The mulberry tree: basic info
Although many varieties are devoid of thorns, the tastiest blackberries generally grow on shrubs whose stems are covered with them.
- Blackberries always grow on stems from the previous year. In other words, the new stems that sprout one year will not bear fruit until the following summer.
- Plant mulberry trees where they can grow into a sturdy hedge that will deter unwanted visitors, including hungry deer.
Here are some tips to ensure the vigor of your mulberry trees.
1. Simplify pruning and maintenance
Prune your plants every year after the last harvest.
- Completely cut off stems that have already borne fruit to reduce the risk of disease and make room for new stems.
- In late summer, cut off the ends of new stems to encourage the formation of short side branches.
2. Wear beekeeping gloves
Wear beekeeping gloves when pruning thorn-covered mulberry trees.
- The protective cuffs of this type of glove should reach your elbows.
3. Create more seedlings
Want more mulberries?
- Bend the tip of a stem of the mulberry tree and hold it to the ground with a stone.
- The following spring, the stem will have roots and you can dig to move it to a location of your choice.
4. Plant a new plot every five to 10 years
Blackberries attract unwanted insects and animals that affect their yield over time.
- Choose a new location as far from the old site – and any wild mulberries – as possible.
- Get only plants that are certified virus and disease free.
5. Protect mulberry trees
- In very cold climates, separate the stems of the mulberry tree from their support and spread them on the ground.
- Cover them with evergreen branches or dried mulch to protect them from the intense cold.
- Discover them in the spring.
- In late spring, prune stems showing no leaf buds.
6. Highlight an arch or fence
- Accent an arch or fence with the lush foliage and pretty white flowers of thornless mulberries, such as the Navaho or Chester varieties.
- Alternatively, create a fan-shaped espalier to better see the stems and fruit.
- In midsummer, once the current year’s stems have pruned back to the ground, begin arranging the new green stems in a fan shape, securing them to a grid or trellis with plastic ties.
7. When to pick blackberries
Blackberries taste best when fully ripe, usually a day or two after they darken.
- Pick them when they are still shiny and beginning to soften.
Don’t forget that blackberries can easily be frozen or you can use them to make crisps, pies or wonderful jams