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Plant Manual for Illinois Everbearing Mulberry

To the left, you'll find all the topics covered in this Plant Manual. Select a topic to read its information.

Plant Description

An excellent protector tree. This variety is preferred by birds and squirrels over other fruits and berries, so it offers a great way to lure them away. It produces most of the summer to provide broad coverage. Bears extra-sweet 1½" mulberries. Tolerant of dry, poor soil. Cold-tolerant. Matures to be 35' tall. Ripens in mid June through August. Self-pollinating.

Acclimate

Plants grown in a greenhouse must be acclimated carefully before planting or placing them outdoors. This is especially true in hot or sunny locations. Many species should never be grown in full sun. Before purchasing a plant, learn about its sun requirements. Knowing the plants requirements can avoid any damage to the plant by incorrectly giving it the wrong conditions.

If your plant has been grown in a greenhouse, here are a few steps we recommend you follow:

  • After purchasing your plant, place it outside in a sheltered, shady spot or on your back porch.
  • Leave it there for 3-4 hours and gradually increase the time spent outside by 1-2 hours per day.
  • Bring the plants back indoors each night.
  • Water it regularly to keep the plant moist.
  • Occasionally spray the leaves with water.
  • After 2-3 days, move the plants from their shady spot into morning sun, returning them to the shade in the afternoon.
  • After 7 days, the plants should be able to handle the outdoor temperatures, if they stay around 50 degress F.
  • After 7-10 days, your plant is ready to be planted in its permanent location. Try to do this on a cloudy day and be sure to water the plant well.
  • Observe foliage daily. If any type of leaf discoloration occurs, put the plant back into filtered light and attempt this step at a later date.
  • Special care must be taken to avoid burning the leaves.

These are general guide recommendations. Some plants take longer than others to acclimate.

Planting

Successfully establishing a young fruit tree starts with your planting site and method. Once a fruit tree is established, it needs little assistance to grow and bear fruit; but you’ll want to make sure you give your trees the right foundation.

Fruit trees require fertile soil for good growth, so before you plant, check your soil pH. Contact your local County Extension Office for information about soil testing in your area, or purchase one of our digital meters for quick and accurate results. Mulberries prefer a soil pH between 5.5 and 6.5 and will grow on many soil types, as long as there is good drainage. Avoid areas that flood.

Planting Tips

  • To promote vigorous growth and quality fruit production, plant in an area that gets full sun.
  • Space your tree 30-50 feet apart depending on variety.
  • Dig a hole twice as big and deep as the roots.
  • Remove the plant from the pot; gently loosen the root ball and place in the planting hole.
  • The trees should be planted at or slightly above the same level, at which it grew in the pot or nursery row.
  • Fill the planting hole with a mix of soil and organic matter; gently tamp it in.
  • Water thoroughly to settle the roots and eliminate air pockets.
  • Do NOT fertilize at time of planting.
  • No pruning is necessary at planting time.

Fertilizing

Iron, zinc, manganese, magnesium, molybdenum, copper, and boron are minor elements that are very important to mulberries. Yet most soils are low in these. For best results, find an organic mixture that contains these elements.

Fertilizing Tips

  • When fertilizing, spread the mixture evenly under the entire canopy of the tree, avoiding a 2-inch area around the trunk.
  • Water or rake the fertilizer into the soil.
  • Do not fertilize more than twice a year, beginning in March and no later than July.

Insects and Diseases

Every tree has the future potential for disease and insect damage. Factors such as location and weather will play a part in which issues your tree encounters. If available, disease-resistant trees are the best option for easy care; and for all trees, proper maintenance (such as watering, fertilizing, pruning, spraying, weeding, and fall cleanup) can help keep most insects and diseases at bay.

Canker

Wilted leaves, bark peel, black mass of spores in infected areas with die back in tree branches.

Natural Control

  • Prune infected branches, clean pruning tools

Other Control Options

  • Consult County Extension Agent

Popcorn Disease

Fruit becomes large and extend more so than healthy fruit and has a popcorn like appearance.

Natural Control

  • Pick and discard all infested fruit, including fallen berries and debris.

Other Control Options

  • Consult County Extension Agent

Powdery Mildew

Whitish-gray powdery mold or felt like patches on buds, young leaves and twigs. Leaves may crinkle and curl upward. New shoots are stunted.

Natural Control

  • Serenade® Garden Disease Control

Cotton Root Rot

Leaves appear yellow and wilted, sudden wilt and death, rotted roots and dead leaves remain attached to the tree. By the time disease is visible, fungus has already spread through out the root system.

Control

  • Consult County Extension Agent

Pruning

Pruning is an important part of proper tree care, but many people find the task overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be! You can have confidence in knowing that not everyone will prune the exact same way (even the experts).

Pruning Tips

  • Pruning should be done when the tree is dormant, usually late winter.
  • Mulberry trees are prone to bleeding. Cuts over 2” in diameter should be avoided because they will most likely not heal. This will also leave your tree susceptible to fungi and disease.
  • Remove any diseased, broken or dead branches.
  • Use cuts to guide the shape of the tree.
  • It should only require about 5 main cuts to prune a healthy tree.
  • When cutting away a branch, always cut back to a branch that’s at least 1/3 the diameter of the branch to be cut.

Spraying

Spraying is important to the survival of your trees. To handle potential diseases and pests, reference the guidelines below to know what you should spray, and when you should use it.

Before you begin, read and follow all instructions on labels.

Natural Control

  • Serenade® Garden Disease Control for powdery mildew.

Watering

Mulberry trees are drought-tolerant once established, but the following guidelines should be followed to ensure their initial growth and fruit production.

General Guidelines

  • Mulberry trees should receive at least 1 inch of water each week for optimal growth and fruit production. If you receive this amount of rainfall in your area each week, you won’t need to use the hose.
  • During dry spells, fruit may drop prematurely if irrigation is insufficient. Be sure to soak the entire root system deeply to avoid this. The best way to do this is to let your garden hose trickle slowly. This gives the water a chance to soak in instead of running off. You can also use a soaker hose to water several trees at once.

Harvesting

Are you ready to enjoy delicious homegrown fruit? Harvest is the time to enjoy the results of your hard work. Keep a few things in consideration as you reap the fruits of your labor: the best time to pick the fruit from your tree, and how to store the fruit.

When to Harvest

Harvest season begins mid-June thru August. Fruit will be large, sweet and black when fully ripe. You can hand pick or lay a sheet or tarp under the mulberry tree and shake the branch gently. Ripe berries will fall onto the sheet or tarp. Do not layer too deep in your picking container or you will crush the berries on the bottom.

Annual average yield per tree 10 bushels, 15-20 pounds at age 10.

Storage

Berries will keep in the refrigerator unwashed in a covered container for several days. You can freeze for later use by washing the berries then pat dry and pack them in freeze bags. Can be stored frozen for several months.


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Which option is best for me?

Bare-root Trees

Trees that are shipped without soil to ensure good contact with soil in your yard. When shipped, they are about 3-4' tall with 3/8" or larger trunk diameter. When they mature, they will be one of three sizes*:

Dwarf

Matures to be about 8-10' tall and wide. Provides an abundance of full-size fruit.

Semi-Dwarf

Matures to be about 12-15' tall and wide. Gives maximum fruit yield per square foot.

Standard

Matures to be about 15-25' tall and 20' wide. A multi-purpose fruit and shade tree.

Stark Supreme Tree®

Top-grade, bare-root trees that give you a head start on growing. When shipped, they are about 4-5' tall with 5/8" or larger trunk diameter.

EZ Start® Potted Trees

Trees in bottomless pots that allow some roots to be air pruned, so that a dense mass of productive, feeder roots can grow within the pot to make transplanting easier. Mature sizes vary. When shipped, they are about 1-2' tall.

Select EZ Start® Potted Trees

Top-grade, potted trees chosen to give you a head start on growing. When shipped to you, they are about 3-4' tall.

*Tree sizes may vary by variety. See our Growing Guide for details.