Growing Mulberry Trees: How To Grow A Fruitless Mulberry Tree
By: Jackie Carroll
The problem with growing mulberry trees is the berries. They create a mess on the ground beneath the trees and stain everything they come in contact with. In addition, the birds that eat the berries disburse the seeds, and the species has become invasive in the wild. Fruitless mulberry trees (Morus alba ‘Fruitless’) are just as appealing as the fruited varieties, but without the mess or the invasive potential.
So what is a fruitless mulberry tree? A fruitless mulberry tree is an excellent choice for a medium to large shade tree in home landscapes. It grows 20 to 60 feet (6 to 18 m.) tall with a dense canopy as much as 45 feet (13.7 m.) wide. This handsome tree has dark green foliage in summer which turns yellow before it drops in fall.
How to Grow a Fruitless Mulberry Tree
When growing fruitless mulberry trees, you should plant the trees in full sun or partial shade. You’ll also want to plant the trees at least 6 feet (1.8 m.) from sidewalks, driveways and foundations because their strong roots can lift and crack cement and pavement.
The trees tolerate almost any type of soil, but do best in a well-drained, loamy soil.
Trees benefit from staking the first year. Young trees tend to be top-heavy and the trunks snap easily in strong winds. If the stake is left in place more than a year, it may do more harm than good.
Fruitless Mulberry Care
Growing fruitless mulberry trees is easy because the trees require very little care. Once established it withstands both drought and extended flooding, but it will grow faster if watered during dry spells.
The tree doesn’t need fertilizer until its second year. A 2-inch (5 cm.) layer of compost in spring is ideal. Spread the compost under the canopy and a few feet beyond it. If you want to use a granular fertilizer instead, choose one with a ratio of about 3:1:1.
Pruning Fruitless Mulberry
Pruning fruitless mulberry trees is another factor of fruitless mulberry care. Mature trees seldom need pruning, but you may need to shape young trees and remove or shorten branches that droop too close to the ground.
The best time to prune mulberries is in winter after the leaves have dropped. Remove broken or diseased branches any time of year.
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I think the fruitless mulberry tree in my front yard might be dying. One half has leaves and the other half has nothing. I was wondering if I should try cutting the leafless side out. Would it grow back? Is the whole tree gone? I'm going to try to prune the entire tree, fertilize it and water it. I don't want to do if it's too late though. Please help me figure out what to do.
It does sound like it is suffering and with that much damage, you have a tough choice.
You can try to treat it and it may come back, but it may take years before it fully recovers, if it can recover at all. Or you can replace it with a new tree, which will likely take years to real that tree's size.
If you want to treat it, you can try spraying it with neem oil. It is both a fungicide and a pesticide and is systemic, so will be absorbed by the parts of the tree that you can reach to spray and carry it to the parts you cannot. This will cover many of the problems that could be affecting it.
I would also recommend that you have an arborist come and look at it. Tree problems are very difficult to diagnose without directly examining the tree.
Pruning a Fruitless Mulberry Tree
Assess the magnitude of the pruning job before you begin. For trees that have not been pruned for over two years, consider hiring a professional tree trimmer for the job because it will be a big one.
Cut the top off a young tree in early spring by cutting off all of its main branches. Do not top the tree again after it is older.
Prune each branch close to the “knuckle” or branch collar where it connects to the main trunk after your tree is older. Do not cut off the swollen knuckle or collar.
Paint each cut with a tar-based product that will protect the tree from disease and insect invasion if you desire, although this is not imperative. Differing opinions exist on the value of using pruning tar, so think before you do it because it can also cause microbes or insects to become sealed inside the tree.
- Assess the magnitude of the pruning job before you begin.
- Paint each cut with a tar-based product that will protect the tree from disease and insect invasion if you desire, although this is not imperative.
Load all cut branches into a large vehicle and dispose of them at your green waste facility or landfill. If you have a chipper/shredder, use the ground-up plant material as mulch, or add it to a compost pile.