Thursday, 26 April 2018

Mulberry tree from cuttings the easy way

White Mulberries (Morus alba) are one of the easiest fruiting trees to grow from cuttings.  Anyone can do it and nothing is needed other than access to a white mulberry branch and some water.

White mulberries are incredibly useful plants: they are simple to grow and high yielding, the fruit is delicious easy to pick and often very abundant, they provide great shade, they grow very fast, the leaves are edible, leaves also make a nice 'tea', they can be used as high protein fodder for livestock and silkworms, all things considered they are an amazing tree.

I have grown mulberries from cuttings a few times now, I photographed my latest effort to show how simple it was.
Mulberry tree that I grew from the cutting below

I have been told from some gardeners that to grow white mulberries need all kinds of special techniques and equipment in order to grow them from cuttings.  While this may be the case for other species of mulberry I am happy to say that this isn't true for white mulberries.  I have grown white mulberry trees from cuttings of actively growing trees in summer as well as dormant trees in winter, and both fared equally well.

In early spring (09/09/2017) I found a mulberry tree with a damaged twig, I assume it was damaged as someone brushed past it and broke it.  It was labelled as a white fruited white mulberry.  I have bought one of these before it was mislabeled, so didn't want to risk spending money on another one and having it also mislabeled.

Part of a branch had been damaged, so the tree would be no worse off from me taking that twig, so I put the twig in my pocket and took it home.  As you can see in the pictures, it was a tiny twig.
White mulberry buds opening
White Mulberry twig cutting
When I got home I put the cutting in a jar with a little water and put it on the kitchen window sill where I could top up the water easily.  A few days later the buds started to swell, they then opened.  A few weeks later tiny roots appeared.  Eventually the immature fruits dropped off (I should have removed them as soon as I saw them as they just waste the cutting's energy) and small leaves started to emerge.  Once the roots grew a little longer I planted into a pot of soil (05/11/2017).  It was that simple.

I should have planted it out a lot earlier but I kind of forgot for some time.  It is not great to let cuttings sit in water with such long roots.  Water roots and soil roots are slightly different and the cutting will need to adjust once planted in soil.  Mulberry cuttings are very forgiving and will survive this kind of poor treatment.

Mulberry with tiny roots starting to grow
Mulberry cutting with tiny roots - ready to be planted in soil now
Mulberry cutting grown in water, very easy
You can just as easily grow a mulberry cutting by planting it in soil instead of putting it in a jar of water.  I do it in water because I can see the roots and know it is alive.  Having a cutting in soil may accidentally dry out and kill any developing roots, if it is in water this problem is completely avoided.  Having the cutting in water you may not plant it in soil early enough and the water roots may get too long, so there are benefits to both methods.

When taking mulberry cuttings you don't need rooting hormones, you don't need humidity tents, you don't need bottom heat, you don't need daily misting, you don't need special lighting, you don't need to change the water daily.  All of these things may help, but the cutting will survive and grow without them.  I have never used any of these things with white mulberry cuttings and so far have enjoyed a 100% strike rate.

I simply put the cutting in a jar with some water and topped it up occasionally.  Growing white mulberry from cuttings is that simple.
Mulberry cutting - should have been planted a few weeks ago
Mulberry cutting roots
There is no magic length of mulberry cutting that should be taken.  Larger cuttings work well as they have a lot of stored energy, tiny cuttings like the one I used also survive and grow fast enough.  While my cutting was only 10 to 15 cm long, and I have heard of people having success taking cuttings that were over 6 foot long!  White mulberry trees are pretty hardy and forgiving.

my mulberry tree that grew from a tiny cutting, it is even larger now!

A larger cutting will usually provide a lot more fruit the following spring.  My little tree may fruit this coming spring, or maybe it will not quite be large enough, only time will tell.

I had planned on using this cutting as rootstock to graft my white shahtoot mulberry .  I may grow out this cutting and see if it does have white fruit.  I can always take more cuttings later to use as rootstock if I want to.

I may eventually sell rooted mulberry cuttings, if I do they will be on my for sale page.

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