Mulberries are one of the best fruits you can eat, but you will never find them in the grocery store, so how can you get your hands on some? If you don’t have a generous neighbor, your best bet is to grow your own!
But how do you grow them? Where is the best place to put them? What is the best variety? Stick around and I’ll tell you all about how to grow a mulberry tree of your very own.
What Is A Mulberry Tree?
Mulberry trees are fruit trees that, once established, will produce bucketsful of fruit. They are a low-maintenance and easy-to-grow tree, that makes a wonderful backyard shade tree.
The fruit has the flavor somewhat similar to raspberries, but a little sweeter, that can be cooked and used so many ways, but they are best eaten straight off the tree by the handfuls.
Its fruit is also greatly appreciated by your ducks and chickens as well as wildlife.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure if you have questions.
Thank you for supporting this site with purchases made through links in this post. For Starters Here’s My Amazon Link
Why Don’t You Find Mulberries In The Grocery Store?
The first time you pick a mulberry off the tree, you will understand why you don’t find them in the grocery store. Just touching them makes some of the juice pockets burst and drip out their wonderful juice. you cannot pick them without getting the red juice all over your fingers and clothing and anything else it gets on. And it will stain.
Because of this, they have a very short shelf life which makes it impossible to ship them. The best way to use mulberries is to leave them on the tree until you are ready to eat them or cook with them.
So, if you want to experience this wonderful fruit for yourself, you are going to have to grow your own tree.
Varieties Of Mulberry Trees And Where To Grow Them.
Mulberries are members of the Moraceae family, which includes the fig, breadfruit, and sassafras trees.
There are several types of mulberry trees. Two that are native to the US are the red mulberry (morus rubra) zone 5-10 and the Texas mulberry (morus microphylla) zone 5-9. which is really more of a bush and prefers the dryer climate of the southwest.
There is also the Black mulberry (morus nigra) zone 5-9. The Everbearing mulberry (morus nigra) is a dwarf variety zone 5-10. Himalayan Mulberry (morus macroura) zone 6-10.
The Pakistan mulberry (morus macroura) zone 6-10, is known for its extra long and sweet fruit.
And one, the white mulberry (morus alba) zone 4-8, was imported from China in hopes of starting the silk trade on this side of the pond. But the silk production never took off. The white mulberry is classified as an invasive plant in some states.
The white variety gets its name from the color of its flowers. Since it can cross with other varieties, its fruit can be pink, purple, black, or white.
Where Do Mulberry Trees Grow?
You can find a mulberry variety that will grow on every continent except Antarctica. There is hardly a place, zone 4 or higher, that you can’t find one that will grow.
How Large Are Mulberry Trees?
Is the mulberry a bush or a tree?
Both actually, depending on the variety. Some get very tall and some can be trained into a bush or hedge.
Mulberries are deciduous (loses their leaves in the winter) and many can live 100 years or more.
With optimal growing conditions a full-grown red mulberry can reach a mature height of up to 60’.
The White and Black will reach at least 40’ and the Texas and everbearing will reach 6’-20’
You will see varying heights listed all over the internet, but that is because there are so many varieties, hybrids and growing conditions, but these heights will give you a good approximation for choosing the tree that is right for you and your location.
How To Keep A Mulberry Tree Small.
You can with diligent pruning keep the height under control, and this will make your fruit more accessible.
You can heavily prune this tree after fruiting without hurting your tree. But the smaller your tree is, the less fruit it will produce, and there is something to be said for having enough to share with the squirrels and birds.
Growing A Mulberry Tree In A Container.
Container growing is an option but often doesn’t ensure a good outcome. There are a couple of container-friendly varieties. The Everbearing Black Mulberry and Mulberry Issai. You can, however, try any cultivar and keep the height under control by constant pruning, but you will be drastically limiting your fruit production.
Also, make sure you use a well-draining soil mix in your pot so the roots don’t rot.
Related>>How To Start Container Gardening Like A Pro.
Where To Plant Your Mulberry.
There are a few things to consider when deciding where to put your mulberry tree. First, the mulberry is a fast-growing tree, and since most are very large, and it gets about as wide as it does tall. This tree needs a large patch of lawn.
Make sure you don’t plant it too close to your house or driveway as it does have a large root system too. Don’t plant it near your septic or sewer lines or under electric lines.
Another consideration is not to plant it near sidewalks or patios as the berries drop and leave red/purple stains that can be tracked into your house.
During fruiting season, It will attract wildlife as the berries drop or even before they drop. I look out and see my tree shimmy and shake as the squirrels and birds jump from limb to limb.
But if you have the space, it is a great tree to plant. It makes a wonderful shade tree with its large leaves. And the wonderful fruit really outshines all the negatives of the mess.
How Fast Do Mulberry Trees Grow?
Mulberry trees are among the fastest growing trees. Once they establish their roots in the first year, they take off and can reach 10 -12 feet tall in as little as 6 years!
How Long Does It Take For Mulberry Trees To Produce Fruit?
Unlike some fruit trees, it will produce fruit when it is very young, some even put out a few berries the second year, and it will continue to increase yields for many years.
Mulberry Fruit Season.
Mulberries produce their first flowers even before they put out their new leaves in the spring. The flowers look like green caterpillars. They continue to put out leaves and more flowers for 6-8 weeks.
Here in Florida, with the “Tice” variety, we also get a second smaller crop in the fall.
The flowers are pollinated by wind and the flowers start to plump up and change from green to white to red to very dark almost black, with a blood red juice.
A mature tree can produce up to 10 bushels of fruit.
The fruit ripens over an extended period of time so you can enjoy these for quite a while as opposed to having to pick them all at once and having to figure out what to do with them. This is such a wonderful problem to have as these are my absolute favorite fruit to eat.
How To Harvest.
Mulberries will often drop from the tree when ripe. You can place sheets or tarps under a tree and shake the limbs to harvest large quantities of the berries or hand-pick mulberries once they turn the mature color for that variety.
Make sure you are ready to use or process them right away, as they just don’t keep!
How To Grow A Mulberry Tree.
Mulberries are one of the easiest trees to grow. They prefer full sun for maximum fruit production but will grow well in partial shade and does well in most soil types.
They thrive where other trees will struggle. It can handle hot or dry summers and even can take salty ocean spray. The one thing it doesn’t like is standing water, so make sure the spot you choose is well-drained.
As with most plants, a nice layer of mulch over the root zone will enrich the soil and keep the soil more evenly moist. It will also cut down on weed competition.
When To Plant Mulberry Trees.
While there’s no particular season that is considered perfect to plant the mulberry tree, it’s usually best to do so when the temperatures are not extreme. Planting in spring or fall is the most common, with summer plantings optional in areas with mild summer temperatures.
These trees can be started from cuttings, nursery-grown container plants, air layering, or even seeds. (seeds being the trickiest)
Of course, if you get one from a nursery, you will know the variety and it can be planted as you would any other tree. Just make sure it is a place that will not have standing water, and wait for all frosts to be finished for the season.
How To Grow A Mulberry Tree From Cuttings.
If you know someone who has a fruiting variety of mulberry, you can ask them for fresh cuttings. Most people who have a tree are more than happy to share.
They grow quite well from cuttings. This is an excellent project during normal pruning time.
Cut a fresh twig, 8 to 12 inches are the best size. Remove all but one leaf, dip it in rooting hormone, and put it in fresh, damp potting soil. Bury it at least 4 inches deep, but not more than half way up the branch.
Place it in dappled shade and keep it moist (not wet) for a couple of months and when new leaves start to come out, you know the roots are growing too. Harden it off for about a week and then it will be ready to be planted in its permanent home.
Related>> 12 Important Steps To Hardening Off Seedlings.
Can You Grow Mulberries From Seed?
I’ve been asked, Can I grow a mulberry tree from a berry?
Though it is one way to grow a mulberry tree, it is not, in my opinion, the best way.
Here are a few reasons why and how to do it if you want to give it a try.
- Mulberry trees may produce only male or female flowers on one plant, or both flower types may be present on one tree. And it can take many years for you to know which kind of tree it is. If you have a male-only tree, it will never produce fruit or seeds. If you have a female only, it will produce fruit, but no seeds, without a male nearby, so you can’t start trees from this type of fruit.
- The germination success rate is low for mulberry trees, so start a lot of them. You will also want to store the seeds in the refrigerator for at least 60 to 100 days to stratify them. Before putting them in potting soil, soak them for 24 hours to get them started.
- A mulberry started from seed, will not produce fruit for a long time. Often up to 10 years.
How To Get More Fruit From My Mulberry Tree.
With a little care your tree, it will soon be putting out more berries than you can eat.
Making sure it gets enough water through the blossom and fruiting season is important too.
If your mulberry won’t produce fruit after a few years, it could be a male.
How To Care For A Mulberry Tree.
Mulberry trees are hardy, low-maintenance plants. However, they still can use some care to grow strong and produce abundant fruit.
- Light – Full sun equals more fruit.
- Soil -Widely adaptable as long as it is well drained.
- Water – The first year it should be watered deeply once a week to help it establish deep roots. Once established a mulberry is very drought resistant though lack of water will cause fruit to drop.
- Fertilizer – Though not absolutely necessary, a good fertilizer (1 cup for every 1 inch of the trunk’s diameter) 1 to 3 times a year, depending on how poor your soil is, will increase the fruit yield. A 5-8-5 is recommended as the extra potassium will increase blossoming. Compost and worm castings can be a tremendous addition as well.
- Pruning Your Mulberry Tree – Although pruning is not necessary. It is helpful to limit its size. If you do prune, it’s best to prune when the tree is dormant. But remember, heavy pruning will reduce the fruit that year. As fruit buds are on last year’s limbs. The mulberry’s sap can irritate some peoples’ skin, so be sure to wear gloves and long sleeves for protection while working on this tree.
- Pests – You will have to share your mulberries. This fruit is a favorite of squirrels and birds. In some areas scale is reported to be a small problem.
You can use the mulberry as a decoy crop to keep birds off your cherry trees or blueberries as they love mulberries even more. The only other pest I have had with this tree is in the late summer the caterpillars will eat the leaves. It happens just before the natural leaf drop and never affects the spring crop. Few diseases afflict the mulberry. Here in ‘fungus and disease land’ my mulberry grows like a weed.
Other Uses For Mulberries.
If you are looking for a way to reduce your feed costs, look no further than the humble mulberry tree. Chickens and Ducks Love Mulberries.
Mulberries are a favorite food of chickens and ducks. This would be a great tree to plant in a poultry garden or over a poultry run, as they can eat the fruit as it drops. This can provide both food and shade.
The leaves are also good to feed to poultry and also for goats. Such a big tree has leaves to spare. And the prunings make good fodder. In fact, the leaves have a protein content of about 20% of dry matter
Mulberry Wood Is Useful Too.
The wood is soft as all fast-growing trees are. But it is still a good wood to use as fence posts because they do not rot quickly in the ground. You can also inoculate them to grow mushrooms.
Related>> Grow Mushrooms In Your Own Backyard.
Are Mulberries Good For You?
Mulberries are considered a Superfood because they are a nutritional powerhouse.
Mulberries are higher in antioxidants than blueberries. They contain a good amount of Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Iron, Fiber, Riboflavin, Magnesium & Potassium.
A cup of fresh mulberries contains only 60 calories, making it the perfect fruit for snacking.
According to “15 Top Health Benefits of Mulberries” on www.hubpages.com, and “Are White Mulberries Good To Eat…” on medicinenet.com, mulberry leaf tea can lower cholesterol and reduce inflammation. Mulberries are rich in resveratrol and choline, which helps fight cancer, diabetes, and are a brain tonic.
If you don’t have your tree yet you can get your mulberry tea here.
Eating, Using, And Storing.
Mulberries do not keep well, so plan to eat, preserve, or cook with them right away.
Pick them when ripe as they do not ripen off from the tree.
When you pick them there is a little green stem attached. It is very soft but does not come off from the fruit. You can put the fruit in your mouth and bite it off. But most people just eat it stem and all. It is very good that way, and hey, who can’t use a little extra fiber?
Unwashed berries will keep 2-3 days in the refrigerator, maximum. If you wish to save up enough to make something with them, you can put them into a zippered plastic bag until you have the amount you need for your recipe. What recipes you ask?
Cake or Muffins – Put a generous layer of mulberries in the bottom of your cake pan and pour your mixed cake batter or muffin batter over it. Bake as usual. It will take a little longer due to the extra liquid. This is an invention of my Sister Donna and is really a treat.
Syrup – Add a little water in a saucepan with the mulberries, and heat until the juice cooks out of them. Pour and mash through a strainer to remove the stems. Then mix with an equal amount of maple syrup. Cook down to desired consistency.
Use warm, store in the refrigerator, or can it for future use. This is wonderful poured on pancakes or cooked on salmon. Maybe add it to a glass of iced tea. Let your imagination go wild with this one.
More – Add them to a fruit salad, top ice cream, make wine, jams, pies, sorbet, smoothies, or my personal favorite, just eat them straight off the tree!
Drying – A wonderful way to preserve them for future use is to dehydrate them. Dried mulberries are a delicious snack, and they keep very well in sealed containers. Using an electric dehydrator works better than sun drying, as mulberries are very juicy. But, make sure they are completely dry before storing or they will mold.
Related>>8 Easy Ways To Preserve Your Harvest.
Now It’s Time To Plant Your Own And Enjoy!
More Posts You Will Enjoy:
How To Grow Starfruit, Carambola.
Happy Backyard Homesteading!
I believe everyone can grow at least part of their own food! Let me show you how.
Check out the newsletter for more helpful information and free stuff.
39 thoughts on “How To Grow A Mulberry Tree”
Growing up in California farm country in the 1960s, i enjoyed the fruit from a huge mulberry tree on the place. I have fond memories of my grandmother and her sister picking mulberries. They always wore flower print cotton dresses, and big flowery aprons like a pinafore. They covered their heads with a flour sak dishtowel turned turban and tied plastic bags over their shoes. They plucked the berries with purple stained cotton gloved hands, dropping them one by one into a tomato juice can tied around the neck with twine. I let my bare feet be coated purple, and purple splotches colored my pale blonde hair before anyone else was doing that. Those berries were so good!
What beautiful memories! I remember my sister climbing the mulberry tree, one place we lived. I was too small. But every house I live in I plant one.
Love this. Question…. Is there a way to hard prune a young mulberry so it don’t get so tall. I have seen this done to fruit trees. Thank you
This is a great way to limit the size of fruit trees so you can reach the fruit. You do have to keep after it though as mulberries grow fast.
Do whipping mulberry trees have fruit?
That is a variety I am not personally familiar with. It appears that there are fruited and non-fruited types. I would only plant mulberries that fruit as that is what I love.
wiki has some info on mulberry plants and gardenerdy.com has a listing of six more common varieties including M. nigra (black), M. Chinese (australis) and M. African (mesozgia).
Thanks for the info.
I grew up in Chicago, Illinois. The third house over from us was an older Polish couple and their bachelor son. They had the next two lots too and had a huge garden. They raised rabbits and butchered them for the meat. They also had a walkway to the back of the lot with an arbor covered with some kind of fruiting vine. (I don’t think it was grapes, but not sure what.) Anyway, next to their front walkway to the house they had a smaller tree that would get these long, black berries. They were soooo good! If they saw us picking them they would come out and gently scold us (in Polish) to leave them be. We always seemed to get a handful, but never enough. I have often wondered if they let us get a few before encouraging us to move on. Left home before I figured out they were mulberries.
Great story. Thanks for sharing.
I have learned so much reading all the comments. Back in 1994 My family rented a property in Lakeland, FL. and it had a tree in the back yard. Come to know now by the pictures that I see that it was a Mulberry fruit tree. All this time I thought they were blackberries! 😉 My son was about 13 at that time and suffered from ADHD, During harvest he would come home from school and clime the tree and eat so many of them that he had no space for food at dinner time. That was like a therapy for him,
After we moved I tried asking people were I could find a blackberry tree and no one knew how to help me because they would say blackberries don’t grow on trees. Thanks for teaching me the difference. Now it will be much easier for me to find a mulberry tree to plant. If someone knows where I can buy seeds please let me know. Thank you
They do look a lot alike. (Don’t taste alike though 😉 I’ve never seen them grow by seeds. I’d look for a plant online or at a nursery. Since there are many different kinds, a nursery would be your best bet so you get one that does well in your area. Good luck.
Hello…first i didnt know that is mulberry bec. my freind gave it to me 10yrs ago she said it was a tahibbo tree and she said that the leaves is a herbal but now i notice that it gives fruits first i guest it was a blackberry but when i goggle it was s mulbery.amazing i didnt known a have a mulberry in my ground..can i ask if its true that the mulberry leaves is also a herbal?
I looked up the tahibbo tree and it is a South American tree that is medicinal. It is not the same as the mulberry tree.
When growing up in the 60s we had a mulberry tree in our yard, mother hated it because by mid summer we had stained a good potion of our clothes and hands and feet. Yhe berries were too good to not tempt fate for. This does bring me too a point though. Have you ever used them to dye material? Depending on the amount of berries and how long you can get a beautiful violet too a dark purple. Yes I was one of those kids.
No, I’ve never used it to die fabric. But I bet it would do great. It dies my hands very well. 🙂
We had 3 mulberry trees at my mothers house growing up, 1 was about 8″ thick in the 1940’s, but when we moved there in in 1974 it was about 5 ft thick at the base and about 70-80ft tall that you could see from the freeway coming down into the valley where I grew up, the freeway was about 7 miles away where it dropped into the valley, #2 was about a quarter the size of #1 but was situated towards the back of the property and had a chicken coop built under it both fruited but #2 fruited more than #1, #3 was a transplant from the back yard to in front of the house by the driveway and was a very prodigious producer, the corner of the driveway was always purple, I think from your description of the Texas mulberry that is what we had up front, never tried canning any but we sure enjoyed eating the fruit.
What a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing. Mulberry trees can add so much to our lives. My sister used to climb up the one by our house and eat them until she was stuffed to the gills.
Have you ever tried to harvest mulberries that fall by stretching netting under the branches?
No, I haven’t. That sounds like a great idea. But I think I would just be helping my squirrels out. 🙂
Pakistani Mulberry are amazing, so huge and delicious!
My favorite fruit!
Could you ship me a sprout
I’m sorry, my Mulberry has never made sprout. I always buy my seedlings from Echo Farms https://www.echonet.org/echos-nursery-bookstore/
They have always had high quality plants. Have a great day.
I just brought a mulberry tree and two almond trees mulberry has fruit already and almond trees in blossom such a pretty tree so excited I live in Cape Town sa
Wonderful! My mulberry tree is my favorite plant. My granddaughter (age 2) points to it every time we walk by, and says “berries?” I think she likes them as much as I do.
We make Mulberry/Rhubarb pie. It’s to die for! The other day we sprinkled some on pancakes as they were cooking on the griddle.
Oh! That sounds divine! I wish I was able to grow Rhubarb (too far south). That combination would be wonderful together!
My mother would make mulberry/strawberry jam. I haven’t had anything like it since.
OH! That sounds AMAZING! (wiping drool from my chin) Two of my favorite things combined. Got to try it! Thanks for the inspiration.
I just planted two of them. Mostly for the benefit of my chickens. But I hope to get some too.
With my squirrels, it is a challenge to get any.:) But mulberries sure are good. First thing I planted when I moved.
Now i want some fresh cold mulberries.
Mulberries are so good! When we moved a few years ago, One of the first things I did was to plant a mulberry tree. It’s a must in my yard.
Great post. Have two on order for the chickens on pasture. Read in DVD by Mark Shepard about sustainable agroforestry that he grows them in his hedgerows for his pigs and poultry. He lives in SW Wisconsin, gets to 50 below occas., so some varieties are hardy to Z3 or 4.
Excellent info. The mulberry seems to be one of the most versatile and useful trees out there. I LOVE mine.
Wow, I’ve never had a mulberry before. Makes me want to plant one but the only open space for such a large tree gets flooded most years.
Thanx for tempting my taste buds.
Oh, If you can find the space, they are well worth it!
May be a raised big container, in the flooded area, to create a raised bed, would allow you to enjoy a mulberry tree like the smaller types. Also check for tolerance to wet roots in the various types of mulberries available, but a raised bed would still be needed, unless the flooding always goes away quickly. Good luck.