Controlling mulberry height

c5tigerMarch 22, 2013

I just got a silk hope mulberry that I would like to keep at the 15-20' height. It is a 3' whip. Is there anything that I need to do now, should I cut the top off or let it be for now?

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skyjs(z8 OR, USA)

Mine has grown so slowly. I would just have to prune it every like 4 years! Not a difficult task, and I still don't prune it.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 2:26PM
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bonsaist(Z6/ Bethlehem, Pa)

I prune mine twice a year, once after they fruit in mid summer, then in late winter.


    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 3:12PM
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If you poke around - you will find wild/feral mulberries in the area....

Most of the ones I have seen are 15-20 feet tall by themselves... Just remember that 15-20' tall is the height of your average 2-story house.....

I think I saw the the Illinois everbearing can get up to 40' tall... which is like a nice, stately Oak tree - that drops purple berries...

Personally - I like to keep them under 10-12 feet if possible - this way, I can get to the fruit.... With this goal in mind - you kinda end up pruning it more for a multi-trunked tree sort of form rather than a single, central lead tree....

Topping them seems to sometimes stimulate branching.. Sometimes it doesn't... Mulberries are kinda like Figs in this regard.... Trim them and they do whatever they do... not always what you thought or planned for....


    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 5:25PM
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I have 2 wild mulberries in the area. One is about 15' tall and has several trunks like a bush. The over tree is a single trunk and it is huge. I don't have any experience with mulberries and don't want a 40' tree.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 6:18PM
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alan haigh

How a mulberry will grow will depend a lot on soil and inherent vigor of your seedling. You can keep it any height you want if you prune it but how much effort that will require is highly variable. I manage Illinois Everbearing mulberries at several sites and the richer the soil the harder it is to keep small.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 7:16PM
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You are way ahead of the pack by thinking about this now. I would mulch, water regularly, and fertilize to give it a good chance to grow a bunch of healthy roots, leaving all the leaves, twigs, and branches on to photosynthesize the first year. Next Winter you can begin the strategic pruning/shaping for future development plans. Or, wait even another full year. By then you will be able to see if your tree plans on taking over the world quickly, or is on the proverbial 'slow boat to China'. I am in the process of taming a few ambitious m/b via heavy pruning and forming several scaffold branches like the peach/plum design. Being more compact and horizontal beats the normal Godzilla shape/size. ...especially in a space shared with other fruit trees.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 8:37PM
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I have horribly infertile soil.... My 3-year old Mulberry is already huge... Gotta drag out the ladder and top it back down a bit this year...

I have another one way out back where nothing grows - and it's growing much slower....

I would say.... Unless it's not growing at all - I wouldn't do too much in the way of fertilization - so maybe let it get residual lawn fertilizer and a ring of mulch to make mowing easier... but not much else... These can be FAST growing trees that turn into giants....

Also - like figs - fertiilzation pushes a TON of green growth at the expense of fruit....


    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 10:38PM
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alan haigh

You can do a lot of different things with mulberry if you want to take the time. In my files I have a method of repeated stub cuts to create a dwarfish tree. I like to try to prune them to a weep. I pull shoots down below horizontal and cut to downward growth. Problem with my method is you have to prune twice a year to keep them under control. I don't know how the stubbing method plays out. Maybe it ends up a bit like a pollard where vigor is reduced by all the wounded tissue over time.

If you had some kind of frame to tie down branches to below horizontal as they form it might create an interesting specimen.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 6:32AM
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I think its funny when people say they don't fertilize their fruit trees, then casually mention that they fertilize the lawn surrounding it, or that they add 8" of manure or compost twice a year.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 6:45AM
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Harvestman- The training that I have been employing since last year does involve whacking off the thick verticle trunks, letting replacement suckers 'erupt' out of the tree, letting them grow into fishing- pole shaped, flexible shoots, bending them outward/downward , and tethering them with string so they continue to grow fairly horizontal and further outward. Over time they thicken and send out upward growing shoots. Each Winter the verticle branches growing along the former bent fishing pole are cut off about a foot above the scaffold limb. Each Spring the verticle stubbs bust out with new growth....which produces the berries....The less time I spend on a ladder trying to hand pick fruit, the longer my neck will possibly not get broken.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 4:36PM
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alan haigh

So how is that method working for you as far as fruit production?

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 7:57PM
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Since I tie the young scaffolds outward from the trunk and spaced out sideways from one another like spokes on a bicycle wheel, the access to a good share of the Sunlight works well. At this moment the several Pakistan trees are loaded up with lots of green, rapidly expanding 2" - 2-1/2" long berries. The big Shangri La is now in it's third day of berry pickin' time. To direct most of the sap to the scaffolds, I regularly break off many new sprouts that begin to poke out of the main trunk. The formerly skinny scaffolds are getting thicker quicker that way......This is a version of the mulberry tree training model used by silk worm outfits that grow these trees to feed the leaves to the worms. They try to make scaffolds grow at about 4 feet in height so leaf harvesting from the verticle branches is much easier. No need to invent a new wheel.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 11:49PM
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yukkuri_kame(Sunset 19 / USDA 9)

I inherited a BIG non-fruiting mulberry which I have recently grafted fruiting budwood onto.

Anyway, the thing probably has a 3' diameter trunk, which divides about at about 4 feet high into several main limbs, each with considerable girth of it's own.

As for vigor, I think most of the poles I took off it this winter were 15 feet - that's LESS than one year's growth, as we had it trimmed late last spring. The tree trimmers want $500 a year to keep this thing in check, but now I do it myself, what a PITA. What am I gonna do with all these mulberry poles?

Good luck.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 5:17AM
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