Persian Mulberry/Morus Nigra in Zone 7

persianmd2orchardJanuary 5, 2012

Hi everyone, I know Morus Nigra is not recommended for Zone 7 (I'm in the DC metropolitan area), but I was wondering if the only barrier here are the cold winters killing the tree?

I wonder if I keep it pruned to 10-15 feet tall, plant it in a protected area, and cover it with a huge frost blanket during winter if it would be worth a try?

I don't think humidity or a short ripening season in my climate is going to be a barrier-- seems it's just more about our frosty weather.

Seems like East Coasters are always interested in getting one but opt out. Has anyone had any success protecting Morus Nigra in Zone 7 or have advice?

Thanks a lot

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armyofda12mnkeys(7a, Philly, PA)

My parents are from Iran and I bought some things they would enjoy Persian Mulberry and Salevatski Pomegranate and Azgil(Persian Medlar) and Quince to try out...
The mulberry was to test out since pretty sure most said humidity problems would give it trouble. Think I read it is hardy till 10F so I don't 'think' that would be the main issue, at least in my area (Philadelphia, PA). We do get humid weather in summer. I think Burnt Ridge Nursery says in their description of Black Beauty (another Morus Nigra), that it has trouble with humidity.

I bought a Persian Mulberry 'bush form' thats grafted low, so you can pick the fruit easier and keep at managable height.
It broke dormancy May10th this year with 90% of its buds intact which was encouraging at the time.
(I also trying "Cooke's Pakistan" and 99% of its buds rotted off in the cold/wet spring).
However the Persian went dormant much earlier, like September it looked weak and some leaves were slightly yellow and spotted brown even in August, with while Pakistan vivid Green Leaves all summer and still hanging on December 1st. So I assume weather is too humid for Persian since it got trouble in late summer, and weather is too cold for Pakistan to make reliable fruit (think I read somewhere before their buds are killed by spring frosts).

Illinois Everbearing seems to be the standard on East Coast... I am going to try Geraldi Dwarf to have a more maintainable sized tree.


A rep told me LE Cooke (company that makes the low grafted persian some nurseries carry) told me Persian should survive my weather and their website i found this [about mulberries in NY]: "There are two issues involved in answering your question. One is the cold hardiness of the tree and the other is the root system to handle the poor drainage of the clay soil.

All our Mulberries are grown or Morus alba tatarica - Russian Mulberry rootstock. It can handle cold to zone 3 and it has proven itself durable for most soil types. We ship mulberries throughout the Eastern states and tens of thousands of them into the Ontario, Canada area. I am confident it can handle normal clay.

The variety I know will grow and fruit for you is the Persian Fruiting Mulberry. It is cold hardy to USDA Zone 4. The Black Beauty Mulberry is a smaller tree also with excellent fruit. I do not have as wide a history of it as far as extreme climates. I am confident it will survive in Zone 5 and will probably go into zone 4 as well but do not have actual confirmation of that. Unfortunately, the Cooke's Pakistan with its huge 2"-3" tasty fruit will not survive in your winters. It will go in Zone 7 and maybe Zone 6 with some early year tip damage. Another alternative is the Teas Weeping Mulberry (Zone 3) which has small blackberry-like fruit. This tree is often used in formal landscapes because of its weeping shape."

    Bookmark   January 5, 2012 at 12:36PM
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Well that's not good news!

    Bookmark   January 5, 2012 at 7:54PM
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armyofda12mnkeys(7a, Philly, PA)

Yeh, kinda conflicting information on internet.
California fruit growers says hardy to 5F and killed at 0F.

Whitman farms says "but Morus nigra is a tempermental plant hating cold, hot, humid, dry, etc. "
One of their M.Nigra desc: "Unfortunately, it can't stand any zone less than 7 and probably not more than 9. It may just be a westcoast tree. We are soooo lucky."
RainTree says about their M.Nigra: "The tree is hardy in USDA Zones 8-10. B"


On my Pakistan, out of 50 buds, 1 bud survived and branched out ... but grew well and it was healthier whole summer and fall then the Persian.

On the Persian, out of 50 buds, almost all survived and got 5 main branches out of them, but it didn't matter, it didnt look very healthy whole summer. One berry formed the first year, birds got it.
Its in a very large plastic pot, and wrapped up and protected from cold in my shed now. I will plant in ground next year and report back if it looks healthier.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2012 at 9:36PM
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Pruned to 10-15 feet tall?
That would be a challenge--my Noir de Spain is 6 years old and I estimate about 35-40 feet tall. I guess you could pollard it, but I will say I try to plan to prune my tree appropriately every year (mine is on my grass median on my street) but every year it grows crazy out of bounds. Over the sidewalk I have been cutting the main branches every year to no lower than 8 feet so my neighbors can walk under it, but by mid-summer the main branches and the small branches growing since spring have grown/weighted down the branch so much that people have to duck to go under.
My point being, they are not that easy to keep under control!

Carla in Sac

    Bookmark   January 5, 2012 at 9:46PM
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I'd like to plant a Morus nigra cv. 'Black Beauty' in zone 7a [6b border) northern New Jersey. Btw, this is believed* to be a dwarf-strain, according to the plant patent description.

I was considering planting it right next to the house - on the south side.

1. Will it survive the winter cold, with it being next to the house and able to receive some additional winter protection by future planed design, in addition to by microclimate.

2. What may matter most: will the humidity (northeast: NJ) cause fungal infection, which is why it cannot thrive in warmer, southern parts of the northeat (i.e. NC).


    Bookmark   January 6, 2012 at 10:47PM
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skyjs(z8 OR, USA)

Morus Nigra grows much more slowly up here in the PNW. Mine is probably 12 years old and 12 feet tall. Very productive and reliable. No diseases here, but no way very tall.
John S

    Bookmark   January 13, 2012 at 12:03AM
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