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Australian Grow Guide: Mulberries

Mulberry trees are fairly low-care plants that don’t need a lot of maintenance. What’s more, they can be grown in almost every part of Australia.

Mulberries are graceful trees with weeping stems and foliage and delicious small fruits that you can harvest to make jam. That is if you can get them before the birds do!

I have a gorgeous white mulberry in my current garden and I just love its lovely weeping stems that create a shaded canopy during summer and let the sun shine through in winter when the deciduous leaves have dropped.

If you have the space in your garden, you can grow a mulberry into a large standard tree. Otherwise, there are smaller growing varieties that can be grown as bushes if trimmed regularly.

What growing conditions do mulberry trees like?

Mulberry tree 1 1 | Fruit & Vegetables

Mulberry trees aren’t all that fussy when it comes to their preferred growing conditions. They like loamy soil that is well-drained and slightly acidic. The ideal pH would be in the range of 6.0 to 6.5.

Mulberries do prefer to grow in a sunny spot in the garden that offers some protection from frost when the tree is young.

Thanks to the many different varieties and cultivars available, mulberry trees can be grown in almost every part of Australia.

There are low-chill varieties that can grow in the warmer regions of the country and more traditional forms that grow well in the south where cold winters are normal.

Most mulberry trees are self-fertile which means that you only need one tree to produce a bumper harvest of sweet juicy fruit.

How to plant a mulberry tree

Planting a mulberry tree is fairly easy because you can usually buy it in a pot from a nursery or garden centre. All you have to do is enrich the soil with some manure or compost and then dig a hole that is slightly larger than the root ball.

Carefully take the plant out of the pot and place it in the hole. Take care not to damage the roots. Backfill the hole and water deeply to settle the soil around the roots.

It’s a good idea not to plant your mulberry tree near pathways because the fruit can make a bit of a mess when it ripens and drops.

How to grow a mulberry tree from a cutting

Cuttings should be taken in spring or autumn and should be around 30 cm long. When taking your cuttings, use new growth that has some two-year-old wood toward the base of the cutting.

Use fairly deep pots to strike your cuttings in. This is because you want to bury the cuttings relatively deep so that you only have around 2 or 3 buds above the surface of the potting mix. 

Be prepared to be patient because it might take a year or two for the cuttings to produce a sustainable root system.

It’s also possible to cut longer branches from a mulberry tree and plant them in the ground where you want the resulting tree to grow. For this, you want to cut off a long branch from the tree and remove any of the lateral branches.

This needs to be buried deep in the ground. In fact, you want to bury around half the length of the branch in the soil.

How to care for a mulberry tree

Mulberry tree | Fruit & Vegetables

Mulberry trees are fairly low-care plants that don’t need a lot of maintenance. You only need to fertilise your tree once a year with organic slow-release fertiliser such as Dynamic Lifter.

As mulberry trees are quite prolific in their growth, you might want to prune on an annual basis during winter when the tree has dropped its leaves and is dormant.

Make sure you remove any dead wood and trim any really long branches back to a growth bud. You can also remove any branches that are inwardly growing or that rub against other branches.

I tend to give my mulberry tree a good haircut in winter in order to maintain its shape and remove as much dead wood as possible. I cut back the long weeping branches to around shoulder height.

By the time summer arrives, these branches will have grown again to almost touch the ground.

You also want to ensure that you water your tree during long periods of dry weather. If the tree is left to dry out for too long, it may not produce juicy ripe fruits and any unripe fruits will fall off the tree.

How and when to harvest mulberry fruit

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If you want to be able to harvest the fruit from your mulberry tree, you’ll have to place a net over it.

Otherwise, the birds will strip the tree completely clean of fruit before you have the chance to harvest any of it.

The best and simplest way to harvest the fruit is to wait until early autumn. Then, place a large sheet of plastic or cloth around the base of the tree and give the entire tree a gentle shake.

All the ripe fruit will drop onto the sheet underneath while unripe fruits will stay on the tree. Bear in mind, that mulberries bleed freely which is why this method is the easiest and cleanest way of harvesting the fruit.

Mulberry tree varieties in Australia

In Australia, there are plenty of different varieties of mulberry trees including red, black, or white species and cultivars.

These include both tall tree varieties and also dwarf cultivars.

Some of the more common ones you’ll find include:

  • Beenleigh Black with large juicy black fruits
  • Black English with sweet black fruits
  • White Shahtoot with long sweet white fruits
  • Gayes Pink with sweet pink fruits
  • Hicks Fancy with long fruits that are red to black
  • Black Dwarf with large black fruits
  • Dwarf Red Shahtoot with long red fruits
  • Angela with sweet fruits that are pinkish-red in colour

FAQ

mulberry | Fruit & Vegetables

What does a mulberry tree look like?

Mulberry trees have a central trunk with long weeping branches. The leaves are dark green in colour and have serrated edges. When fully grown, the weeping branches form a lovely shady canopy beneath.

When do mulberry trees fruit?

Mulberry trees produce their fruit in summer which is usually ripe for harvest in early autumn.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.

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6 thoughts on “Australian Grow Guide: Mulberries”

    • Hi Doug

      Removing fruit on a young tree can be beneficial because it helps the tree to focus its energy on producing more growth rather than producing fruit.

      Reply
  1. Thanks Annette. I’ve got a white shatoot mulberry tree that I’m keen to put in the garden. I’ve got a spot that gets lots of sun in summer but only a couple of hours in winter. Would this work or more sun in winter required?
    Cheers,
    Hannah

    Reply
    • Hi Hannah

      I have a white mulberry growing in my garden too! In winter, the tree is dormant and has no leaves so it doesn’t need any sun to grow. Early spring is when the tree comes into growth again and this is when it will want some sunlight.

      Reply
  2. I want to propagate a black mulberry from a cutting off an old wild tree that has superb berries, near Meningie South Australia.
    The tree is at least 70 years old on sandy soil near the coast and has now shed all leaves.
    What’s the best way to take a few cuttings to plant out in a similar location?

    Reply
    • Hi Barry

      Once the tree has lost its leaves is the best time to take cuttings. That is in autumn or early spring. You want to take tip cuttings that are around 30 cm long with some older wood at the base and some newer growth on the tip. Bury this in a deep pot so that only two or three buds are above the soil level. You can even plant larger cuttings in the ground and they should produce roots. Just make sure you bury at least half of the cutting in the ground.

      Reply

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