Mulberry    Trees

Mulberry Tree - Vegetative propagation

Mulberry trees can be propagated vegetatively.

While not such experts at vegetative propagation as their relatives in the fig family, mulberries show natural tendencies to lay their branches on the ground, in the hope that they will take root.

They also have another strategy, which is relatively unusual for a tree: mulberry trees seem to like to fall over.

Falling over is a risky strategy for a tree - since its leaves may no longer be in the light and they are more exposed to ground-based predators.

However, mulberries often develop multiple trunks - so losing one is not normally fatal - and may pay off.

Multiple trunks
Multiple trunks

The trunks often split near the base of the tree, and then rest along the ground, while remaining attached to the tree at one end.

Split trunk
Split trunk

Trunks lying on the ground put down roots, resist the forces of decay - and often do fine.

Horizontal trunk lying on the ground

Because of this tendency to lie on the ground, many people prop up elderly trees, to prevent this from happening.

Propped up
Many props

As a result of this tendency of branches to take root, mulberry trees may be propagated by cuttings.

Cuttings in water

Cuttings should ideally be taken around February. Large cuttings are more likely to strike. Soak for a few weeks, and then plant deeply. Exposed twigs may be wrapped with moss to prevent evaporation.

Use of vermiculite and anti-fungal rooting powders may help.

I speculate that strategic amputation may also help the cutting to concentrate its resources where they will be most useful.

My cutting propagation attempts have not been very successful so far. I have only one confirmed strike, which came from the decapitated head of one of my own seedlings.

Morus Alba shows signs of being more easily propagated by cuttings than Morus Nigra.

Layering is also possible. Burying existing branches is likely to work best - but moss-wrapping branches above the ground before severing may also be possible.

I have now tried layering. I haven't had any successes so far. Vegetative propagation of black mulberries is not a trivial exercise.

I may experiment with partly-burying existing seedlings, so more than one branch emerges from the ground - followed by division the following year.

Tim Tyler | Contact |