Care of Mulberry (Deciduous)

Long-lived deciduous trees with alternate, simple, lobed to undivided leaves. Leaves on one tree can be lobed and unlobed. Though both monoecious (male and female flowers on one plant) and dioecious (male and female flowers on separate plants), many trees are self-pollinating. Trees are also known to change sex. The tree flowers inconspicuously in late spring on the current season’s wood and on spurs of old wood.

Fruits, which ripen in midsummer, are small fleshy drupes, resembling a tightly beaded blackberry. The dark fruit stains badly.

Mulberries prefer a well-drained, fertile soil and tolerate any conditions except wet soils. They withstand drought and salt conditions, making them a good urban or seaside planting. They do best with full sun but tolerate light shade. Because the dark fruits stain badly, avoid planting mulberries near walkways and driveways or where fruit will be tracked into a dwelling. Keep in mind that the branches can be brittle.

Prune trees to establish a healthy branching structure, free of narrow crotches or too many branches close together. Once the structure is established, little pruning is needed. Branches can be kept short to prevent wind or weather damage.

Mulberries seem to have few problems in the North other than winter damage. Young trees can be susceptible to scale or cankers; cankers should be cut off and burned. Older trees are less affected. Fruits can get ‘popcorn’ disease where the berries blow up to look like popped corn. Since the disease perpetuates and overwinters in the fruit, the best prevention is to gather and destroy affected fruits.

Keep the tree watered regularly, especially during dry spells, their root system is fairly shallow for first couple of years. Water well beyond the canopy to keep the roots moist and avoid premature fruit drop. As with other mulberry species, stake young trees to keep them stable until the trunk is strong enough to support the canopy. Black mulberry can grow in highly acidic to highly alkaline soils and will grow in loamy, sandy or clay soils. Choose a planting site that gets full to partial sun. If you live in a windy area, it is better to find a sheltered spot for it. Young trees don’t have strong limbs and could easily be damaged.

To look after your tree, dress with some compost just before it fruits and after it has finished.

Depending on variety, Mulberries do best with 200-300 chill hrs.

There is no point in growing mulberries without using the fruit. And let’s face it, how many mulberry pies, desserts or bottles of jam will you go through before you get to a stage that you don’t even want to look at another mulberry. Well, what about making mulberry wine? It isn’t as difficult as you think, and certainly helps to use up a glut of mulberries in a very pleasant way.

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