How to Grow Mulberry Trees in Pots

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Mulberry tree with red black ripe and unripe mulberries.

Probably the simplest tree to grow for a beginner gardener, mulberries (black, white or red mulberries) are very difficult to kill and they grow easily in different climatic conditions and soils. Mulberry trees also grow fast and can reach upto the height of 30 ft and more.

 

It is possible to grow mulberry trees and get lots of fruit from a container. It should be planted gradually into a 15 inch deep container with a 15 inch diameter. In order to control the size and shape, pruning the tree is required. The best varieties for growing mulberry trees are “dwarf everbearing mulberry” (morus nigra) and Morus Issai variety but you can try growing any variety and keep the size under control by pruning.

 

It is even recommended to grow mulberry in containers as they have prolific and very fast growing roots and should not be planted near sewage lines.

 

Mulberry trees need full sun, water only when top soil is dry, well draining soil and minimal fertilizer (a handful of compost every month during the growing season) to successfully grow and bear fruit. 

 

Mulberry General Information

Origin

Southwestern Asia

Common Names

Mulberry, Mulberry, morus nigra, toot, shahtoot, shajarat tukki

Other cultivars

White and Red mulberry

(Morus Alba and M. Rubra respectively)

🌵Type

Perennial with biennial stems

🌵Climate

Temperate, arid or subtropical

🌡️Temperature

75°F to 86°F (20°C to 30°C)

USDA Zones: 5 to 9

🌼fruiting season

Spring to Summer

💧Watering

Only when 1-2 inch of topsoil is dry

☀️Light

Full sun or semi shade

Soil

Well draining rich soil

Soil + Compost

Fertilizer

handful of organic compost once a month just during growing season

Pot Size

15 inch deep with 15 inch diameter

Propagation🌱

Cuttings, air layering, grafting, seeds

Height📏

Upto 10m (32ft) tall &

15 m (50 ft) wide

Time it takes to get fruit

3 months to 12 months

Use

Jams, sherbets, chinese medicine, shade, ornamental fast growing tree

 

Propagation from Cuttings🌱

You can propagate Mulberry by stem cuttings or air layering. The best time to propagate mulberries is winter as the plant sheds its leaves and goes dormant, it lowers the energy consumption and such cuttings are viable for a longer period of time.

 

You will harvest fruits quickly by propagating the plant from cuttings, rather than growing Mulberry from seed.

 

Here are the steps to propagate from cuttings:

 

  1. Cut a 5-6 inch long stem of a mature Mulberry plant.
  2. Remove any leaves at the bottom of the cutting and cut the remaining leaves of the top in half to reduce perspiration.
  3. Water the soil first to add moisture.
  4. Place all the cuttings in the soil. Roots will come out of the nodes so bury at least 3-4 nodes in the soil. (you can also root the cuttings from water)
  5. Keep the cutting in a dark area.
  6. You will see new growth in about 40 days.
  7. Once the roots have developed, transfer the plant into a final pot (15 inch deep and 15 inch wide)

Growing from Seeds

Not a recommended way of growing mulberry as the germination rate is low, and you have to wait for years to get it to fruit. The best way is to buy a mulberry tree from a local nursery.

 

If you still wish to grow mulberry from seeds, here are the steps:

 

  1. Squeeze a ripened mulberry and extract all the seeds. 
  2. Clean the seeds gently and thoroughly.
  3. Sow the seeds in the soil (coco peat + compost) in a 4 inch pot or seed tray.
  4. Add a ¼ inch fine layer of potting mix. Do not sow the seeds too deep.
  5. Press it down lightly, firm the potting mix with the palm of your hand to create a smooth, even surface.
  6. Water the potting mix until it feels wet at a depth of 1 inch.
  7. Place the container in a dark area for 10 days and keep the potting mix moist all the time while the mulberry seeds germinate.
  8. Seeds will germinate in 5 to 10 days

How fast does Mulberry grow

Huge Mulberry leaf

Here is a table that explains the rate of growth for Mulberry that you can expect:

 

Event

No. of Days

New growth on transplant

10 days

New leaves and branches

30 to 50 days

Immature fruits

(white, green or pale yellow)

70 days

Mature red fruit

90 days

Ripe fruit

92 days

Fruit Harvesting

Mulberry is a self pollinating plant with both male and female flowers on the same plant. Depending on the variety of mulberry that you are growing, fruits are produced anywhere between the spring season until the end of summer. The Mulberry fruit falls from the tree as soon as it is ripe (dark color). It should be consumed once it's ripe as it rots quickly.

How to water💧

Mulberry transplants need frequent deep watering when they are young and growing in the first few months. Once established, mulberries do not require too much water and are fairly drought tolerant when they are mature. Overwatering can result in a tasteless fruit. Water your Mulberry tree when the top 1-2 inches of the soil is completely dry.  Just touch the top soil, if it is dry and doesn’t stick your fingers, water your Mulberry plant. If your mulberry tree is young, water frequently to keep the soil moist at all times but not wet at all.

 

If you live in a hot, dry, desert, arid or tropical climate, you will need to water Mulberry trees every day or even more than once to make sure the soil does not get too dry under full sun and keep the soil slightly moist in such climates. During spring and winter months, you may need to water the plant just once a week. During the cooler days, the plant will very likely be dormant so you will need to reduce the frequency of watering as it does not need much water (or fertilizer) when dormant.

Sunlight Requirements ☀️

Mulberry trees grow in full sun, at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sun. If required, they can grow in shade as well but won’t produce much fruit as compared to full sun. If you live in a hot, dry, desert, arid or tropical climate, place the Mulberry tree pot in a location that receives shade from the afternoon sun.

 

Morus alba 'Kingan' is a variety that is suitable for dry climates.

Temperature/Humidity Range🌡️

Mulberry trees thrive in varying climatic conditions from temperate to tropical. Ideal growing temperature for a Mulberry tree is between 75°F to 86°F (24°C to 30°C) with relative humidity of 65 to 80%.

Soil

Mulberry needs rich and well draining soil, with a neutral or slightly acidic pH (6.2 to 6.8 pH). So opt for a soil that is rich in compost or manure and does not hold water. If you live in a hot, dry, desert, arid or tropical climate, cover the soil with mulch (dead leaves, coco peat, or wood chips) to keep the soil temperature cool and avoid heating of exposed soil by the sun.

 

One recommended soil mix can be Compost + Sand/perlite. Another recommended soil mix can be a soilless potting mix: mix of organic matter like peat, wood chips, or coco coir, perlite and/or vermiculite, some slow release fertilizer - and no soil at all. 

 

When you water your plant, check that the water is draining well. If it’s not, your soil is clogging the water in the container and you may need to change the soil or check the drainage holes of your container.

Fertilizer

Mulberries do well without added fertilizer. However, if you are growing mulberries in a pot, the rich nutrients of the soil wash off easily with waterings so you can enrich the soil once a month with a handful of organic compost.

 

You can also spray epsom salt once every 2 months.

Pruning

Mulberry trees can grow upto 10m (32ft) tall. This can get very difficult to harvest. To keep the mulberry manageable and easy to grow and harvest, pruning is recommended especially when growing in a pot. You can prune the mulberry tree upto 2-6 feet (0.5 to 2 m) after fruiting.

 

The right time to prune a mulberry tree is during winter (dormancy period) or when they have just produced all the fruit. Light pruning of dead, damaged, diseased or crossing branches can be done anytime.

 

To prune the mulberry tree, you can prune the side branches if you want the growth to be vertical, or you can prune from the top to give it a bush shape. You can use the pruned leaves as mulch or put them in your compost bin. You can use the pruned branches for propagating mulberry.

Pests 🐛and Diseases🦠

Silkworms, spider mites and birds are a common problem with mulberries. However, since you are growing mulberry trees in a pot, a lot of pests and diseases will naturally be avoided. If needed, you can easily get rid of these pests.

Things to check before buying Mulberry Plant

Look for the following attributes when buying a mulberry plant.

  • Pick the one with the thickest trunk as it will be much older and much stronger. It will also hopefully produce fruit quickly.
  • Look at the base of the plant and touch the soil. If you see any signs of root rot or water clogging.
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