteristics of these mulberry varieties. Science Bulletin of the College of Agriculture, University of the Ryukyus, Okinawa, No. 34, 209-221; 18 ref.
Smith AW, 1971. A Gardener’s Dictionary of Plant Names: A Handbook on the Origin and Meaning of Some Plant Names, revised and enlarged by William T. Stearn. London, UK: Cassell and Co., 391 pp.
Spina P, 1954. The black mulberry (M. nigra L.) in Sicily. Experimental researches on its floral biology. (II gelso nero (Morus nigra L.) in Sicilia. Ricerche sperimentali sulla biología fiorale.) Rivista della Ortoflorofrutticoltura Italiana, 38:328-37.
Tenea G, Calin A, Rosu A, Onisei T, Cucu N, 2006. Manipulation of biomass and biosynthetic potential of Morus nigra and Glycyrhiza glabra tissue culture by Agrobacterium rhizogenes mediated genetic transformation. In: 4th Conference on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants of South-East European Countries. 9th National Symposium ‘Medicinal Plants – Present and Perspectives’. 3rd National Conference of Phytotherapy, Proceedings. Iasi, Romania, 28-31 May 2006 . Belgrade, Serbia: Association for Medicinal and Aromatic Plants of Southeast European Countries (AMAPSEEC), 250-255.
UK CAB International, 1996. Pseudaulacaspis pentagona. . Distribution Maps of Plant Pests, December (2nd Revision). Wallingford, UK: CAB International, Map 58.
Vivarelli L, Alvisi S, 1934. An historical note on the mulberry species M. nigra and M. alba. Italia Agricola, 71:187-93.
Wiersema JH, León B, 1999. World Economic Plants: A Standard Reference. Boca Raton, Florida, USA: CRC Press, 749 pp.
World Agroforestry Centre, 2016. Morus nigra. http://www.worldagroforestry.org/treedb/AFTPDFS/Morus_nigra.PDF
World Agroforestry Centre, 2016. Morus nigra http://www.worldagroforestry.org/treedb/AFTPDFS/Morus_nigra.PDF
Wyk BEvan, 2005. Food plants of the world: An illustrated guide. Portland, OR, USA: Timber Press, 480 pp.
Red mulberry (Morus rubra) tree with fruit. Photo by Vern Wilkins,
Indiana University, Bugwood.org
Mulberry (Moras spp.) is a fruit producing tree that can provide gardeners tasty fruits. This tree also has a rich history.
Native red mulberry trees have been enjoyed by people in North America for centuries. On expedition in the mid-1500s De Soto observed Muskogee Indians eating dried mulberry fruits. Over winter the Iroquois mashed, dried, and stored the fruit to later add to water, making warm sauces that were occasionally mixed into cornbread. Cherokees made sweet dumplings by mixing cornbread and sugar with mulberries. The Timucua people of northeast Florida used the fruit, along with the tree’s leaves and twigs, to make dyes, and the Seminoles used the branches to make bows.
The introduced white mulberry was brought from China in the early 1800s as a host plant for silk worms in hopes of establishing silk production in the United States. Trees were planted throughout the United States; however, silk production was too costly a venture. Despite the failure of the silk industry, the mulberry trees did well.
The mulberry plant family, Moraceae, also includes figs, jackfruit, and breadfruit. Mulberry trees produce small, sweet fruits that resemble slender blackberries. Mulberry fruits are quite popular with wildlife. Visiting creatures will reduce the harvest for your personal use, but on a good sized tree there should be enough fruits for all to enjoy.
These deciduous trees can have male and female flowers on the same plant (monoecious) or different plants (dioecious). Berries ripen in late spring or summer. If you select a dioecious type be sure you plant both a male and female tree to insure fruit production. Be sure to pay attention when purchasing trees, there are also weeping and contorted mulberry trees that are purely ornamental and do not produce fruit. Red mulberry trees and white mulberry trees can both grow quite large while black mulberry trees are generally the smallest. When considering their mature size, black mulberry trees may be the most practical choice for home gardens.
Red mulberry (Morus rubra), is a native, deciduous tree, found in moist soils from South Florida to west Texas. Also called American Mulberry, this tree grows to heights of 40 feet tall with the tree growing taller in the northern parts of its range. The pollen from male trees is extremely allergenic while female trees cause few to no allergies. These trees produce reddish or black fruits that are considered to be good quality. Red mulberry trees grow fairly quickly and are able to provide you with shade and fruit relatively soon after planting.
Despite the name, fruit from white mulberry (Morus alba) trees can actually be pink, black, purple, or white. White mulberry trees actually get their name from the color of the flower buds, not their variably colored fruits. These fruits, while sweet, are described by some as insipid when compared to red and black mulberries. Flower buds on white mulberry trees emerge a bit before those on red mulberry trees and well before those black mulberry trees. This is a large tree that grows up to 60 feet tall and has some salt and wind tolerance.
Black mulberry (Morus nigra) is native to western Asia and the Middle East. This mulberry tree produces what many consider to be the highest quality mulberry fruits. Fruit from these trees is almost without exception black. Black mulberry trees are more popular in warmer, drier areas like California; when grown in Florida, they’re generally smaller with a more bush-like habit. If you’re looking for a mulberry bush worthy of the nursery rhyme, black mulberry just may fit the bill.
Planting and Care
Red mulberry tree in a home landscape. Photo by T. Davis Sydnor,
The Ohio State University, Bugwood.org.
Mulberry trees can be planted in many Florida landscapes as they thrive in infertile, sandy soils, are drought tolerant after establishment, and moderately wind resistant. These trees do best in full sun to light shade. Native red mulberry trees are usually found growing in the shade of larger trees.
When choosing a location, keep in mind that fallen fruits stain the surfaces they land on, so it’s best to avoid planting over driveways, sidewalks, and patios. Selecting a light-fruited cultivar can also cut down on the mess factor; look for ‘Tehama’ or ‘King White Pakistan’.
Mulberry trees require very little maintenance; they rarely require irrigation after establishment and generally do not require fertilization. As far as pruning goes, you can perform light pruning when trees are young to help create a strong framework of branches. With a mature tree, you should only prune to remove dead or damaged wood or crossing limbs, since the wounds caused when removing a major branches are slow to callous. Be careful when pruning your tree, mulberry trees have milky sap which can causes skin rashes in some people.
- Florida Plant ID: Mulberry
- Red Mulberry — 4-H Forest Resources
- Morus alba Fruitless Cultivars: White Mulberry
- Morus rubra, Red Mulberry
Maintenance Pruning Mulberry Trees
Karen asks about maintenance pruning mulberry trees:
“Hi David, Love your site!
I inherited my mom’s place in Citrus County Fl. She let her mulberry grow out of control and fruit really, so when I moved in August 2016, I wanted to salvage the tree if I could. Read that I could severely prune it to a height that I could reach and I did…holding my breath! The article said that severe pruning like that might delay fruiting for a season…BUT no! GOD had other plans. It fruited the most delicious and abundant (enough for me) crop I have ever had the privilege to eat!
So now this year I am wondering when to lob off the skinny branches. In July was I supposed to “pollard” to six leaves…I didn’t look up what that means…but I didn’t know to do it. It actually tried to put out fruit this week …weakly. But as you can see I cut the main trunk to leave the branches I could reach. And just now tied down 4 more limbs to reach next year… I know I should not prune limbs that are real low. But when to prune the ones that are reaching to heaven; like what happened to the original tree…very quickly became a giant!
I read some of your articles on the subject and want to grow a whole lot more trees!”
What a mess! Trees do what they want, don’t they? I’ve pruned back fruit trees before and been rather horrified by the insane amount of re-growth.
Fortunately, mulberries are very forgiving.
Check these out:
Those trees were chainsawed to the ground multiple times, then they came back and fruited.
Unlike many fruit trees which will skip making fruit after a pruning, mulberries are often stimulated to make fruit after a pruning. New growth regularly arrives with new berries.
Here’s my advice for Karen’s mulberry tree pruning problems.
Pruning Mulberry Trees: Wait Until Dormancy and Assess
Mulberry trees go to sleep in the winter and drop their leaves. The form of a tree without leaves is much easier to assess than one laden with leaves.
Once you see how all the branches are growing, it’s easier to picture a better shape you can shoot for.
Then, Cut and Bend
In North Florida I usually did my pruning in January/early February before my fruit trees awakened from their winter dormancy.
I would pick an uneven number of branches to save, then cut the rest. Cut weak branches, super-skinny branches and crossing branches to open up the space somewhat. Leave perhaps 5-7 decent branches behind to spread out and become the new canopy.
With peaches, you’d normally leave 3, but mulberries will bear a lot of fruit and each branch is a potential source of berries.
Once I have my new leaders, I bend them sideways and tie cinderblocks to them to “festoon” them. I noted the cinderblock in one of your photos and wondered if you were already pursuing this tack. Here’s a mulberry I pruned and tied in this fashion: And a peach tree I festooned similarly:
I like those long sideways branches. They produce more fruit than branches that head straight up, plus they are easier to pick.
Eventually, the branches harden up at the angle they are bent, and then you can remove the cinderblocks—or you can pull them farther down and re-tie. I would take a few of your big branches and bend them out away from the large sideways branches you already have growing. That should add some balance to the shape.
Know that the tree will send up new shoots straight off the top of the bent branches. You can prune some of those, bend them, or just ignore them as you wish. Mulberries can be shaped up at any point during the year, though I leave severe pruning for winter.
Don’t worry too much—it’s hard to make a mulberry unproductive.
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David The Good is a Grow Network Change Maker, a gardening expert, and the author of five books you can find on Amazon: Compost Everything: The Good Guide to Extreme Composting, Grow or Die: The Good Guide to Survival Gardening, Totally Crazy Easy Florida Gardening, Create Your Own Florida Food Forest, and Push the Zone: The Good Guide to Growing Tropical Plants Beyond the Tropics. Find fresh gardening inspiration at his website TheSurvivalGardener.com and be sure to follow his popular YouTube channel.
Pruning Mulberry Trees
Pollarding mulberry trees (question from the extension service 3/20/17)
Thank you for your question about pollarding your mulberry trees in Albert’s Garden.
Pollarding, basically pruning the upper branches of a tree, is usually done in order to keep a tree from growing too tall, and in this respect, it can help with better light. The new growth that emerges from a pollarding site is often thicker than “unmanaged” growth on a tree, so depending on the tree’s location, the amount of light that gets to nearby plants may or may not be increased. While it does serve to keep a mulberry, which can grow to 50 or 60 feet if left unpruned, from blocking some light from getting to certain plants, the dense growth produced by pollarding can prevent light from getting to others. If you send us a photo of the trees in situ, we may be able to give you more advice, but your familiarity with the Albert’s Garden site may be your best advisor in this decision.
Once a tree has been pollarded, a knob will form at the pruning site. The sprouts that emerge from the knob will need to be pruned every year or two, as they are very weakly attached to the knob and in just a few years can become heavy enough to be a potential hazard.
As with any pruning technique, pollarding is often done to increase the amount of fruit, not decrease it. Mulberries can be messy trees in this respect, and as you surely know, their juice can stain whatever it touches. Not only will their fruit fall all around them, but it can also be easily tracked on footwear through the rest of your garden, on walkways and even into someone’s home. People have reported removing the stains by using lemon juice or boiling water, but we have no personal experience with this.
It is commercially possible to prevent or at least lessen the formation of mulberry fruit. It usually requires the application of chemicals by a professional, however, and it can be expensive. If you want to go that way, please check with the City to be sure the chemicals your tree professional intends to use are approved under Local Law 37.
While white mulberries (Morus alba) can live for a century and red ones (M. rubra) rarely exceed 75 years, mulberry trees grown in landscapes usually live only 25-50 years, which means that your 40-year-old specimens may need to be replaced in the foreseeable future, at which time you may wish to consider other plants for their space. If you want to replant mulberries for sentimental reasons, you should either plant all male trees or a non-fruiting variety like M. alba ‘Fruitless’.
Hope this helps.
Mulberry fruits are rarely available in the market due to their short shelf life but growing them in containers can allow you to taste them FRESH. Check out!
The sweet and tart, mulberry fruits are rarely available in the market due to their short shelf life and also the leaf harvest to feed silkworms don’t allow the fruit business to thrive. So, it’s a good idea to grow them in your garden or yard. But what if you don’t have enough space or you live in a freezing cold climate? In that case, growing mulberry in containers is the one option you can try. And here’s all you need to learn to do this!
How to Grow Mulberry Tree
Information about Mulberry Tree
The mulberry tree is a small to medium sized deciduous tree or large shrub. Some cultivars exceed the height of 30 feet easily but the tree can be trimmed, and height can be managed.
The cultivars vary according to the climates– Temperates, subtropical or tropical; and it is usually grown in Mediterranean part, South-East Asia, North America, Australia, Northern Africa and the Middle East.
The size of the tree and the flavor of the fruit varies according to the cultivar too. Usually, mulberry trees grow best in subtropical and light temperate regions. All the fruiting mulberry species are divided into three types, according to the color of their fruits– Red, white, and black. Note that the darker mulberries are sweetest and flavorful than the brighter ones. The mulberry tree also attracts the wildlife profusely– critters, birds, and many other wild species.
There are many mulberry tree varieties available but the two container friendly varieties you can look for are ‘Dwarf Everbearing’ Mulberry and Mulberry ‘Issai.’ These two don’t exceed the height of 2 m. Other popular varieties are Morus alba ‘Pendula’ and Pakistan Mulberry. However, you can try any cultivar and keep the height under control by pruning.
Getting a Tree
Don’t start to propagate a mulberry tree from seeds. It is difficult, the germination rate is low, and the tree will take years to fruit if grown from seedlings. You’ll have to wait for 5-9 years for fruits, and it is also possible that seedlings you’ll grow may remain fruitless (male mulberry trees). So the best idea is to buy a grafted tree from a reputed nursery, NEARBY. This way you’ll get a self-fertile mulberry plant, and it’ll start to fruit in a year or two after planting.
Growing Mulberry Tree from Cuttings
You can also propagate mulberry trees from cuttings. Some varieties root easily; some take time. Here’s an informative article on growing a mulberry tree from cuttings, check out!
Choosing a Pot
Often people directly plant the fruit trees or shrubs in large pots, which is not right; this way the plant start to grow its roots rather than focusing on the growth above. START with small containers. For example, choose a standard 5-gallon pot (12 inches wide and deep in size) or a little bigger 7-gallon pot (14 inches deep and wide) and upgrade to one size bigger pot each time when you see the plant is getting root bound. Later increase the pot size to 15-20-25 gallons, depending on the space you have and the cultivar you’re growing.
Requirements for Growing a Mulberry Tree in a pot
The mulberry tree is found across all the continents. It can be grown in temperate regions and as well as in subtropical and arid tropical areas. It’s possible to grow it in USDA 5-10, and also in Zone 11 with slight difficulty, you can also try growing a mulberry tree in USDA zones 3 and 4 with care in winter. *When grown in cold climate expect your mulberry tree to shed its leaves in winter, the new growth begins with the slight warmth after winter.
A mulberry tree, like all other fruit trees, requires plenty of sunlight to grow and fruit. Therefore, find a position that receives full day sun and has a good air flow. If you live in a warm tropical or subtropical climate, place the mulberry tree growing in the pot in a spot that receives shade in the afternoon in SUMMER.
Use rich, loamy and well-drained potting soil that is slightly acidic or neutral in pH. The mulberry tree prefers soil that is fertile and rich in compost or manure. So make sure to add this, too. For a successful container grown mulberry tree, proper drainage is necessary. Soil that blocks drainage of water must not be used. Therefore, it’s a good idea to use a SOILLESS potting mix.
Deep regular watering is essential for a few months when your plant is establishing. Ensure the soil is not remain wet. Once the mulberry tree growing in container establishes, water moderately when it is needed, you can observe it by poking the finger in top 1 inch surface of the soil. Reduce watering in winter if growing in cooler zones.
*In USDA zones 10 and 11 or in any tropical region, keep the soil slightly moist and water regularly, especially in summer.
Mulberry Tree Care
Apply fertilizer moderately! During the start of growing season, you can spread the granular balanced fertilizer over the soil or feed the plant with balanced liquid fertilizer in a regular interval of 7-10 days. You can also spread a layer of well-rotted manure or compost over the top surface of the pot. Regular feeding of compost tea is also a good way to ensure optimum growth.
Basically, in containers, you don’t need to care much about pruning than the mulberry tree growing in grounds. The best time for scheduled pruning is when the tree is dormant and not growing (in winter). You can also prune after the fruiting season ends. Slight pruning and trimming of the dead, damaged, diseased, and crossing branches can occasionally be done or at the time of requirement anytime. In tropical areas, the pruning is done after the end of summer, right before the rainy season begins.
Mulching and Covering
As you’re growing a mulberry tree in a pot, you don’t need to worry much about the freezing temperatures in winter. Below USDA Zone 7, mulching over the top surface of the soil is important to insulate the roots. If you’re keeping your pots in an exposed spot, cover them with bubble wrap.
Mulching also resists heat in summer, so a top layer of mulch is a good idea for a mulberry tree growing in a warm climate.
Pests and Diseases
In diseases, mildew, leaf spot, and root rot can be a problem. By ensuring proper drainage and avoiding over watering, you can prevent root rot. In pests, thrips, white flies, mealy bugs, spider mites, and scales may affect the growth. However, these pests can easily be outnumbered and eliminated as you’re growing mulberry in a pot.
Birds love to nibble the mulberry fruits; it’s their preferred most favorite fruit. If you’re growing more than one plant in an open area like a patio or rooftop and if the birds visit there often, you may need to cover the fruits.
Contrary to the name of the type of color of their fruits, some mulberry varieties bear fruits in purple to dark red or black colors, when fully mature. So, for the best flavor wait until the fruits ripen on trees completely before picking them.
Depending on the cultivar you’re growing, the mulberry fruits ripen from late spring to late summer.
Mulberry Trees: Easy-to-Grow Plants for Container Gardeners
By Laurelynn Martin and Byron Martin
Last Updated: October 16, 2018
Mulberry trees have been well loved by historic figures such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Washington, purchased 1500 white and black mulberry trees (‘Morus alba’ and ‘Morus nigra’) in 1774, and used them for presidential plantings. Jefferson grew these fruit trees in Monticello, Virginia where he lined both sides of the road around his house with mulberry trees.
Mulberry trees are popular throughout the world, including Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Lately, the demand for these trees has surged in the U.S. and finding mulberry trees that bear fruit early, grow rapidly and produce sweet berries is sometimes difficult. At Logee’s, we have the perfect varieties of mulberry trees for containers or if you have outdoor space, they can be planted directly in the ground for many years of enjoyment.
Mulberries range from cylindrical to oblong and can get as long as two inches in length. The ripe berries dangle from the stem showing off their brilliant black or deep red coloring. Their taste is reminiscent of a cross between a strawberry and raspberry and the flavor can be slightly sweet to honey sweet. They have been used in ice cream, jams, jellies and pies. The fragile skin of the mulberry has discouraged commercial use of this berry but if you don’t mind purple berry juice stains on your fingertips, then it is well worth growing this tree in your home garden.
The mulberry tree comes from the genus Morus with several prominent species found throughout the temperate areas of the world. The flowers are dioecious being either male or female. Most cultivated mulberries are chosen for their female flowers. These are propagated vegetatively by cuttings, which gives consistent fruiting and growth habits as well as earlier fruiting plants.
Varieties for Containers
We grow several varieties but there are two that make excellent potted plants: Mulberry ‘Dwarf Everbearing’ (Morus nigra) and Mulberry ‘Issai’ (Morus alba). Both varieties fruit in small pots as young plants and they also have a fruiting and flower cycle that repeats itself throughout the growing season.
Mulberry ‘Dwarf Everbearing’ (Morus nigra)
Our ‘Dwarf Everbearing’ can be maintained in small 8-10” pots (or even smaller) and with a little pruning a plant kept this small can continue to grow for years. The fruit, like the plant itself, is small (about ½ inch in length) but abundant in its production and extremely sweet when fully ripe. ‘Dwarf Everbearing’ is a good description of this mulberry plant when it’s grown in a container. If it is planted directly in the ground, it will get much larger but when kept in a pot it stays well contained and fruits abundantly on and off throughout the season.
Mulberry ‘Issai’ (Morus alba)
This mulberry is a Japanese cultivar that flowers and fruits successively throughout the growing season. Its fruit is much larger than the ‘Dwarf Everbearing’ and the growth is heavier with a more open growth habit. It starts fruiting at an early age and can be maintained in a pot for years to come with a little help from the pruning shears.
When grown in cold temperatures during the winter months, these plants are deciduous. As they awaken to the warmer temperatures and increasing day length in spring they flush into new growth. New shoots appear along the branching stems from which flowers and fruit emerge. If kept warm year-round, they will hold their leaves and the flower and fruiting cycle will initiate when the light and temperatures increase.
As a rule of thumb, pruning is done during the winter when the plants are resting. Selective pruning of out-reaching leads (long branches) can be done at anytime of the year. Pruning helps to maintain height and size so it’s manageable for the container. Since fruiting occurs with each new growth, there is little disruption to fruiting.
Soil and Containers
Mulberry plants are very adaptable to different soils. We use a standard peat-based, soil-less potting mix and since these plants have little problem with root disease almost any container is fine. As is always the case for container plants, make sure they have good drainage.
Fertilizer and Feeding your Mulberry Plant
Mulberry plants need fertilizer for healthy growth and any balanced fertilizer can be given throughout the growing season. A soluble liquid fertilizer can be used at a dilute strength when watering once a week. Or, top-dress with an organic granular fertilizer sprinkled on the soil surface once a month. Mulberry plants are moderate feeders and although they will grow like gangbusters if fed heavily, it’s best to go easy on the fertilizer since the fruit production is better if the plant is not constantly forcing new leaf growth at the expense of fruiting.
For best results, Mulberry plants need a full sun exposure when growing spring through fall during the active growing season. Mulberries grow best in a southern exposure with sun much of the day. If you are in a northern planting zone, Mulberry plants can go outside for the summer months. The plant can grow under less light, such as an east or west exposure, but the fruiting will suffer.
When grown inside or under hot dry conditions, spider mites can be a problem. Keep a watchful eye for infestations.
Mulberries can take considerable cold into subfreezing temperatures with a hardiness to zone 7 or 10°F. With wrapping and winter protection, a couple of zones higher (zone 5 or 6) can be achieved for those who want to winter their plant outside. Remember that potted plants need to have their roots mulched in colder climates to keep the roots from freezing and thawing excessively.
One of the best reasons to grow container mulberries is the ease in harvesting the fruit. Plants with ripening fruit can be placed on a table and once or twice a day, berries can be picked up from under the tree as they drop. Also, if grown inside there is no issue with birds competing for the fruit. When grown outside, birds will consume all the berries in a single sitting unless nets are used. For more information, please or download our PDF Mulberry care sheet. You can learn more about growing Mulberries in containers by watching the video below.
Fruit & Vegetable Growing
If I were to pick one tree which has stayed with me memorably since my childhood it would be the mulberry. When I was a boy there used to be a massive mulberry tree growing in a vacant lot adjacent to the laneway I walked through to get to primary school. Every spring I’d grab a few quick bites before school and practically eat my fill after school.
Once I was too impatient to wait for the mulberry’s to fully ripen and I ended up eating too many semi-ripe fruits which swelled inside my stomach and gave me such severe tummy ache that I threw up painting the toilet bowl with the most vibrant pink you’ll ever see! I learnt big time from that mistake but it never put me off from wanting to eat them again (just the ripe ones).
When we first moved to our acreage 8 years ago, I was pleased to find we had one established mulberry tree; unfortunately, it turned out to be the kind with a very tiny fruit and a bushy growth habit more like a Black Berry and it was hardly worth keeping. Before I ripped it out (to replace it with a better variety) I had the opportunity to introduce my eldest son (James – toddler at the time) to mulberry eating and it didn’t take him long to get the gist. Whenever, we ventured into the backyard James would gravitate towards the mulberry tree.
Today, James is 10 and he and his brother Luke (7) almost never fail to inspect our two mulberry trees for ripe fruit daily often retuning with purple stained fingers and lips. Our trees are still rather young but they are producing well and this will only improve each year from now as the trees mature.
Growing a mulberry tree (or two)
The wonderful mulberry is a fast growing medium sized deciduous tree which produces dark purple/black elongated fruit (berries) up to 4 cms long. After a dormant period standing naked through winter the tree “springs into action” in early spring to quickly cover itself with large lime green leaves and the prickly beginnings of fruit which form and ripen independently over several months.
Fruit and tree size – Firstly, when it comes to choosing a mulberry tree for your garden ensure it is the type which produces the larger fruit (on average) a variety like the English mulberry is a good start. Some fruit on a larger producer will still be small but what you definitely do not want is a mulberry type with all small fruit because they tend to be hardly worth eating, and more so, the small fruit quickly dry and deteriorate when ripe.
Fruit size is about the only contentious part of mulberry growing because the rest is easy. Mulberries grow into a large spreading tree usually with a single stem (unless it wasn’t cultivated property or if it was cut back severely). The tree doesn’t get overly tall (maybe about 5 metres) but I’ve seen them double garage wide!
Soil – Soil type or growing medium is not a problem either and it will grow in just about anything as long as it doesn’t sit too long in waterlogged conditions. I had to move one of my mulberry trees due to accidentally planting it in a bog hole (which wasn’t evident through a drought) the tree was struggling on and wasn’t dying but it wasn’t thriving either and moving it helped the tree dramatically – I wrote about it here.
Site – Mulberry trees grow fine in part shade but full sun is the best position. They can be great as a feature plant in the backyard or near a picnic area. Due to the spreading nature of the tree, I wouldn’t plant one too near the house especially if the fruit was not expected to be fully harvested because it could get messy.
Mulberry tree in our picnic area (image above)
Care and fertiliser – I wouldn’t prune a mulberry deliberately each season because I think they are best left to grow as natural as possible. However, there will be times when the odd branch will need to be pruned or the tree kept smaller due to size constraints in a backyard and mulberries cope fine with pruning. If children are likely benefactors it’s nice to leave the tree drape some branches close to the ground so the kids can get some easy pickings.
Mulberries don’t seem to need much fertiliser and I’ve seen many neglected trees which have never had a fist of NPK but they still look healthy and produce lots of fruit. Nevertheless, I do fertilise our trees with a little citrus or fruit tree fertiliser once a year as the growing season begins.
Pests and disease – I haven’t had much experience when it comes to seeing pests or disease on mulberry trees, thankfully. Scale can sometimes invade the plant and a little organic oil spray fixes that or rubbing off with fingers. Fruit fly can occasionally sting the berries in susceptible areas according to my Aunt Nanette who has seen them in her mulberries but I live in a fruit fly area and ours don’t seem to get stung.
Mulberries are one of the best “berries” to grow. Unlike other berries, it doesn’t have thorns or spikes, it isn’t invasive, it’s not a cane or plant which needs to be cut back each season, they fruit profusely, they’re easy to care for, and they look great in the garden.
Mulberry trees can be grown from cuttings so if you see a good tree it might be worth grabbing a few small cuttings and potting them up.
You can get white coloured mulberries (the tree produces a white fruit instead of the dark purple or black).
You can get dwarf mulberries for pots or smaller yards.
Nutritionally, mulberries are high in fibre and a very good source of vitamin C, vitamin K, and Iron. They are also full of antioxidants and whilst I can’t guarantee it, eating mulberries should make you live longer…
An unripe mulberry (image above)
Mulberries make an awesome jam – but you already knew that.
The mulberry leaf is a food source for the silk worm and a great project for school kids is to keep some silk worms/caterpillars at home feeding them the mulberry leaves until they spin their silk cocoons to change into silk moths. Teaches children the cycle of life and also where natural silk for clothing etc comes from.
The mulberry tree is the base for one the most famous children’s nursery rhymes of all time – Here we go round the mulberry tree … or bush.
Overall, the mulberry tree is a very hardy plant and so easy to grow in such a diverse climate range that growing at least one is a must for any fruit and garden lover!
Considering just a few simple points from above the mulberry is a true wonder of the world as it’s not only a healthy snack and a hugely important commercial asset but it’s also the base for childhood memories.
So if you didn’t know a mulberry tree when you were growing up then it’s time to re-live your childhood, grow a mulberry tree and see what you missed out on – it’s never too late for a mulberry and it’s never too late to merrily go round one…
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Mark Valencia – Editor SSM
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how to fertilize a mulberry tree
Try this: https://www.gardenweb.com/discussions/5185228/pruning-basics-q-and-a-format#n=70 Branches are numbered by order. The trunk/stem is a first order branch, a branch growing from the trunk is a second order branch, and a third order grows from the second order branch, etc. Auxin is the suppressor of lateral (side) branching. Generally, if you cut a branch in half, you get branching in the leaf axils (see last image in my post above yours) of only the leaves on that branch. The reason: you removed the (primary) source of auxin for that branch only. ALL the other branches, unless you pinch or prune them, are still intact, with an apical meristem to produce auxin that suppresses lateral growth. I just want to know how to eliminate the leafless branch parts of my weeping fig. Let’s say you have a long branch or trunk with foliage concentrated near the branch/trunk end(s). If you prune a branch back so there is 1 healthy leaf left on it, then cut that leaf in half & wait, you’ll get back-budding proximal to (toward the trunk from) the half leaf. Once those leaves start to mature, you can pinch/prune back to the most proximal (closest to the trunk) leaf, and the same back-budding will occur proximal to the leaf you left at the second pruning. Keep in mind that how enthusiastic the response is depends on how healthy the tree is and WHEN you do the work. The best time to prune hard is about 2 weeks before the summer solstice, for a number of reasons, the most important of which are A) The plant will be as healthy as it can be, within the confines of other culturally limiting factors (low light, poor soil, lack of fertility, over-watering, ….) B) it will be approaching the peak of it’s ability to turn the sun’s energy to food (the summer solstice on the northern hemisphere is June 21) C) You should always prune the lanky winter’s growth from your trees every June, then regularly pinch until Sep or Oct, depending on geography, followed by letting the tree grow unimpeded by pruning for the winter. If your tree suffers from root congestion, it’s habit is to lose interior leaves (those close to the trunk) and resist back-budding. While pinching and pruning will work whether the tree is root-bound or not, you won’t get much of a bang unless there is room for roots to run in the pot. Proper nutrition is also important. Plants need an ample amount of N to facilitate enthusiastic back-budding. Al