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Mulberries are a great choice for growing indoors as they are fast growing, will produce lots of fruit and they really don’t take much effort.
There are lots of varieties of the mulberry tree like the many dwarf varieties or even bonsai varieties that are suited to growing in an apartment or house.
If you keep your tree well pruned you can easily keep it small enough (2-6 feet tall) that it will fit on a windowsill or tabletop and produce plenty of berries, sometimes three times per season.
So, if you want to learn about all aspects of how to grow a mulberry tree indoors this complete guide will help you out so please read on…
To grow a mulberry tree or bush indoors you could start it off in a small 5-gallon container on your windowsill and re-pot it later. Make sure it gets at least 6 hours of light daily. They don’t even need fertilizer but if you apply fertilizer at the recommended dose it should encourage healthy growth.
- What sort of mulberry tree is best for growing indoors?
- Should I grow a mulberry tree from seed, cutting or buy a young tree?
- How to germinate mulberry seeds
- What sort of pot should I use for a mulberry tree?
- What sort of soil should I use for a mulberry tree?
- How much light does a mulberry Tree require?
- How often should I water my mulberry tree?
- What is the best climate for mulberry trees?
- What is the best fertilizer for mulberries in a pot?
- How to prune an indoor mulberry tree in a pot
- How to pollinate a mulberry tree?
- When to pick mulberries from a potted tree
- How to store freshly picked mulberries from the tree
- What to do if your mulberry tree stops producing fruit
- To grow a mulberry tree outdoors
- Common mulberry tree problems and how to solve them
- Mulberry Tree Facts That are Absolutely Compelling to Read
- Interesting Facts about Mulberry Trees
- Dwarf Mulberry Tree Facts: How To Grow A Mulberry Tree In A Pot
- Dwarf Mulberry Tree Facts
- Container Grown Mulberry Trees
- Mulberry Trees: Easy-to-Grow Plants for Container Gardeners
What sort of mulberry tree is best for growing indoors?
Mulberries are an excellent choice for growing indoors as they are fast growing and can easily be pruned to a small bush size and remain healthy and fruit bearing.
When growing a mulberry tree inside it is best to pick one of the many dwarf varieties such as Dwarf everbearing – Morus nigra, Geraldi Dwarf mulberry or ‘Morus issai – Morus Alba pendula, contorted mulberry or the Pakistan mulberry.
There are even bonsai versions of mulberry tree available that can be kept very small and will still produce lots of berries.
Should I grow a mulberry tree from seed, cutting or buy a young tree?
If the whole idea is to produce your own mulberries for eating you might not want to start your tree from seeds as it can take 4 – 10 years for it to become mature enough to bear fruit.
When you take a cutting from a mature mulberry tree then the cutting will be genetically the same age as the parent tree.
Potentially you could have berries growing the first year although it is best to pick any berries that start to grow the first year off as they take energy away from your cutting producing healthy roots, you will definitely be able to harvest berries after the first year.
If you buy a seedling it is the quickest option for getting a harvest as you may get a harvest the same year as you purchase your tree or bush.
How to germinate mulberry seeds
First, you will want to collect seeds from a mulberry. To do this simply squash a mulberry into a bowl of water so that the seeds separate from the pulp of the berry and into the water.
The seeds that will are good for germination will sink to the bottom of the water and the seeds that are no good for germination will float to the top.
Take the good seeds out and place them on a paper towel until they are dry.
Next, put a small amount of sand in a container, enough to cover the seeds and dampen the sand so it is moist but there is no standing water.
Next, place this container in the fridge for 90 days and at the end of this period, the seeds will be ready for planting in a pot.
What sort of pot should I use for a mulberry tree?
You should use a pot for your mulberry tree that as big as possible for the space you have available.
You should have no problems growing a mulberry in a 15-gallon container and if you let it grow up the way without pruning it into a small bush style it should be healthy until it gets to around 6 foot high in a container this size.
If you don’t have much space you could even grow a mulberry bush in a 5-gallon container but you would have to transfer it eventually when it outgrows the container.
If you have more room you could use a bigger container like a 25 gallon one, as the bigger it is the more roots will grow and the healthier and more berries it might produce.
What sort of soil should I use for a mulberry tree?
Mulberry trees are very adaptable and will grow in most soil types, but they do like soil that is rich and fertile so you might want to add some manure or compost to your soil for added benefit.
You should use a rich, loamy potting soil or a peat-based potting mix and they will grow just fine as they are not too fussy.
Whatever soil type you use just make sure there is good drainage in the container and your mulberries should grow with no problems as they are one of the most hassle-free things for growing in a container.
How much light does a mulberry Tree require?
Like most plants, the more direct sunlight your mulberry plant receives the faster it will grow and the more berries it will produce.
Mulberries will do just fine even if you grow them in partial shade as long as they get around 6 hours of light daily. If you have a south-facing window or conservatory your mulberry plant will thrive indoors.
If you don’t think you get enough light to successfully grow mulberries indoors or are serious about producing lots of berries you could always use an LED grow lamp as they are not expensive to buy and are very affordable to run.
Check out my articles on the best Led grow light strips on the market and affordable Led lights that really work.
How often should I water my mulberry tree?
Mulberry trees do like water but how much you water them depends a lot on your local climate.
When you water your mulberries it is best to give them a deep watering, this means you should water them until water starts to come out the drainage holes in the bottom of your pot or container.
I typically water my indoor mulberry tree once or twice per week during the summer months, normally when the top 2 inches of soil has become dry.
A mulberry tree that has its soil kept consistently moist but not soaking will normally produce more berries than if you let it completely dry out then soak it.
What is the best climate for mulberry trees?
Mulberry trees can be found growing in every continent so you will find a variety that is suited to almost every climate on the planet.
The only climate that is bad for mulberries would be frosty cold weather, whilst they are extremely tolerant of cold frosty or freezing weather and are unlikely to die from it, it could affect the number of berries that are produced the following growing season.
Typically Mulberry trees or bushes grown indoors aren’t going to be affected by frost.
Whatever climate you live in you will find a variety of mulberry that will grow healthy and produce lots of berries.
What is the best fertilizer for mulberries in a pot?
Mulberries will normally do fine even with no fertilizer, however, if you use fertilizer it will likely lead to a healthier tree and more fruit production.
If you choose to use fertilizer on your mulberry tree I would recommend you use a liquid seaweed fertilizer or a granular organic fertilizer and only apply it during the growing season.
You should use a diluted liquid fertilizer once per week or apply the granular fertilizer once per month.
Don’t over fertilize your mulberry tree or it will lead to excessive foliage growth but fewer berries being produced.
How to prune an indoor mulberry tree in a pot
Mulberry trees are very fast growers when they get going and will need regular pruning and pinching to keep them at a manageable size.
You should trim back and pinch most of the new growth throughout the year whilst leaving some new growth to keep the tree healthy.
At the end of the fruiting season, I trim off any dead, diseased and crossing branches before the tree goes dormant for the winter months.
How to pollinate a mulberry tree?
Most cultivated mulberry varieties will be bi-sexual, meaning they will produce both male and female flowers.
This means pollination can happen with only one tree, however, you will likely have to give it a helping hand although some varieties will bear fruit without pollination.
To help with the pollination of your mulberry tree you should use a small paint brush.
Brush some of the pollen from the stamen of the male flower and brush it into the female flowers, do this with every flower and this will do the same job bees do in the wild.
When to pick mulberries from a potted tree
It is simple to tell when your mulberries are ready for harvesting as they will taste sweet, juicy and change color.
Red mulberries will turn a dark purple when they are ready for harvest and white mulberries will turn a golden color when they are ready to be harvested.
When your berries turn ripe you should pick them off your tree, it may take 4 weeks for all the mulberries to turn ripe and you should pick them as they do.
How to store freshly picked mulberries from the tree
Mulberries are so tasty I normally don’t get a chance to store them as I eat them off my tree.
If you want to store your harvest make sure you don’t wash them as the moisture will promote fungus growth.
Don’t wash them and put them in a sealable container and keep them in the fridge, only wash them before you eat them.
Mulberries stored in the fridge like this have a short shelf life and will only last for around 3 days.
To extend the life of your mulberries you should freeze them.
To do this first wash them, dry them and spread them out in a single layer on a tray.
Put the tray in the freezer for a few hours and when your mulberries are frozen transfer them into a sealable container.
This stops them freezing together in one big clump. When you freeze your mulberries like this they will be good for up to 6 months.
What to do if your mulberry tree stops producing fruit
There are many factors that could be behind your mulberry tree stopping producing fruits.
The first three things you should check are the basic things, is your mulberry tree getting enough sunlight? If it isn’t getting enough sunlight it might still grow healthy foliage but just not produce berries.
Is your mulberry tree getting enough water? If your mulberry tree is not getting enough or too much water this would result in an unhealthy tree and could result in no berries being produced.
Are you fertilizing your mulberry tree correctly? If you aren’t using fertilizer, are using the wrong fertilizer or even over fertilizing this could result in a healthy looking tree that just isn’t producing berries.
Also if your tree has been in frosty or freezing conditions this could result in no berries the following season.
If your mulberry tree or bush has never produced any berries it may be because it can take up to 10 years to become mature enough for fruit production.
To grow a mulberry tree outdoors
Mulberry trees grow on every continent so you will find a variety that is suited to your local climate.
The root system on a mulberry tree is shallow and will spread far away from the tree so you should avoid planting one near sidewalks, buildings and anything else that could be affected by root growth.
Mulberries like deep well-draining soil and if you are planting outside you should mix compost or manure into the area you will be planting to ensure a healthier tree or bush.
Mulberry trees grown outside really don’t need much care but if you use a fertilizer it will encourage it to grow healthy and produce lots of delicious berries.
Common mulberry tree problems and how to solve them
Mulberry trees are relatively hassle-free and that is why I would recommend them for growing indoors in a pot or container, even beginners should give them a try.
But like all plants, they could be affected by a disease and if not treated quickly and correctly it could result in the death of your beloved mulberry tree.
Here are some diseases that could affect your indoor mulberry tree or bush:
Canker Disease – Canker disease will turn the leaves on your mulberry tree brown or yellow and could result in dead spots on the trunk of your tree which could, in turn, result in the death of your tree. The only defense to this disease is to make sure you consistently care for your tree and keep it healthy throughout the year.
Armillaria Root Rot – This is normally referred to as Texas root rot and most mulberry trees will be affected by this at some point. It will make leaves become discolored and drop off and could result in branches or your entire tree dying. To battle this disease you should prune off any affected areas but most importantly give your mulberry tree proper care to prevent your tree being affected in the first place.
Bacterial Blight – Blight can affect almost any plant you decide to grow and mulberries are no different. It will cause brown or black spots on the leaves and cause growths to appear on the branches and flowers and liquid will appear to ooze out the growths. Like most diseases, you should give your mulberry tree proper care as prevention is always easier than a cure.
Shape and Distribution
Red mulberry is a medium-sized tree, reaching approximately 50, and occasionally, 70 feet in height. The trunk can reach a diameter of up to two feet. The broad, rounded crown consists of many shorter branches, making red mulberry a desirable shade tree. Red mulberry grows in almost every county in Illinois. It occurs chiefly in mesic or moist forests, particularly along streams on well-drained soils.
Red mulberry is the only native mulberry in the eastern deciduous forest. White mulberry, which is also common in Illinois, was introduced from Asia by the British in the 1700s in a failed attempt to establish a silkworm industry. The white mulberry leaves are the natural food of silkworms. The tree naturalized and white mulberry is now widespread throughout the eastern part of the United States.
Red mulberry is sometimes distinguishable from white mulberry by the presence of hairs on the lower surface of the leaves. There is also the possibility of hybridization between the two species, which could make them look similar.
The trunk of red mulberry is relatively short, and the bark is light gray when the tree is young, becoming yellowish brown or slightly orange/gray as the tree ages. It is finely ridged, with long, scaly plates.
The twigs are rough and hairy.
The buds are small-about a quarter of an inch long, brown, and pointed.
The leaves are alternate and simple, and are mostly oval-shaped. They are up to 6 inches long, and nearly as broad. They have toothed edges and vary in appearance from heart-shaped (unlobed) to deeply lobed (usually two or three lobes). The leaves are sandpapery or rough above, and hairy (softer texture) on the underside. The upper surface is dark green and dull, and the lower is usually paler. The leaves turn yellow in the fall.
Male and female flowers can occur together (as separate flowers) on one tree or on different trees, and appear just as the leaves emerge. The male flowers are closely clustered and green, and the female flowers consist of clusters of spikes. Flowers are greenish-yellow.
The fruits consist of clusters of drupelets (tiny fruits, containing one seed, sometimes in clusters, as in a raspberry), which are red when immature and dark purple at maturity. Uses
Red mulberry wood is lightweight and durable. It is used for fence posts and barrels. Songbirds, game birds, small mammals, and people enjoy the dark, juicy red mulberry fruits. Native Americans used red mulberry medicinally to treat dysentery, and as a laxative or purgative.
Mulberry Tree Facts That are Absolutely Compelling to Read
The white mulberry tree was introduced to the American continent by the British colonizers. While that’s a well-known fact, very few people know that the species has been outlawed by some American cities for being a nuisance.
Did You Know?
In 1984, the city administration of Tucson, Arizona, banned the planting of mulberry trees citing that the amount of pollen produced by these trees was harmful for humans.
Mulberries are the deciduous trees native to the warm temperate and subtropical regions of the world. The species, which derives its name from its edible fruit, is found in abundance in several countries of Asia, Europe, Africa, and America. Even though it is virtually grown in every American state―Nevada and Alaska being the only exceptions―many people continue to be unaware of some basic facts about them.
Interesting Facts about Mulberry Trees
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>> Mulberry trees have been known to mankind since a long time. Historical records, for instance, suggest that the leaves of these trees were used by the Romans for the treatment of various diseases of the mouth, trachea, and lungs. Over the course of time, several other medicinal uses of this tree were discovered, but what really propelled this tree to fame was its use in the silk industry.
Silkworm feeding on Mulberry leaves
>> Mulberry leaves are used to feed silkworms (Bombyx mori) in order to enhance silk production; the practice began in China and soon spread to various other countries. The silkworm only feeds on mulberry leaves, and it was precisely because of this reason that the commercial cultivation of mulberry trees―especially the white mulberry―was promoted in various parts of the world.
>> Ancient folklore and myths acknowledge the importance of mulberry trees to various ancient civilizations. According to a German folklore, the roots of mulberry tree are often used by the devil to polish his boots (and therefore, these trees are associated with evil).
>>The term ‘mulberry’ refers to more than a hundred species belonging to genus Monera. The genus happens to be one of the most complex genera of kingdom Plantae, with no consensus on the exact number of species among the botanists themselves. Nevertheless, the widely recognized varieties of the mulberry tree include:
- White Mulberry (Morus alba) native to east Asia
- Red Mulberry (Morus rubra) native to North America
- Black Mulberry (Morus nigra) native to southwest Asia
- Texas Mulberry (Morus microphylla) native to the United States and Mexico
- Chinese Mulberry (Morus australis) native to the Southeast Asia
- African Mulberry (Morus mesozygia) native to south and central Africa
White Mulberry native to China was introduced to North America to promote silk industry.
>> The white mulberry tree, native to China, was introduced to the continent of North America during the colonial period to promote the silk industry. The variety was eventually hybridized with the locally available red mulberry (a.k.a. the American mulberry) variety.
>> Almost all the mulberry tree varieties grow very fast when they are young but eventually, slow down. The average height of mulberry trees usually depends on which variety you are taking into consideration. The red mulberry, for instance, can grow to a height of 65 feet, while the Asian white mulberry attains a maximum height of 40 feet.
>> Mulberries are not just known to be delicious, but are also known to be highly nutritional. These berries are packed with vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, and B-complex vitamins. At the same time, they are also known for their vitamin A, vitamin E, potassium, and magnesium content.
White and Red Mulberry are the two most famous popular mulberry varieties.
>> Incidentally, the native red mulberry (reddish-brown bark) and the Asian white mulberry (ochre-gray bark) are the two most popular mulberry tree varieties. The bark of both the species has a rough surface with vertical cracks and oval-shaped alternate leaves, which are approximately 2-6 inches long.
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>> Mulberry trees have a lengthy growing season, which in turn, ensures abundant crop. Having said that, if you are planning to grow mulberry trees for their fruits, you will have to be patient as it will take at least 10 years for the trees to start bearing fruits.
Mulberries are enjoyed by both humans and birds alike and are used in various preparations.
>> Mulberries are inch-long berry-like fruits, which are white to green or pale yellow in color when they are raw and turn to red, dark purple, or black when they ripen. These fruits, which are known for their sweet flavor, are delicacies among humans and birds alike and are also used in various preparations.
>> Mulberry trees grow well in warm, well-drained, loamy soil. In the United States, the USDA plant hardiness zones 5-8 serve as an ideal habitat for the species. These trees require ample space and a lot of sunlight to grow, and hence, it is wise to plant them at least 15-20 feet apart.
>> Like other deciduous species, even the mulberries require regular pruning. Though the best time to prune the species is just after the growing season, you can also prune it in winter; that’s if you think the foliage has thickened and may damage the tree.
The color of a mulberry changes as it matures from red to deep purpulish-red.
While definitely helpful, mulberry trees are notorious for their pollen production, which can well exceed the admissible count of 1500 in the spring season. It was precisely for this reason that the city administration of Tucson, Arizona, banned it in 1984. The city of Las Vegas, Nevada, followed suit citing the same reason in 1991, and El Paso, Texas, followed a year later in 1992. While some of these cities are contemplating doing away with this ban, that is bound to take some time as the risk involved in pretty high.
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Mulberry Family (Moraceae)
mulberry, Russian mulberry, silkworm mulberry.
Origin and Distribution:
White mulberry is native to China and has long been cultivated in Europe. The British introduced it to North America prior to the American Revolution in a failed attempt to establish a silkworm industry, since the leaves are the primary food of silkworm caterpillars. Several varieties of this species have been widely planted in North America and have become naturalized. White mulberry is common in the eastern U.S., and is found in over three-fourths of the counties of Ohio, mostly along fencerows of unattended areas and in other open rural and urban habitats. It is not tolerant of shade and rarely grows in forested sites. But it is relatively tolerant of drought, salt, pollution and poor soils. This species is increasingly found in no-till corn or soybean fields where it may interfere with harvest.
White mulberry is a small- to medium-sized, fast-growing, deciduous tree with a short, thick trunk that branches into numerous limbs to form a bushy, spreading crown. Several varieties exist, and they may have erect or weeping branches. This species is characterized by its furrowed orangish-brown bark, slender light orange twigs, shiny variously-lobed leaves and white to pink to purple berry-like fruit. In field crops, young trees are cut off annually by harvesting equipment and sprout new branches each spring, resulting in a highly branched shrub with a large trunk close to the ground. Twigs and leaves exude a milky juice (latex). The wood is light, soft and coarse-grained. White mulberry reproduces by seeds.
White mulberry produces wide-spreading, aggressive roots that are known to clog drains.
The trunk is short, thick (8 to 16 inches in diameter, sometimes up to 5 feet) and multi-branched, resulting in a full, spreading crown. Central stems can grow 20 to 50 feet tall (sometimes up to 80 feet), but as a weed of roadsides and crop fields, it seldom grows over 15 feet tall. The bark is gray at first, turning an orangish- or yellowish-brown, with shallow furrows or ridges and an orange inner layer that is visible through the furrows. Secondary branches are generally slender and, depending on the variety, may be upright or hang casually toward the ground. Twigs are slender, erect and initially slightly hairy and reddish-brown, becoming smooth and light orange. Several shoots are produced from one node, giving the crown a branchy appearance.
The thin, bright, light green leaves are alternate, broadly oval and 2 to 4 inches long, with toothed margins (triangular teeth). The upper surface is smooth and shiny. The lower leaf surface is pale green and generally smooth, with hairs only along the main veins. Leaves can be unlobed (common on older trees) or have 2 to 5 unequal lobes (common on young trees and sprouts from older trees). The petiole (leaf stalk) is smooth.
Clusters of small petalless flowers are borne in a dense hanging spike. Male and female flowers are usually produced on separate plants (dioecious), but sometimes are produced on the same plant (monoecious). The male flower cluster is narrow and somewhat elongated and the female flower cluster is more oval.
Fruits and Seeds:
The berry-like fruit is a tight, elongated cluster of white to pink (sometimes violet) smaller fruits. There are several horticultural varieties, some with dark fruit.
Red mulberry (Morus rubra) is a larger native version of its cousin, growing to heights of 50 to 70 feet with trunk diameters of 2 to 3 feet. It produces a light soft wood and rough brown bark. The red mulberry is indigenous to the eastern United States, and grows best in rich, river bottom woods and floodplains. Red mulberry is distinguished from white mulberry by the following: its leaves are larger, thicker, less shiny and have a downy lower surface; the bark and twigs are less orange or yellow; the fruits are longer and red to blackish but never white or pink; and it occurs in more natural, shaded habitats such as floodplain forests.
White mulberry flowers from April to June. Flowers are wind-pollinated. The fruits are very attractive to birds and mammals, which are probably responsible for its spread along fencerows and in fields. The plant has strong rooting ability and cut stems buried in soil are able to regenerate.
White mulberry is a fast-growing, short-lived plant that is becoming a problem in no-till fields. Once established, the roots will continue to produce sprouts even if the plant is cut back every year. White mulberry hybridizes with other Morus species through cross-pollination. This has raised concerns for the native red mulberry, because ‘genetic swamping’ could eliminate the native species.
All parts of white mulberry, except for the ripe fruit, contain a milky sap (latex) that is toxic to humans. Although humans may consume ripe mulberry fruit, ingestion of unripe fruit can result in stomach upset, stimulation of the nervous system and hallucinations. The sap is also an irritant, and contact with leaves and stems may result in varying degrees of skin irritation. White mulberry pollen is highly allergenic and contributes to hayfever.
Facts and Folklore:
The genus name, Morus, is Latin for ‘delay’, referring to the formation of winter buds late in the season after the weather has turned cold. The species name, alba, means ‘white’, referring to the whitish color of the buds.
The silkworm is thought to prefer mulberries over all other plants due to a unique fragrance given off by the mulberry and to special organs in the caterpillar that respond to the taste of mulberry leaves. Silk proteins (fibroin and sericin) are derived only from mulberry leaves.
White mulberry fruits vary greatly in sweetness, some being very sweet and others dry and tasteless. They lack the tartness of other mulberry species.
Dwarf Mulberry Tree Facts: How To Grow A Mulberry Tree In A Pot
The mulberry bush is not just a folkloric song lyric. You won’t find these sweet, tangy berries in the supermarket due to their short shelf life, but they are easy to grow, abundant, and fast growing, which makes them perfect for containers. If you’re interested in growing mulberries in containers, keep reading to find out how to grow a mulberry tree in a pot and other dwarf mulberry tree facts.
Dwarf Mulberry Tree Facts
Mulberries are suited to USDA zones 5-10. In the ground, mulberries grow into a large bush, but a container grown mulberry tree’s size can be kept smaller (2-6 feet tall) by pruning just after fruiting. Pruning a mulberry also encourages the plant to produce berries again, resulting in several crops throughout the growing season.
Mulberries may be female, male or bisexual. If you are growing from seed, you are more likely to get either a male or female. Commercially sold mulberries are bisexual or self-pollinating. The plant blooms in the early spring and is quickly followed by a dense crop of large juicy berries, about the size of a big blackberry. This berry is so prolific; it even yields well in its first year and may produce several crops.
The children’s song ‘Pop goes the weasel’ isn’t the mulberry’s only claim to fame. Mulberry foliage is the silkworm’s favorite food and has been cultivated for centuries specifically for this purpose. The practice of breeding silkworms for their raw silk production is called ‘sericulture’ and has been around for over 5,000 years in China.
Mulberry trees also have long pliable branches perfect for weaving into baskets, fences, and screens. All these interesting uses aside, the number one reason for growing a mulberry is for its fruit. The luscious berries can be eaten fresh, dried, frozen or made into pies, jams, and frozen desserts. They can also be turned into wine or the juice can be used as a dye.
Intrigued? So, how do you grow a mulberry tree in a pot and is there any special care needed of mulberries in pots?
Container Grown Mulberry Trees
There isn’t much in the way of special care for mulberries in pots. They are extremely forgiving plants. Full sun exposure will make your mulberry happiest. Interestingly, the tree will do quite well with wet roots, but it can also be drought tolerant once established. They are also frost tolerant, although it is best to mulch around the plants to protect the roots from freezing and thawing.
Mulberries are tolerant of a variety of soils but when potting them, it’s best to use a good quality potting medium amended with some nutrient rich compost. Feed the tree at regular intervals during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer, liquid seaweed or water with compost tea. Allow the surface of the soil to dry between waterings and then saturate the soil.
You can prune ever-bearing varieties at any time to retard their growth. Otherwise, cut back leggy plants in the late winter or early spring. Berries are formed on new growth.
Mulberries have little to no issue with foliage or root diseases. They are, however, susceptible to spider mites, whiteflies and mealybugs, but these are usually fairly easy to manage.
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.