Mulberry Tree: The simplest berries to develop

Mulberries are the perfect summer treats. It's even better when you can pick a handful of these cute dark fruits straight from your own mulberry tree! Fresh mulberries are 88% water. A cup of fresh and juicy mulberries (approx. 140 grams) contains only 60 calories, making it the perfect fruit for casual snacks.

Dried mulberries are also popular and can be eaten like raisins. The dried fruits contain 12% protein, 70% carbohydrates, 14% fiber and only 3% fats. Compared to most other berries, mulberry has one of the highest levels of protein. They're also loaded with iron, potassium, vitamins C, E, and K1.

Mulberry trees not only offer sweet, colorful fruits, but also provide shade in summer and attract a variety of fruit-loving birds, including thrushes, tanagers, warblers and orioles. In spring, when the tree is laden with berries, you can also expect bees and butterflies to visit your garden.

Get yourself an everlasting mulberry tree

Good products for growing mulberries:

Brief instructions for care

Mulberry treeGrowing mulberries is easy once you've planted a mulberry tree. Source: debcll

Common Name (s) Mulberry tree
Scientific name Morus alba, Morus rubra, Morus nigra
Time to harvest Mid-June to August
light Full sun
Water: Once established drought tolerant
ground Well-drained clay soil
fertilizer Compost or a 10-10-10 slow release annually
Pests Ants, birds
Diseases Bacterial rot / bacterial cancer

Everything about mulberries

Newly forming mulberriesMulberries look really weird the first time they are molded. Source: oschene

What is a mulberry? Mulberry trees are high-harvest, easy-care fruits. Once established, they require little maintenance other than pruning and the occasional watering. There are several types of mulberry trees. However, the three most commonly grown mulberry trees include black mulberry (Morus nigra), red mulberry (Morus rubra), and white mulberry (Morus alba).

Black mulberry trees are native to western Asia and produce the most popular fruits. It has been grown to produce fruit in Europe since the days of the Roman Empire.

Red mulberry trees are a little harder than black mulberry trees. They are native to North America, particularly the eastern United States, and thrive in deep, rich soils. In their natural habitat they grow along streams and ground areas.

White mulberry trees come from China. They were originally introduced in America as part of the silkworm production. These trees have hybridized and naturalized with the native red mulberry tree.

Mulberry trees are deciduous and reach different heights depending on the variety. White mulberry trees are the tallest, reaching heights of up to 80 feet. Red mulberry reaches 70 feet. The black mulberry tree, the smallest of the three species, only reaches 30 feet in height.

Mulberries are fast growing trees, especially when they are young. The leaves are arranged alternately on the branches. They are often lobed or sawtooth-shaped around the edges. The flowers are white and grow in clusters called inflorescences. Each fruit is a collection of stone fruits, which means that each berry is actually made up of individual juice-filled stone fruits, or segments, each with a seed. Together, the stone fruits form a single berry.

The fruit resembles giant blackberries or raspberries and can be used in a similar way. Mulberries are used to make jams, muffins, cakes, pancakes, sorbets, and the like. You can also put a handful of mulberry fruits in your summer smoothies or on ice.

Plant mulberry trees

Midsummer mulberryMulberry is naturally drought resistant. Source: Chris & Angela Pye

Planting a mulberry tree in your garden gives you unlimited sweet and tasty treats. Check out how to plant mulberry trees.

When to plant

While there is no particular time of year that is considered perfect for planting the mulberry tree, it is usually best to do so when temperatures are not extreme. Spring or fall planting is most common, with summer planting in areas with mild summer temperatures being optional. Do not plant when the ground is frozen or when daytime temperatures are below 32ºF or above 90ºF.

Where to plant

Mulberry trees grow well when planted in full sun, but can tolerate partial shade. Choose a location, preferably one that is sheltered from the wind and away from buildings, underground pipes, or fences. It's a good idea to place your trees at least 15 feet apart, with larger varieties up to 30 feet apart.

If mulberry stains concrete or pavement, you may want to choose a place that has soil under the tree's future canopy. Overripe fruit will fall off the tree and you'll always have a few splashes on the ground. In full summer sun, these splattered fruit will bake on any surface they land on!

Growing containers is an option, but it often doesn't produce good fruiting as you limit the height to around 6 feet or less. When you are ready to get your tree up and running, it might be a good idea until you have chosen the permanent location.

How to Plant

The success rate of germination is low on mulberry trees, so running seeds requires special care. Cold stratification for 4 to 16 weeks increases the likelihood of germination of mulberry seeds.

Start the seeds in a sterilized seed mix. Plant just below the surface of the soil and keep the growing medium moist. Once germinated, make sure they have adequate light for 12 to 16 hours a day as they grow. Cure the seedlings as they mature to the outside temperatures. Small trees under 2 years of age should be brought into the house in particularly cold weather or in the shade in very hot weather.

When transplanting seedlings (either home-grown or purchased), dig a planting hole that is as deep as the root ball and about three times as wide. Take the tree out of the pot and carefully untangle any circling roots. Plant the tree at the same depth as in its pot and fill it up with the removed soil. It is best not to alter the soil as you plant it so that the tree needs to stretch out its roots for moisture or soil nutrients.

maintenance

Unripe mulberriesWhen unripe, the fruit blends in with the foliage. Source: oschene

Mulberry trees are robust, easy-care plants. However, they still require high quality care in order to grow, bloom, and produce fruit. Let's talk about mulberry care strategies that will help you maintain a healthy tree!

Sun and temperature

The ideal conditions for your mulberry trees include full sunlight, moderate temperatures, and a little wind protection for young seedlings. But full sunlight is really the key here. While young seedlings can tolerate small amounts of shade, especially on summer afternoons, they grow better and fuller overall in full sunlight.

Mulberry trees grow best in USDA zones 4-9. There are frost-hardy varieties as well as varieties that prefer warmer temperatures. If possible, choose a variety that suits the climate of your region. In addition, these trees are deciduous in colder climates, but keep their leaves year round in warm climates.

Irrigation and humidity

While mulberry trees are drought tolerant, they grow and sustain best in areas where it rains regularly. Regular watering will ensure that you have high quality mulberry fruit.

About an inch of water a week is good once the tree is in place. For younger trees, water a little more often in the first year because their roots haven't expanded enough to find additional water on their own.

It is best to water deeply and not hard. Use a waterer hose or place a regular hose on a slow trickle and move it around the outside of the tree so the water can gradually sink into the ground. This allows the soil to absorb the water instead of letting it flow through, and the tree has easy access to it when needed.

ground

Mulberry trees accept very different soil qualities. In ideal situations, they prefer a nice loamy soil with organic content, but they accept almost all other conditions. Trees grown on containers can be grown in peat-based compost and peat medium to make a truly soilless tree, if so desired.

Well-drained soil is a must. If your soil contains too much moisture, the tree's root system can be exposed to various types of rot. While most mulberries are fairly rot-resistant, it's best to be proactive and make sure the soil drains easily.

Once established, mulberry is salt tolerant. Black mulberry prefers a slightly more acidic soil pH up to 4.5, but white mulberry and red mulberry varieties tend to prefer 5.5-7.5, with 8 being the uppermost limit for the viability of the fruit.

Fertilize

Minimal fertilization is required for mulberry trees. An annual application of compost in late winter or spring is usually sufficient. If you don't have compost on hand, a 10-10-10 balanced slow release fertilizer in late winter or very early spring is also fine.

Keep all fertilizer applications at least 6 inches from the trunk. This also applies to composting applications.

Pruning and training

It is best to prune your mulberry trees while they are resting. Late winter offers the perfect time to do this necessary annual trimming.

Cuts larger than 2 inches in diameter should be avoided as mulberries will bleed a lot of juice out of larger cuts. Larger cuts also provide more space for fungi or bacteria to invade the trunk and endanger the tree.

Instead of allowing a mulberry to reach its full height, it can be trained outward to make harvesting easier and to increase the overall size of the canopy. Young logs have surprising flexibility and can be bent and weighted down with concrete blocks to keep them angled outward from the tree base. Keep them for at least a year as this can harden the wood. Finally, you can remove the weights and the tree will keep its shape.

Multiplication

Mulberry trees are usually propagated by seeds, cuttings, or grafts.

Mulberry trees can be propagated from seeds or cuttings from an existing plant. Check out how to propagate the plant.

Seeds that we briefly discussed above. For cuttings, take 6-8 inch cuttings from healthy, sturdy branches. You want something no wider than a pencil in diameter. Remove all but the topmost leaves at the cutting tip. Dip the cut end in water, then in a powdered root hormone and soak it in moistened, prepared potting soil. Keep it moist and roots will form within a few weeks.

The grafting is best left to the professionals. Because mulberries bleed a lot of sap from cuts, it can be difficult to get a perfect graft for this type of tree.

Harvesting and storing

Almost ripe mulberriesThese berries are almost ripe and almost ready to be picked. Source: earthworm

How do mulberries taste? Summer of course! Regardless of whether you are growing a white or black or an in-between mulberry, harvesting is sure to be the most enjoyable part of growing a mulberry tree. Let's talk about it!

harvest

Young mulberry trees don't produce much in the first year, sometimes not even in the second. But after that, mulberry fruits hang heavily on the tree. These fast growing berries range from white mulberries to dark purple in color and are easy to spot on the tree.

The harvest for mullberies begins in mid-June. Depending on the species, it can take until August. Usually the red and white mulberry varieties are the first to start bearing, while the black ones ripen a little later

Hand-picking berries early will result in a tart berry. If you wait too long, the berry can fall off the tree on its own and be wasted. However, there is a method by which the more ripe berries are released. This method can be done every few days.

Spread an old leaf or tarp under the tree. Then shake the branches over it. The ripe berries fall on the tarpaulin, while the slightly underripe ones remain ripe.

storage

If you don't plan to eat the fruit right away, you can keep fresh mulberries in the refrigerator for 2-4 days. Keep an eye on them as, like other berries, they can go bad very quickly.

Freezing the crop is an option for long-term storage. Wash your berries and place them on a kitchen towel to air dry. After drying, place on a baking sheet with a piece of parchment. Freeze until firm, then transfer to an airtight container or freezer bag.

Drying is also a good storage option. After washing and crushing, add ¼ cup of lemon juice to 1 liter of water in a bowl and soak the berries in the lemon water for a few minutes, making sure that they are all thoroughly coated. Place them on the tray of a dehydrator and process them until they are completely dry. They have a raisin-like consistency.

Troubleshooting

Mulberry tree in winterIn cooler climates, the mulberry loses its leaves in autumn. Source: Groundhog

Mulberry trees have few disastrous problems like other plants, but they still have some problems to deal with. Let's talk about the problems you may face.

Growing problems

The Splash of berries is one of the worst problems mulberries actually have. If you don't harvest consistently, soft berries will splash off the tree, staining any nearby surface. The fruit then becomes a delicious temptation for ants and other insects. Keep the area around your tree regularly groomed so you don't end up with unwanted pests!

Pests

I mentioned Ants earlier, but this is also considered a pest on the tree. However, preventing ants in your mulberries is pretty straightforward. Invest in a tangle trap that can be painted on the trunk of the tree. It is best to paint a wide band that will encircle the entire trunk. The ants get stuck in it and never make it to the fruit. Repaint when the stickiness wears off.

Birds are another pest for mulberries because, just like us, they love the black fruits (and the red and white mulberry fruits too!). While it is possible to drape bird nets over the tree, it is usually easier to just let them do their part. However, they can be messy while eating. So be prepared to partially pick up berries that you dropped.

Diseases

Bacterial rot Bacteria caused by Psuedomonas syringae can cause black spots on the leaves and large brown spots on the fruit. This bacterium thrives around damp branches and leaves in areas with poor air circulation. If this option is not checked, cancers can appear on the branches and eventually the trunk itself. Damaged branches, leaves and fruits should be removed. If the trunk develops cancer, the tree itself should be removed before it dies.

To prevent this form of the disease, keep the canopy open so air can easily pass through. Remove branches that bend inward into the canopy or cross others to allow air to flow through more easily.

frequently asked Questions

Plenty of berries and leavesMulberry trees can be very beautiful when the fruit comes in. Source: Vanessa Marie Hernandez

Q: How tall do mulberry trees grow?

A: They are anywhere from 30 to 80 feet tall, depending on the variety. The white mulberry, morus alba, is usually the tallest.

Q: Why are mulberry trees illegal?

A: They are not found in most of the US and the world, but the male, pollen-producing mulberry tree is banned in certain areas. These locations include Phoenix, El Paso, and Las Vegas. All of these southwestern US cities have banned the trees because of the amount of pollen they produce. In the hot desert wind, this pollen can cause many allergy attacks. Areas outside the desert in the southwest usually don't have the same problems with the mulberry.

Q: Why aren't mulberries sold in stores?

A: The mulberry fruit is actually quite delicate and generally too fragile to make it onto the market. Sometimes you can find people selling their own crops in farmers markets but are unlikely to run into them in your supermarket.

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