Planting Mulberry Tree and Top Caring Tips
People interested in mulberry tree planting do so for two reasons: to pick the trees delicious fruit and/or to provide a source of quick shade in their yard. Additionally, because mulberries are such quick-growing trees, they are not that expensive at nurseries, so that along with their fruit and shade-giving properties, this makes mulberries one of the most popular trees in many areas of the United States and Canada.
Keep Gender and Size in Mind
The fruit is only produced by the female mulberry tree. When mulberry tree planting, this is important to take into consideration because when the tree does produce fruit, it does so in abundance, making a huge mess to those who do not intend to use the fruit.
Conversely, planting mulberries with the hope of harvesting the bounty, only to be disappointed with a tree that produces nothing more than pollen can be quite disappointing, as well.
Because of the mulberry trees spreading nature, it makes an excellent shade tree. Some species can reach heights of up to 80 feet, but most only grow from 30 to 50 feet tall. You will want to select areas for mulberry tree planting that receive full sun and do not plant the trees any closer than 15 feet apart. If you are planting female mulberries, make sure you do not plant them near any doorway to your home or any other area upon which you do not wish to find mulberry stains tracked from the soles of shoes.
Basic Mulberry Tree Care
Mulberry tree planting should be done in good, loamy, well-drained soil. Although not absolutely necessary, as these are tough, drought- and wind-resistant trees, mulberries can be fertilized yearly with a balanced formula. Pruning limbs larger than two inches in diameter is not recommended, if possible, because of this tree’s propensity to bleed sap.
If pruning must be done to get rid of crossing or crowded branches or to remove dead wood, do so when the tree is dormant to cut down on the amount of bleeding sap.
Mulberry tree planting of the varieties that produce fruit will reward you richly with berries that vary in color (depending upon the species) from white, red, or black when ripe. To harvest, you can either place a clean sheet under the branches of ripe fruit and shake the branches vigorously or pick the mulberries individually by standing on a ladder.
These berries, particularly the black mulberries, make an excellent ingredient for anything in which one would use blackberries or raspberries and make an excellent mix along with apples and pears in a simple fruit salad. They also do exceptionally well in ice cream, pies, tarts, and puddings, and are excellent when made into jams, jellies, and preserves.
As mentioned before, mulberry tree planting makes sense for people wanting quick shade, delicious, versatile fruit, or both. For a good, all-around tree that requires little care and gives back much more than it takes, considers the mulberry. Despite what some people claim as the mulberry’s faults and flaws, one thing is apparent: Its popularity speaks for itself.
How to Prune Mulberry Trees
The best time to prune a Mulberry tree is in the dormant season when there are no leaves on the tree. There are two exceptions to this. First in case of safety issues, if the tree is blocking your vision of a street sign. The second is for health reasons. There may be a diseased branch that has to be removed.
There are two types of pruning techniques commonly used on Mulberry trees. The first is called crown reduction. Crown reduction is the shortening of branches by pruning the leader back to the length of healthy, vibrant secondary branches and allowing them to become the new leader branches. This strengthens the somewhat weak wood of Mulberry trees. This technique involves reducing the top, sides, and individual branches in this manner.
The second technique is called pollarding. This should be started when the tree is still quite young and the branches small. Mulberry is prone to bleeding. Cuts more than 2″ in measurement ought to be maintained a strategic distance from in light of the fact that they will in all probability not mend. This will likewise leave your tree defenseless to growths and illness.
Pollarding cuts should be completed before the buds start to open and show color. Only the slightest bit of branch should be left to form a knuckle. This should be repeated every 2 years. Each time remove the new growth to the knuckle but leave the swollen area. Latent buds will sprout from this knuckle.
This is not the healthiest way to prune a tree but Mulberry trees can thrive under this type of care for years. Pollarding was originally done as a way of keeping trees small. If your tree has already been pruned this way you must continue it.
The above two pruning techniques actually shorten the life span of your tree. They drain the tree of its energy and strength. It will spend more time trying to replace the foliage that was cut. It will starve and become weakened by being deprived of the food that was in the leaves.
Mulberry trees do not require special pruning techniques. The following gentle tips can be used on any tree as well as the Mulberry. They will produce a much healthier tree when followed.
• First remove any diseased, broken, or dead branches.
• You should never remove more than 1/3 of your tree’s leaves at a time. You should wait until the next year to remove any more than this.
• Try to make as few cuts as possible. Use cuts to guide the shape of the tree. You should carefully examine the tree to determine which branches you will cut. It should only require about 5 main cuts to prune a healthy tree. Plan ahead and visualize before making any cut.
• When cutting a branch always cut back to a branch that is at least 1/3 the diameter of the branch to be cut. The energy from the branch that was removed will now be transferred to the branch at the cut.
• Think about the natural shape of trees. About 2/3 of the trees leaf canopy should be below the top. Many people make the mistake of removing too much new growth from the bottom and the tree ends up looking like a top-heavy beach umbrella. This makes the tree more susceptible to wind damage and it may get blown over in a storm.
Pruning a Mulberry tree is not difficult. One last bit of advice is to know the purpose of each cut beforehand. Trees are pruned for different reasons. Is it for increased fruit production, to control the size or to maintain it’s health? Careful preparation before making any cut is the key to successful, healthy, maintained Mulberry trees.