How I Grow Mulberry in a Pot
- Jul 28, 2018
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We don’t find fresh mulberries in grocery stores. Their short shelf life makes it almost impossible to sell these berries commercially. Luckily for me, I get to experience the taste of mulberries picked straight from my own mulberry “tree” at home; thanks to Gracel, a fellow gardener, who was thoughtful enough to send me a few cuttings shipped all the way from her garden in Iloilo. Mulberry trees can grow up to more than 30 feet tall when planted on the ground, definitely not an option for many urban dwellers like me. But mulberry can also be grown as a bush, and it thrives just as well in a large pot or container, perfect for my limited urban space.
Mulberry trees grow well not only in temperate zones, but also in tropical or subtropical zones, like here in the Philippines. That’s why this tree is very widespread in the Asian region. A lot of home gardeners have cultivated mulberry trees in their own backyard, whether as a full-grown tree or in a smaller container-grown version.
How to Propagate the Mulberry
To propagate the mulberry, it is best to start from a cutting (like what I did) or through grafting. Growing it from a seed is not recommended because it will take years for the seedling to reach fruit-bearing stage. There is also a chance that the seed will develop into a male tree, thus remaining fruitless forever.
To propagate from a cutting, select a healthy mature branch or stem and cut off the top part. Then cut the bottom tip of the stem diagonally, leaving at least 15 inches of the cutting. Trim all the larger mature leaves. Optionally, dip the bottom tip of the cutting in a rooting hormone/ solution. Thereafter, stick the cutting firmly into a soil-filled pot and water generously. Keep the pot in a covered area, away from direct sunlight or rains. Potting soil should be moist all the time.
When new leaves start to appear, this is a sign that the cutting has taken root. Gradually expose the pot directly to sunlight (not more than two hours in the morning for the first week). After two months, you can transfer the cutting into a larger pot.
In silk farms, mulberry trees are raised for their leaves, which are the favorite food of silk worms. The berries are actually sweet tasting, and contain essential anti-oxidants that are believed to fight a lot of diseases, including diabetes, arthritis, and even cancer. (see “15 Top Health Benefits of Mulberries” by www.hubpages.com )
Through regular pruning, the mulberry can be trained to grow as a large bush, rather than a 30-foot tree. When re-potting, start with a 5-gallon container which you can replace after 2-3 years with a bigger container, if needed. Place the container in an area that gets 6-8 hours of direct sunlight. Water deeply only when the soil feels dry.
The tree or shrub will go into a dormant stage after each harvest round. So, for continued harvests, prune the mulberry branches to encourage the plant to grow more branches. New growths will start to appear in about a week and little berries will eventually form on these new growths. Condition the soil regularly with organic fertilizer to stimulate faster development of new branches and fruits. Harvest the berries as they turn dark red or black.
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