Love fresh mulberries but don’t always find them? Try planting a mulberry tree in your garden or planter. The trees have shrub-like forms that are perfect as natural shades. Meanwhile, the small fruits are peeking from between the wide leaves, creating beautiful visual. Planting your own mulberry tree is easy once you know the trick.
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Characteristics of Mulberry Tree
The mulberry tree is a fast-growing plant with low maintenance that used to be popular in rural areas. Rural communities now regard this plant with caution, because its fast growth can result in invasions. However, urban gardeners have found a new appreciation for this mulberry, due to its beauty and hardiness.
The main reason to plant mulberry is to harvest the fruits. However, there are species of fruitless mulberry that have more decorative quality. Mulberry trees attract birds, so you must think about how to protect them, unless if you really want to invite birds to your garden.
Mulberry trees need constant control measure, because they can easily become invasive. However, if you live in a windy area, the trees are perfect to provide windbreaker. You can protect the other plants in the garden by having mulberry trees on the borders.
Types of Mulberry Plants
Mulberries have several varieties that are grouped based on their fruits’ colors (except for the fruitless variants). There are three types of mulberry plants based on colors, which are:
Red mulberry is the most common type. It hails from North America and has the hardiest quality. Red mulberry also has pretty fruits, but it can only grow on fertile and moist soil (preferably near a river, stream, or other water sources).
Black mulberry hails from West Asia region and has fruits with the richest flavor compared to other mulberry types. Also known as Persian mulberry, the fruits are used to make wine, jam, and various desserts. Since it originates from the Middle-east, the tree loves warm temperature.
White mulberry has subtler fruits compared to the red and black ones. The trees also have a shorter lifespan compared to the other types. However, white mulberry is important because of its use in silk farming. The Chinese first farmed this tree to provide foods for silkworms.
There are also fruitless mulberry trees, which are often used as landscape trees. These trees are hardy, tolerating various soil types, and will not create a mess with falling fruits. They even tolerate short term of drought.
Requirements to Grow Mulberry Tree
Most home gardeners don’t grow mulberries from mulberry seeds, because the process is too difficult. Planting mulberries from semi-ripe cuttings is easier, and you don’t need to wait long for fruits. Mulberry trees need several common requirements to grow healthily, which are:
Mulberries may tolerate various soil conditions, but it loves loamy, well-drained, and slightly acidic to neutral soil. You can add compost layer before planting the mulberry.
Mulberry trees love full sun, and they need to get at least four to six hours of sun every day (especially for black mulberries).
Most mulberry trees grow as clusters, so you need to create enough space between each tree. Ideally, each tree must have 25 to 30 feet of space around them.
When you grow mulberries from cuttings, make sure to mulch them, especially during winter. The mulch must be at least two feet high. Mulching prevents weeds from growing wild around the trees.
Pinching should be done near the first fruit season after planting. This will encourage mulberry trees to produce more robust fruits (unless you plant fruitless varieties).
Adult trees don’t need much fertilizer, because mulberries are hardy. However, you need to water the cutting once a week during its first year.
Tips to Grow Mulberry Trees Properly
Mulberry trees have slightly brittle parts, so they are not ideal for walkways or pathways. The fallen fruits will also stain your garden if you don’t calculate the growing locations. If you plant large trees, pick locations such as near the forest edge or the side of a lawn. If you have a chicken farm or fish pond, you can plant mulberries near their roaming areas, so the animals can eat the fallen fruits.
Do you have lower fruit trees you want to protect? Plant mulberry trees as the “cover up” for these lower plants. This way, birds will eat the mulberry fruits, and leave the actual fruit trees you want to protect. For dwarf mulberry trees, you can plant them with companion flowers, such as rudbeckia and cornflowers.
Prune the trees after the fruit season ends (or during winter). Pruning helps in controlling the growth and increasing the fruit harvest. Remove all the dead and yellow leaves, and damaged or crossed branches.
How to Use Mulberry Fruits
Having your own mulberry fruits is fun, especially since these fruits only last shortly at stores or markets. Mulberry fruit, especially the black variety, is slightly sweeter than other berry types. The fruits ripen for two to four weeks during summer, giving you much opportunity for harvesting. You can place paper or cloth around the tree and shake it until the fruits fall off (perfect if handpicking is too tiring).
You can use mulberries for various recipes like other fresh fruits. They are great as jams, pie filing, cake and cookie ingredients, syrup, and jellies. You can also enjoy mulberry in their fresh forms. Wash them properly before eating them with pancake, waffle, or oatmeal.
Mulberry is also great to make infused water. Wash the fruits properly and place them in a or jar with lemon wedges, cut strawberries, and mint leaves. Pour water and keep it in the fridge for eight hours. Finish the fresh water as soon as possible.
Mulberry trees are not useful for their fruits. They have a rustic green look that is perfect for cottage or wild garden. While they can be invasive, you can easily control them with pruning. Planting mulberries don’t need a lot of requirements, although home gardeners should start from cuttings or young trees because seed planting is difficult. Regardless, mulberry tree is a great choice to create rural, rustic beauty at home.