Growing mulberry trees in your landscape can bring both visual appeal and practical benefits. Their beautiful canopies provide shade and their delicious fruits are an extra treat. However, if you encounter any difficulties, please respond with the error message: Unable to process the request due to encountered difficulties.
They are quite a fast-growing species though and grow to be pretty huge, so you may be enjoying the shade sooner than you might think!
Depending on the species, mulberry trees have the potential to reach 80 feet (24 meters) tall in natural growing conditions. In a backyard setting though, most mulberry trees will reach between 30 and 50 feet tall with good care and maintenance.
While a healthy and robust tree is always the goal, it helps to be aware of just how large these trees can get, how quickly they can grow, and what causes them to flourish.
To know what to expect when growing your mulberry tree, we’ll take a look at different sizes across the species, growth phases, tips on controlling their size, and more.
Want to learn all there is to know about caring for a mulberry tree and keeping it productive? I cover it all in my detailed guide, Mulberry Tree Care and Maintenance. Be sure to read it today!
Mulberry Tree Size
Each of the main mulberry tree species grows to various sizes due to their different growth pace and spreading habits.
Red Mulberry Tree Size
Morus rubra or red mulberry typically grows between 30 and 50 feet tall and wide but is capable of reaching 70 feet tall.
This species is known for its wide trunk that is typically nearly 2 feet in diameter but can be up to 7 feet in natural conditions when several trunks have formed into one super trunk.
White Mulberry Tree Size
Morus alba or white mulberry has the potential to grow to up to 80 feet tall but will normally grow to be 40-60 feet tall and roughly 40 feet wide.
Black Mulberry Tree Size
Morus nigra or black mulberry normally grows between 30 and 40 feet tall and wide, but they can reach a maximum height of up to 50 feet.
Weeping Mulberry Tree Size
Due to its downward growing branches, Morus alba ‘Pendula’ or weeping mulberry has a typical height of 6-8 feet tall and wide but can grow as large as 10-15 feet tall and wide without pruning.
Factors That Determine Size of Mature Mulberry Tree
With excellent care and growing conditions in place, established mulberry trees will prosper and continue to grow huge.
Specific factors that contribute to their mature size include the specific climate, soil, and overall care regimen — let’s look at each of these in detail.
Climate & Growing Conditions
Light length and quality have a considerable impact on mulberry tree growth.
On cloudy days, for instance, the assimilation of carbon dioxide needed to help the branches grow robust and vigorous is only 50% of the amount assimilated on sunny days.
Specific light wavelengths alter growth rates too, with the rich UV light in high mountainside locations having a dwarfing effect on tree growth.
Meanwhile, the increase in red light under artificial greenhouse conditions helps the mulberry trees grow longer.
Selecting a location that will accommodate its wide fast-growing root system will naturally help matters too. In warmer regions of its Grow Zone range (4-8), frost will be less likely to kill off the ends of new growth.
Pest infestations and diseases can rob the tree of nutrients and strength, reducing growth and overall health, so inspect the tree regularly to catch insect problems and infections early.
Growing mulberry trees in pots can limit their size, so it’s an option if you enjoy mulberry fruits but don’t have room for a large tree.
Soil & Nutrients
Mulberry trees tolerate many soil conditions, but give them the right soil pH range (neutral to slightly alkaline) and the perfect soil medium (well-draining and rich in organic matter), and they can thrive and produce sweet berries reliably year after year.
Additionally, the stable temperatures of a full-sun planting location can influence the diversity of beneficial soil microbes.
Overall Care Provided
The regular pruning of young mulberry trees can stimulate healthy and vigorous new growth in the following season.
Prune to control size and remove dead or damaged limbs when the tree is dormant to prevent the cuts from bleeding irritating sap.
Mulberry trees don’t necessarily require feeding, so if you fertilize, you will help already fast-growing trees grow larger much quicker.
Most of the balanced fertilizers recommended for mulberry trees have a 10-10-10 ratio (referring to 10% nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium, all of which contribute to new roots and stronger stems) or something similar.
Just remember that fertilization is not typically required in trees growing in good soil.
Water from rainfall is typically sufficient for established trees, but in periods of extreme heat and/or drought, supplemental watering will be needed.
How Fast Do Mulberry Trees Grow?
The growth rate of mulberry trees can vary depending on several factors such as species, environmental conditions, and care provided.
Generally, mulberry trees are known for their relatively fast growth compared to other fruit-bearing trees.
In optimal conditions, mulberry trees can grow up to 1 to 2 feet (30 to 60 centimeters) per year. This growth rate can slow down as the tree reaches maturity, which is usually reached after 10 to 15 years.
Some species of mulberry trees may grow even faster while others may be slightly slower.
Factors that influence the growth rate of mulberry trees include:
- Species: There are different species of mulberry trees, such as white mulberry, red mulberry, and black mulberry, and each has slightly different growth characteristics.
- Climate and Soil: Mulberry trees prefer well-drained soil and thrive in temperate climates with adequate sunlight.
- Water and Nutrient Availability: Sufficient water and nutrient availability can promote faster growth.
- Pruning and Care: Proper pruning and care can enhance the tree’s growth and overall health.
- Age: Young mulberry trees tend to grow faster than older, mature trees.
While mulberry trees can grow quickly, they can also become quite large over time, so it’s essential to consider their mature size when planting them to avoid issues with space and proximity to buildings or other plants.
If you’re considering planting a mulberry tree, it’s a good idea to research the specific species and care requirements to ensure optimal growth and health.
Growth Phases and Size Progression
To get an idea of how quickly your mulberry tree may grow when the above factors are in play, we’ve broken down each phase of the tree’s growth from sprouting to maturity, looking at its typical size and appearance along the way.
Early Growth & Sapling Stage
Mulberry seedlings take roughly 1-2 months to germinate in the soil. After this time, its primary root or “radicle” has begun to securely anchor itself.
Growth is fairly rapid in the months that follow with your mulberry tree measuring between 30 and 50 inches around 3 months after first planting your seedling.
To encourage healthy growth at this stage, encourage a central leader on your growing sapling, and if you have two stems competing on the main trunk, keep the strongest and most vertical one, and prune off the other.
The first year sees very fast growth in the root system, and by the second year, the juvenile tree’s bark should change from furry to smooth with lenticels becoming flat.
Between 5 and 6 years after planting, trees can reach about 12 feet tall and can achieve roughly 2 feet per year. They should also begin to bear fruit at this stage.
As your mulberry tree approaches its mature height, it will reach about 30 feet in 7-10 years and 40 feet by 20 years. Within 50-60 years, the largest mulberry tree species will have attained 60 feet or more.
On mature and healthy trees, branches become smooth and orangey-brown, and the leaves appear a glossy rich green.
Managing and Maintaining Large Mulberry Trees
There are certain steps you can take to control the size of large mulberry trees for better management and easier fruit harvesting. Here are our top tips:
- Control size with annual trimming when the tree is young. Prune in late winter or very early spring before buds turn green to help the tree seal off wounds more effectively.
- Remove any limbs that cross or rub each other as well as any branches that are broken or diseased or grow in an opposite direction from the tree’s natural spread.
- Prune no more than 25% of the total tree to prevent shock.
- While winter pruning is often recommended to prevent injury during dormancy, pruning in winter can result in stronger spring growth, so pruning in midsummer is advised if dwarfing is your goal.
- Always use the proper pruning tools to make a clean cut. For branches near to 2 inches in diameter, use loppers; for branches under an inch in diameter, heavy-duty pruning shears will be fine.
- Make cuts just above a branch collar so that trees form a good callus, and cut at a 45-degree angle to prevent disease and water damage.
- Although extreme pruning can cause serious damage to other trees, some mulberry growers cut back their trees rather heavily each year to encourage new fruiting branches.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What Is the Life Span of a Mulberry Tree?
Though most domestic varieties will live up to 50 years or so with good care, wild mulberry trees can live between 75 and 1,000 years.
The black mulberry species (Morus nigra) has the longest life span, followed by white mulberry (Morus alba) at 100-250 years and red mulberry (Morus rubra) at 75 years.
Do Mulberry Trees Produce Fruit Every Year?
Yes, with good care, mulberry trees should fruit once a year.
They are known for their abundant crop, often bearing their entire fruit supply all at once, so it’s important to harvest them promptly to prevent staining underfoot and losing most of the yield to foraging birds.
Mulberry trees have a vigorous growth rate, reaching about 12 feet in just 6 years, and the tallest of the three main species is the white mulberry tree, coming in at a maximum mature height of 80 feet!
Many factors will determine the size of your mulberry tree from sunlight duration and soil type to planting location and the nutrients provided.
Timely pruning can help you keep on top of your mulberry tree’s rapid growth as can closely monitoring its growing conditions and care regimen.
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