How to Grow Mulberry from Cuttings

How to find mulberry

Our favorite mulberry bush is in danger of eradication, so for the past year or so we have been growing mulberries from cuttings.

Our children love eating fruit straight from the trees and bushes, and while we lose wild areas every day to construction and development in our community, we still have a few areas left untouched for now. Some mulberry trees are simply too tall for great mulberry picking, but this one mulberry bush is low and spread thick like a bush.

Mulberries look similar to blackberries, but they are sweeter and juicier. They do not hold up well, which is why you will not find them in the stores, but we freeze any leftover mulberries to use in our weekly smoothies.

Wild blackberries and wild mulberries
Wild blackberries and wild mulberries

We've taken cuttings three times from the mulberry bush. We waited until after fruiting last spring to take the first cutting, and the second time was about four months after fruiting.

The third set of cuttings we took was in late winter, just as the mulberry bush had begun to push new leaves through.

How to grow mulberry from cuttings
A few of our first mulberry bushes grown from cuttings.

The mulberry bush is close to the road, so  the county cuts side branches several times a year. When we take cuttings, we simply cut off branches outside of the area, where we can see that the county has made a cut, since we know these branches will soon be removed anyway.

For the first set of cuttings, we filled a large planter found in a dumpster at a development first with branches, then with leaves and finally with composted woodchips, compost, chicken manure straight from the coop and some coquina sand from our yard all mixed at the top.

Growing mulberries from cuttings
Mulberries cuttings 

Based on our experiences, the below method has proven to be most successful.

Mulberries beginning to form
Mulberries beginning to form on a recently started cutting.

How to grow Mulberry from Cuttings:

  1. Prepare your container
  2. Water the pot well
  3. Take a mulberry cutting
  4. Cut each piece of the branch between 7 - 15 inches, making the bottom cut at an angle right before a node, stripping the branch from leaves, leaving just one or two leaves at the very top.
  5. As you prepare the cuttings leave the ready mulberry cuttings in a cup of water.
  6. Take a stick and make a hole in the dirt big enough to hide at least three nodes. Approximately 3 - 4 inches deep.
  7. Dip the bottom of the mulberry cutting in a growth hormone. We use this Garden Safe Take Root growing powder
  8. Remove the stick from the soil and place the cutting instead. 
  9. Try to leave 2 - 4 inches around each cutting, so the cuttings won't touch once they get leaves.
  10. Press down on the soil around each cutting with your hand.
  11. Water the container
  12. Cover your container with a piece of plastic, a plastic bag or a plastic umbrella from the dollar store.
  13. If using plastic or plastic bags, you can put a couple of bamboo sticks in the middle of the container to ensure the plastic does not touch the cuttings. 
  14. Make sure the plastic cannot come loose with a wind gust. We put it underneath the pot to prevent this.
  15. Water every 3 -7 days depending on weather and the size of the container.
  16. If rain is in the forecast, you can remove the cover, as rain water is healthier for the plant than treated water,  but make sure to cover up the pot as soon as it stops raining to keep the humidity high.
  17. The mulberry cuttings will soon give leaves, and even mulberries if using spring cuttings. This does not mean that the mulberry cuttings have sufficient roots. You can leave the mulberries or snap them off.
  18. Don't be tempted to check for roots, unless you're willing to sacrifice a cutting. 
  19. We recommend waiting at least 3 months, but preferably 6 - 9 months before transplanting your mulberry cuttings to their own pots for the best root development.
  20. Mulberries will grow fast as soon as they get their own pots, and it is possible to eat mulberries off your rooted mulberry cutting within a year of starting it.
  21. Mulberries like sun but will grow and fruit in part sun.
  22. Do not plant a mulberry tree over your parking space, a sidewalk, your house or patio area, or near your septic or sewer lines as mulberry drop can be messy and the roots are prolific and fast growing.
  23. The perfect location is right outside your chicken yard, so the chicken can enjoy the mulberry droppings.
  24. A cutting will be identical to its parent tree, so if you grow a mulberry cutting from a mulberry tree, keeping your new mulberry tree well pruned will be of great benefit, so it does not become a giant.

Tall mulberry tree

My daughter tried using many different methods to get her hands on the delicious mulberries growing above her, but after attempting to climb the mulberry trees and even shaking the mulberries down, she finally gave up.

Mulberry tree in Florida 9b
A mulberry tree so tall it is difficult to get the fruits.

We made a few mistakes that cost us a lot of cuttings. 

The first mistakes was letting the wind blow of the plastic cover. Cuttings like humidity while getting established, so wait at least three months before removing the cover. 

The second mistake was checking for roots too early. Don't, I repeat, do not touch that cutting.

Our daughter started her own pot of mulberry cuttings in February hoping to have cuttings ready to give away to the neighbors for Christmas. It would be a great way to save our favorite mulberry bush before some developer comes around and destroys it, plus who wouldn't love their own mulberry bush? We usually give out plants in holiday mugs from the thriftstore, but if all goes well we'll need bigger containers this year.

There are three types of mulberries in the United States: Black, red and white, but the white mulberry has come from China. Mulberries can grow as far north as zone 5 and as south as zone 9 and even 10. Take a look at this list of 26 different mulberry trees to try to identify your favorite mulberry bush or tree.

Only female mulberry trees will produce berries, they're wind pollinated and self-fertile. Some mulberry trees can grow up to 80 feet and live 100 years or more.

Mulberries beginning to form
Mulberries beginning to form

So how do you identify the female mulberry trees? Starting in March here in Florida or later up north, start looking for small mulberries developing. We have a countless number of mulberry trees in our community, but only few produce fruit and both fruit production, taste and size vary from tree to tree. Find your favorite mulberry bush or tree and cut a few branches off to get the best mulberry cuttings.

Mulberry trees drop their leaves in the winter, but they come back in the spring producing the sweetest berries, the darker the better. You can eat the berries straight from the tree, you can make jams and pie filling, and you can freeze any leftover berries and use in smoothies.

Do not eat the mulberry leaves or unripe berries as these contain a latex, which is mildly toxic to humans.

You can find more posts about growing from cuttings here or how to find free plants here.


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