How do you grow mulberries, as a tree or pruned as a shrub?

nick_b79(4/5 Southeast MN)November 20, 2011

I've read of both methods, and it sounds like constantly pruning the mulberry back every few years would result in a multi-stemmed shrub that would be much easier to harvest from than a 25+ ft tree.

I'm curious if anyone here has done this, and how it worked out? What kind of yields could I expect with an established 7-8 ft mulberry bush? I'm looking at Illinois Everbearing, but since these are grafted I'm wondering if this method would work? Could I just plant the tree deeper, or at an angle so that it's partially on it's side to ensure the graft union is below soil level to ensure all new shoots were from the hybrid and not the rootstock?

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alan haigh

I have heard of hedging mulberries by cutting back growing wood a few times during the growing season but never done it myself.

I keep the trees low and compact by training mulberries to a weep by removing all upright wood a couple times during the growing season and let the horizontal wood grow out until it bends down under its weight or using tape to pull vigorous new wood down to lower branches.

This will work to turn them into beautiful trees.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2011 at 6:03AM
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nick_b79(4/5 Southeast MN)

I hadn't thought of growing them as weeping trees; I'd assumed you needed to purchase a variety specifically developed as a weeper to get that form.

How tall do you let the trees grow before you begin to prune them to shape? The mental image I'm getting is a solid tree trunk 5-6 ft tall with a mushroom top shape from the long branches being pulled down. Do you let the branches touch the ground, or prune them at the tips as well? Do you have to continously prune the arching branches to prevent new shoots from growing up from them? Also, do you get fairly good yields on your trees when grown with this method? Thanks for the idea!

    Bookmark   November 20, 2011 at 1:11PM
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alan haigh

No matter what it will be a continuous effort to keep a mulberry low and compact. Hedging probably would require more frequent pruning because you are encouraging a vegetative response with that kind of pruning while branches below horizontal slow a trees overall growth.

On sites where I grow mulberries I have to keep them above the deer so the pendulous branching begins at 8' or so and the trunk has a total height of 15' or more. Deer love mulberry leaves and small wood.

You could certainly train them at say a 9' max height- why would you want branches touching the ground if you are managing the sod by mowing?

    Bookmark   November 20, 2011 at 4:58PM
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If you,re in central mn. I,d be careful about planting a illinois everbearing,brcause I tried and mine winterkilled.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2011 at 7:23PM
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nick_b79(4/5 Southeast MN)

Eugene, I moved to south a few years ago, so now I'm down near Hastings rather than up near St. Cloud. That 150 miles really makes a noticable difference in winter temps!

    Bookmark   November 20, 2011 at 10:26PM
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Both work & a few have been trained like a grape vine.
In a "T" form about 5 feet tall.
Deer love mine.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2011 at 12:07AM
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Nick- I've done it and it ain't too hard. Lopped the bare root Illinois Everbearing mulberry off at 2' and trained the emerging shoots to horizontal. Now I just prune everything over 8' off in the winter. The resulting tree has a "flying saucer" form as it just keeps getting larger in diameter. Hey, it's a mulberry, it's almost impossible to kill, so experiment. My tree is too low to mow under, and is easy to cover with bird netting.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2011 at 4:37PM
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nick_b79(4/5 Southeast MN)

Thought I'd bring this thread up to give an update. I should have listened to Eugene; my IL Everbearing died completely this past winter :-(

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 12:09AM
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Well, I just crossed mulberries off of my "fruit to try in 2014" list. I knew it would be a gamble. Thanks for the heads up.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 9:11AM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

I put stakes around the mulberry and to the stakes attached twine from stake to stake. Tied the tip of each limb and pulled them down and tied them off. As the apical dominance switches and it sprouts new limbs upright I tied them off also until the bush is filled out. Once they get heavier they will push down anyway.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 7:56AM
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bonsaist(Z6/ Bethlehem, Pa)

I grow several mulberries, Illinois everbearing is the most vigorous and tends to get to 25' tall tree in one season.
Other mulberry trees I have I prune down to about 10'15' with one single trunk. I prune right after I'm done harvesting in summer, Then again in late winter it's pruned back. Some times I get a second crop after pruning, since mulberries is formed on new growth.


    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 8:01AM
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I have an IL Everbearing Mulberry that I have in a pot and am attempting to train into espalier form. I have had it since early spring and compared with all my other trees, it grows like crazy. It has probably put on about 4-5 feet of growth on new shoots this year. And this is after getting it in spring bare root, so in a normal year without stressed roots, i bet new growth would be much longer already.

It has berries on it already, which surprised me cause i've only had it for such a short period, and they are delicious. I am going to tip the new shoots within the next week or so as the new cordons are about the length I want. I imagine this tree is going to take summer pruning every couple weeks to keep it maintained and serious dormant pruning.

Does anyone know if the berries grow off of new wood only? All my berries seem to be growing within the first 6-10 inches of new shoots.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 9:55AM
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I can't imagine anyone deliberately planting mulberries at all.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 10:57AM
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Why not?

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 11:14AM
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I also found the IL Hardy mulberries dies out in my area (a fairly dry and windy Z5a). However I did get a mulberry from St Lawrence Nurseries which has lived through two winters now. Has not really taken off yet, but doing much better than the previous variety.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 11:21AM
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l&d - they're so invasive. I'm constantly trying to pull mulberry seedlings out of all my beds, and they have the most tenacious roots. And they're raccoon magnets.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 11:58AM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

They are raccoon magnets and bird magnets. Here they ripen about the time the blueberries ripen so pull some pressure off of them as the birds prefer the mulberries. It is nice to draw the coons in and get them trapped and disposed of before the peaches ripen.

But mostly I grow them because they are can you say no to this?

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 1:13PM
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If they were blackberries ...

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 3:37PM
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Those are some wicked claws, did you take that picture during a full moon? :)

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 3:42PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)


I grow 90 feet of blackberries also but the mulberries are long done by the time the blackberries are ripening (they are just about done now).

Perhaps the mulberries you grow up in the cold are not as good but these are fine eating. The tree is also attractive as the leaves are the size of dinner plates.


They are some talons I agree....and no those are not my digits:)

This post was edited by bamboo_rabbit on Mon, Jul 1, 13 at 16:13

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 4:12PM
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Mulberries are a de gustibus thing. I'm sure many people actually like them.

"great garden walls that are covered with the best fruit-trees in the country; and such a mulberry tree in one corner! "

-Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 4:31PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Mulberries are really good! Although they vary in taste from tree to tree. I love them, and so easy to grow too! I don't grow any as a few wild ones are in the area, I always pick them, and nothing is needed to be done. They were loaded this year too! What a great tree!!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 7:34PM
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Steve333, I live in Colorado springs, CO. I have one Illinois Everbearing mulberry. It was planted in 2008 and seems to be doing very well. It has lots of berries this year. Good luck with yours.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 7:22PM
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I am in Colorado, about 50 miles north of Denver. My mulberry trees were here when I moved in 12 years ago. They were large then, 25 ft at least, Four trees covered a large area of our yard. We have removed all but One now, and are considering taking that one out as well. My concern is that, as stated above, the birds and squirrels love them. To anyone wanting to know why grow a mulberry, that is the answer. They totally ignore the cherry tree right next to them. I would love to keep them in some form, but don't have room for the large tree. I have potted up a few of the seedlings and am going to try them as bushes. Wish me luck.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2013 at 3:19PM
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