Do you like minor fruits? Mulberry is the queen of minor fruits for its delicious, nutritious, and juicy palatability.
We will describe the best way to have an easy-to-care-for and successfully fruiting mulberry in your home garden.
Because of its difficult-to-harvest and massive fruit-producing habits, people usually hesitate to grow Mulberry in their home garden. Moreover, it grows too tall, making it problematic to trim the tree easily. However, Mulberries can be planted against walls if space is restricted since they can tolerate various soils.
Table of Contents
Quick Facts about Mulberry
- Common Name – Mulberry tree, Red Mulberry, White Mulberry, Black Mulberry
- Botanical Name – Morus spp.
- Plant Type – Deciduous tree
- Mature Size – 30–60 ft. tall, 20–40 ft. wide
- Sun Exposure – Full, partial
- Soil Type – Rich, moist but well-drained
- Soil pH – Mildly acidic to neutral
- Bloom Time – Spring
- Flower Color – Yellowish-green
- Hardiness Zone – 4–8 (USDA)
- Native Range – North America, China
- Toxicity – Leaves and unripe fruit are mildly toxic to humans
Growing A Mulberry Tree in Your Home Garden
A mulberry tree is equally attractive for humans as well as birds (masses of messy guests!). Furthermore, it has the habit of becoming invasive, which is why it is typically not well suited for small confined spaces and will be happiest when grown in large rural landscapes versus tiny postage stamp-sized yards.
Despite its spread and messy growth habits, the fruit of the Mulberry has many advantages. It can be grown for human consumption and used in freshly baked items, juices, jellies, and jams, and a wide variety of animals will take advantage of the bountiful fruit it produces.
Mulberry Tree Variety Selection
Choosing the correct variety of mulberry plant for your yard will be of key importance when first starting out with mulberries. Selecting the appropriate variety and growth habit will make the rest of your experience that much more enjoyable.
White Mulberry (Morus alba tatarica)
White Mulberry was imported from China for silkworm production and is not native to America. Although the white Mulberry has adapted to grow on many soil types, including sandy soil, rich loamy soil, silt loam, and clay loam, it will require moist, well-drained organic-rich soil for optimal yield.
People love to grow white Mulberry in home gardens because of its flexible soil-acceptance nature and high tolerance; it is flourishing in many places.
Red Mulberry (Morus rubra)
Red mulberries are native to North America and hardier than black mulberries. They demand deep, organic matter-rich soils (found near streams and bottomlands).
Red Mulberry can be grown from seed without stratification (a cold period) and planted in summer or fall. It can also be planted in the spring following 30 to 90 days of stratification in the refrigerator. 8 to 12 inches should separate the seeds before planting them. Trees will produce fruit in 4 to 10 years.
Black Mulberry (Morus nigra)
Black Mulberry bears the most flavorful berries compared to the above two types. It is native to western Asia and thrives best in USDA zones 6 and 7.
It produces tart mulberries with a shorter shelf life; therefore, the fruit traders do not prefer to sell it, reserving the black Mulberry for leaf harvesting only.
While the above-mentioned Mulberry plants get quite large and can quickly overtake a small yard, there are dwarf varieties of the Mulberry that will top pout at maybe 15-20′ tall rather than the standard 50′ tall. Still, these are also hard to predict as some seem to stop at around six feet while others will grow to 20 feet.
Propagating Mulberry Tree in Home Garden
You can easily plant your mulberry tree by propagation. For that:
- It is propagated by soft-wood cutting. Take several branches almost 4-5 inches long and with a sharp pruner to avoid damaging the remaining branches. The bottom cut should be close to a bud so that the chances of the emergence of roots will be more rapid
- Be sure that each cutting should not have more than 2-3 leaves, and dip the bottom end in a liquid growth hormonal mixture for a few seconds
- Make planting holes with a wood stick to avoid misplacing the applied hormone at the bottom end of the cutting and gently pat the soil around planted cutting to remove excess air bubbles
- You can plant more than one cutting in the same container until they have sufficient distance between them (the leaves of two cuttings should not touch each other)
- Cover the container with plastic for between humidity and temperature maintenance and protection from birds
- Do not place the container in direct sunlight; however, it should receive bright, sufficient sunlight for growth and development
- Mist the container regularly and be sure that the soil does not get dry
- When cuttings show 1-2 inches of growth, you can remove the plastic to let the cuttings acclimatize to the surrounding temperature
- After 3-4 weeks, dig out the cutting to check the root development to transplant them into the soil
Growing Mulberries from Seed in Home Garden
Growing Mulberry from seeds is a cheaper way of planting it home garden. For that:
- You will collect almost 1 pound of mature, fully ripened mulberries at the end of the season
- Soak the berries in water for 24 hours, drain the water, and mash them to expose the seeds; collect the seeds and put them on a plastic sheet to dry. Place the seeds in the refrigerator for 60-100 days; it is known as stratification
- At the end of the 60 to 100 days, prepare a tray with an equal blend of soil, peat, and perlite to sow the seeds.
- Sow the seeds as near the surface as possible because seeds sown too deep will not be able to come out and die there.
- Make the soil moist before planting the seeds. Keep the seeds at 86 degrees Fahrenheit for eight hours during the day and 68 degrees Fahrenheit for sixteen hours at night.
- Provide the seeds with sunlight for at least eight hours each day. Every day, check the soil moisture and water as necessary.
- The live, viable seeds will germinate in the coming 14 days. Plant the seedlings in soil or containers soon after they have developed sufficient roots
- After 12-24 months of germination, the seedling will be strong enough to transplant to the permanent place
Mulberry tree Care Tips
If you have selected the climate-compatible mulberry variety, you will not need to worry much about caring for and maintaining it because it will be resistant to many insect pests, diseases, temperature fluctuations, etc.
Following are some of the most essential things to be kept in mind while planting and growing a mulberry tree in your home garden:
- Although Mulberry is drought tolerant, regular watering will be better for a healthier and happier tree
- It does not require heavy doses of fertilization, but a light dose of urea (10-10-10) will be best for a healthier plant and sufficient fruit bearing
- Morus alba “Chapparal” is a seedless mulberry variety; best to grow in the home garden
- It is a fast-growing plant that spreads its roots far away and keeps growing straight until controlled by cutting back the tree. Therefore, be aware to plant it far away from a structure such as garages, ponds, sewage lines, etc.
- Morus alba “Kingan” is a drought-tolerant mulberry variety; best to grow in dry regions where frequent watering is difficult.
Growth Requirements Of A Mulberry Tree Grown In Home Garden:
Following are the necessary facts to consider while planting the mulberry tree and maintaining its health yearly.
- Light – Both “full sun and partial shade” are favorable for mulberry trees, while some of the varieties of Mulberry yield more fruit when provided with sufficient and more light.
- Soil – Mulberry trees can tolerate clayey, loamy, and sandy soils as long as the soils have and maintain adequate drainage. The trees may survive in a variety of pH conditions (from neutral to slightly acidic).
- Water – To aid in developing a robust root system, water your mulberry tree deeply and frequently after planting (two to three gallons per week for the first year is the best practice). Once they are established, mulberry trees can withstand short periods of drought, but extended dry spells can reduce fruit production or cause the unripe berries to fall off early.
- Temperature and Humidity – Most mulberry trees can withstand temperatures as low as “-25 degrees Fahrenheit” during dormancy, depending on the species. Areas with climatic temperatures ranging between 68 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit will not be favorable for developing fruit.
- Fertilization – Although Mulberry can survive without additional application of fertilizers, light doses of organic fertilizers before or after fruiting will help the tree to restore the nutrients it has given you in the form of mulberry fruits. Note: Use a balanced 10-10-10 combination and 1 pound of fertilizer for every inch of the trunk’s diameter and once in late winter (end of Jan or start of Feb).
Overall, the Mulberry is an easy-to-grow and abundant fruiting plant that does best when it has a great deal of space to spread and grow. If you are limited on space, you will need to be vigilant with your pruning methods to keep this plant viable for your yard, and it would be advisable to start with a dwarf variety in this case.