Mulberry trees bring a unique look to your landscape while also growing bountiful berries for you to enjoy!
While some people grow them specifically for their berries, they are great for both purposes because of their fast growth rate and overall beauty.
Mulberry trees grow an average of 1-2 feet per year. Their growth is affected by the specific variety, climate, planting location, and nutrient supply available. A mulberry tree will reach its mature size of 30-60 feet tall after about 20 to 30 years.
If you’re looking to add a mulberry tree to your landscape, read on! You’ll find information regarding its growth rate, factors that affect its growth rate, different varieties, and all of its growth phases in detail. These facts will help to grow a prolific mulberry tree like a pro!
If you want to enjoy a healthy and productive mulberry tree for years to come, nailing the basics of care is critical. Be sure to explore my comprehensive guide, Mulberry Tree Care and Maintenance, today to keep your tree going strong!
Factors Affecting Mulberry Tree Growth
While a mulberry tree has predetermined growth factors, there are other factors that contribute to its growth rate.
The tree’s planting location, variety, climate, and environmental conditions as well as the available nutrients in the soil all play into how quickly the tree will grow.
Average Mulberry Tree Growth Rate
Most mulberry trees will grow at a fast pace, growing to mature size in about 20 to 30 years. In general, they grow about 1-2 feet per season depending on the climate and growing conditions.
There are a few common mulberry varieties, namely white, black, and red mulberry trees.
When you go to the nursery, you’ll see varieties like dwarf mulberry, weeping mulberry, Hick’s Everbearing, Stubbs Everbearing, Illinois mulberry, or the Himalayan cultivar.
Of the three main varieties, the invasive white mulberry tree has the fastest growth rate, but the red and black varieties also grow quickly.
Climate & Environmental Conditions
The mulberry species are highly adaptable and can handle many conditions. Some varieties are quite hardy to cold and grow well in cooler climates. Full sun with some light shade in warm areas will keep them thriving.
The mulberry tree isn’t picky when it comes to soil type. The only thing that may negatively affect it is the oversaturation of the soil because all roots need oxygen as well.
It will go dormant in the winter, blossoming in the spring when temperatures begin to warm up.
Although mulberries are adaptable trees and do well in a variety of conditions, growing in extremes, such as full shade, depleted soil, intense sun in very hot regions, well outside its Growing Zone, etc., will negatively affect the growth rate and productivity.
Soil & Available Nutrients
While the mulberry tree isn’t picky when it comes to soil type, it does need nutrients. The consistency of the soil can be variable.
Clay, loamy, or sandy soils will do as long as they are able to absorb nutrients. In some cases, you’ll need to supplement nutrients, especially when you know you do not have fertile soil.
Since it is a fruit-producing tree, it will benefit from fruit-specific fertilizers, like this organic one.
Phosphorus and potassium are vital to flowering and fruiting, so take care to ensure your tree receives these. Nitrogen will help to grow lush foliage, which helps to produce delicious berries!
No matter what type of soil you are working with, remember that mulberry trees prefer well-drained soil and that waterlogged conditions will lead to rot.
Mulberry Tree Growth
Since mulberry trees are very adaptable, they are hardy and grow easily. Many people choose to start them from cuttings, but you can also start one from seed with some luck, but the germination rate isn’t great.
The stages of growth listed below will help you understand how you can start your own tree and track its progress no matter what age tree you have.
Germination & Early Growth
If you choose to begin your tree by germinating a seed, it is best done with many seeds since they have a low germination rate.
The seeds also need to go through cold stratification, which means they need to be kept at a temperature between 34-37 degrees Fahrenheit for 4 to 16 weeks.
Prior to cold stratifying the seeds, soak them in water, and do so repeatedly throughout the stratification process to keep them moist.
After about 1 to 2 months of germination, they will sprout and begin to grow.
Once the seeds germinate, you’ll want to plant them in nutrient-rich soil so they can begin to grow their main trunk and side shoots in the early phases of maturation.
Juvenile Growth Phase
In the early months and years of development, the tree will look different than a mature tree. It will focus the majority of its growth on the roots, but above ground, you’ll notice subtle changes as well.
The mulberry leaves will begin to enlarge in size, becoming serrated along the edges, eventually maturing into the glossy green leaves we are familiar with.
Rapid Growth Phase
After the tree’s juvenile stage, it will then begin to grow quickly because it is able to produce its own energy thanks to all those new leaves.
This leads to exponential growth, expanding to many branches covered in photosynthesizing leaves.
Once the tree reaches an age of 2 to 3 years old, the tree will produce fruit every summer (unless it is a male, in which case it will always be fruitless).
Growth After Maturity
Once the tree reaches maturity, it will begin producing secondary growth and increasing the diameter of the branches and trunk.
It will establish and begin to grow better fruit as the years pass and the tree continues to mature.
The fruit will taste better as the tree matures because the tree will be able to produce sweeter sugars in greater amounts, leading to tastier berries.
Pruning & Best Maintenance Practices
While pruning isn’t absolutely necessary, it can help increase your crop yield and help keep the tree healthy.
Trimming a branch will cause the tree to grow two branches from that cut. Each branch has the opportunity to grow more fruit, so you potentially double fruiting amounts every time a branch is cut.
On the other hand, it is always recommended to prune away branches using the three Ds rule.
If it is Dead, Diseased, or Dying, cut it out to help keep any disease from spreading throughout the tree and keep the canopy clear of dead wood.
Pruning also helps improve air and light penetration, which is key to a healthy canopy.
Challenges & Potential Issues
The tree is easy to grow and will not require much additional care. The biggest issues you will encounter have to do with pests and animals. The sweet berries are loved by not only humans but also birds and critters!
You’ll want to watch the tree and take measures to keep them away before they find the fruit.
Covering the tree in netting and using garden remedies like sonic emitters, statue predators, and other objects (check out this deterrent pack) are your best bet at keeping your fruit safe for you to enjoy!
Where Is the Best Place To Plant a Mulberry Tree?
Mulberry trees can grow fairly big, so do not plant one close to your house or where it will overhang driveways or sidewalks as the fruit drop is messy.
Choose a location with plenty of room for growth and with full sun to partial shade and moderately rich soil, being sure to avoid frost pockets.
How Long Do Mulberry Trees Take To Produce Fruit?
A mulberry tree will begin to produce fruit 2 to 3 years after planting. The crop will be more abundant and the fruit will become tastier and sweeter after several more years.
A mulberry tree is easy to grow, but they do grow quickly and can make a mess during the fruiting season, so carefully select an appropriate location before planting.
You’ll be amazed at how fast your tree grows and how many berries can be produced in a single season. Take care of your tree, and you’ll be rewarded for years to come.
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