Mulberry bushes are plants of the genus Mora. They used to be more popular than they are today and were planted for ornamental purposes or for the fruit they produced. Despite the mulberry’s decline in popularity over the past few decades, these hardy, fruit-bearing trees are beginning to come back into the limelight as many people recognize the benefits they can provide. The mulberry bush comes in a few different varieties, including black mulberries (M. nigra), red mulberries (M. rubra), and white mulberries (m. alba). There are also various hybrid strains which combine the red mulberry bush and the white mulberry bush. If you’re interested in planting a mulberry tree, the first thing you’ll want to do is select one of these cultivars. The mulberry bush can do surprisingly well in a range of soils and climates, but each one of these cultivars will do better in certain regions. For the most part, all three cultivars will prosper in any area that is not excessively cold and tend to do well in loamy soil.
Black Mulberry Tree
The black mulberry bush is the type of mulberry you’re going to want to plant if you’re interested in harvesting the fruit. The fruit of the other bushes tends to not be overly-edible. They are originally from western Asia, and are the smallest of the three main types of mulberries, reaching about 30 feet in height. Black mulberries should be planted in USDA zone 6 or warmer, and prefer rich and well-drained soil, so water regularly to avoid premature fruit drops. If you want delicious fruit and to be able to make great wine or pies, the black mulberry tree is for you.
Red Mulberry Tree
The red mulberry tree is native to North America and is used more for ornamental purposes than for the fruit it produces. Although all mulberry plants are pretty hardy, the red mulberry tree tends to be hardier than the black mulberry tree and does best in deep, rich soil. For this reason, make sure to water the soil around the tree fairly regularly. The red mulberry bush does best in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 8. They can grow to around 70 feet tall.
White Mulberry Tree
The white mulberry plant was imported to North America from China to help attract silkworms and aid in silk production. Today, like the red mulberry tree, it’s used more for ornamental purposes than for its fruit. This bush thrives in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 8. This tenacious plant can thrive in a wide variety of soils, from rich to poor, alkaline or acidic. You will want to make sure the soil is well-drained and evenly moist, however – these trees are mostly drought-resistant but still prefer the well-drained soil. They can grow to about 80 feet in height in the right conditions.
Red-White Hybrid Mulberry Tree
Since the introduction of the white mulberry tree from China, they have begun to hybridize with the native North American red mulberry tree. These bushes are popular and can produce large and edible fruit, which varies in color reflecting its shared parentage. Popular breeds include the Downing and the Illinois Everbearing. Hybrid mulberry trees can thrive in alkaline or acidic soil, and do well in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 8.
You can plant a mulberry bush pretty much all year round, but you won’t want to plant if temperatures are frigid (below 30 degrees Fahrenheit) or excessively warm (above 90 degrees). The great thing about mulberry trees is that they maintain themselves well, but you will still want to water them about twice a week to ensure that the soil is rich and well-drained.
Written by: Peter M