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Purple and red mulberry fruit hanging.
Everyone loves mulberries. The sweet, tangy fruit is abundant and moreish, making it the perfect summer snack. It needs room to grow, but if you don’t have a lot of space, look for dwarf forms or prune to size.

 

What you need to know about mulberry trees

Name: mulberry, black mulberry, white mulberry, Morus spp. (Morus rubra, Morus macroura, Morus nigra, Morus alba).

Height: 8-15m; dwarf forms to 3m.

Width: 3-10m.

Plant type: deciduous tree.

Climate: subtropical, temperate, cool and cold climates.

Soil: well-drained and enriched with plenty of organic matter.

Position: full sun.

Foliage: broad, lime-green, whole or lobed leaves with lightly toothed margins.

Flowering and fruiting: an inflorescence of tiny white or red flowers arranged along a short spike (‘catkin’). Fruit are small berries that, in the common black variety, start white to pale-green, age red and eventually mature to dark red, purple or black. Morus macroura ‘Shahtoot’ have immature green fruit that mature to white or red.

Feeding: apply fertiliser in early spring.

Watering: water regularly, especially in hot, dry conditions.

Appearance and characteristics

Mulberry is a fast-growing, deciduous tree with small red-purple-black berries from late spring through summer. It grows into a large tree with a gnarly trunk and broad, spreading canopy. It's best suited to large gardens but can be kept more compact with regular pruning. Alternatively, look for dwarf forms. The lime-green leaves are an attractive feature and often used to feed silkworms. The sweet-to-tart berries are a delicious snack straight off the tree.

The weeping mulberry (M. alba ‘Pendula’) is a beautiful small tree that grows to 3m and has graceful pendulous branches. It’s widely used in gardens as an ornamental feature rather than a fruit tree. For a productive, high-yielding variety, look for the traditional black mulberry (Morus nigra). Red or white forms of ‘Shahtoot’ (Morus macroura ‘Shahtoot’) also fruit well, producing masses of long red or white berries. Take care when choosing a planting spot as the fruit can stain paths and hard surfaces.

Close up of white mulberries with two leaves.

Mulberry versus blackberry

While these berries look very similar, there are a few key differences. Mulberries grow on trees and have longer, oval-shaped fruit. Blackberries form on canes and the fruit is typically shorter, round, plump and shiny. However, they’re equally delicious!

Uses for mulberries

Like most berries, mulberries can be enjoyed fresh, whizzed into smoothies or frozen. They are also great for making jams and conserves.

How to grow a mulberry tree

Mulberries grow well in most climates except for the hot tropics. They are hardy once established and tolerant of cold conditions and frost. Choose a spot in full sun with well-drained soil and protection from strong winds. Dig a hole twice the size of the root ball and to the same depth. Mix in compost and organic pelletised fertiliser and fork in. Plant up, backfill and water in well. Mulch around the base with an organic mulch like pine bark or sugar cane mulch, keeping it at least 10cm away from the trunk.

Caring for a mulberry tree

Water regularly in the first year, especially during hot, dry weather. Once established, watering frequency can be reduced. Top up the mulch to help retain soil moisture and control weeds.

Prune in late winter when the tree is dormant, cutting it back hard to an ‘open vase’ framework. It can also be trellised to a fence or sturdy support to keep the size manageable and make it easier to harvest. A light prune in summer will also help control excessive growth.

Mulberry tree with bright green leaves.

How often to water and feed a mulberry tree

Mulberries are tolerant of dry conditions once established, but will perform better with regular watering, especially when fruiting. Feed in early spring with a fertiliser that’s specially formulated for fruiting plants.

How and when to harvest mulberries

After planting, a mulberry tree takes two to three years to bear fruit. Fruit appears from late spring or early summer; pick when berries have changed colour. The fruit will not continue to ripen after being picked, so only harvest berries when they’re ready.

Diseases and pests that affect mulberries

Mulberry trees are fairly trouble-free, but they might occasionally suffer from bacterial blight or fungal leaf spot. Prune affected growth and dispose of any infected plant parts. An annual winter prune will help open up the canopy, increase air flow and reduce the risk of disease.

How to propagate a mulberry tree

While you can grow a mulberry tree from seed, this is not recommended as it can take up to 10 years to bear fruit. A better alternative is to try growing one from a cutting.

To do this, take a 30-50cm cutting in autumn or early spring. Remove any side shoots and most of the foliage, leaving one or two leaves near the tip. Insert the cutting into a pot filled with well-drained mix, position in a warm spot and keep moist. Transplant into a larger pot the following year.

If you like this then try

Macadamia: a handsome evergreen tree with delicious buttery nuts.

Plum: trees reliably produce sweet fruit in abundance over summer and autumn.

Feijoa: a Kiwi favourite that ripens from April to June, depending on the variety.

Start planting today

Check out our wide range of plants now and get your garden growing!

 

Photo credit: Getty Images

Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.