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Home > Care Guide > Species

White mulberry (Morus alba) Care Guide

White mulberry is a fast-growing tree with a long history of planting. It has a beautiful appearance and can be planted in the garden or on the roadside. In addition, it provides delicious fruits with nutrition, leaves for silkworm cultivation, tree trunks for wood and so on. It is not difficult to care.

Quick Care Guides

  • How much sunlight is needed to grow a white mulberry?
  • What kind of soil is needed to plant a white mulberry?
  • How much and how often should I water my white mulberry?
  • How to prune my white mulberry?

Condition Requirement

Water and Hardiness

**white mulberry is adaptable to a variety of temperature fluctuations**. At one side it grows in the subtropical humid climate of Alabama with very long summers and short winters and on the other side it is even successfully growing in Massachusetts where the temperature drops to -5 ℃ in winter and rises to 20 ℃ in summer. Another example of successful growing of white mulberry is North Alabama where it grows at 7 ℃ in winters and 27 ℃ during summer. Optimum rainfall required for its successful growing is 1 - 1.5 m whereas **it can tolerate a wide range of annual rainfall** that ranges from 29 cm in Central Arizona to 1.4 m in North Alabama.

Sunlight

White mulberry is tolerable to both light shade and bright sunlight. In the US, it is commonly found in more open conditions than the local red mulberry. It is considered that white mulberry needs 9 hours of daylight during the flowering and fruiting stages of its growth. Germination of seeds was reported high (above 90%) when exposed to indirect sunlight and fluctuating temperatures between 20 ℃ to 30 ℃.

Soil

White mulberry is well adapted to a variety of soil types and can grow on sandy soil, rich loamy soil, silt loam, and clay loam anyhow it grows best in moist, well-drained organic-rich soil for its maximum yielding abilities. It's growing in many areas due to their varying soil nature showing great tolerance. White mulberry ideally grows in the soil having pH ranges of 6.5-7 while it shows resistance to acidic soil that can be corrected with the addition of lime to bring pH in the desirable range.

Recommended Varieties

  • Morus alba 'Platanifolia' for fruit that turns pink as it matures
  • Morus alba 'Chapparal' for a weeping-type tree that has been grafted onto a standard rootstock.

Care Guide

Planting

Prepare the land by deep digging (30 cm) using plowing tool to plow and bring it to fine tilth with the cross plow of power tiller at the start of spring. Give a deep dig/plow two times in both the directions of the field. Prepare beds measuring 3 m long and 1.2 m wide. Prepare water channels (20 cm in depth and 30 cm width), followed by applying some manure in each bed. Transplanting starts in spring and continues till early summer. Mulching will help in moisture retention and stop weed growth. Watering immediately after transplanting is good favor with Mulberry.

Water

White mulberry needs good irrigation for rapid and smooth growth that helps to yield maximum biomass. Light weekly irrigation is recommended at the time of transplanting that gradually increases with increasing growth. Flowering and fruit set are considered critical stages for irrigating white mulberry. Always apply second irrigation before the previous water drains fully as the stagnation may stop plants growth.

Fertilizer

White mulberry responds well to both organic and chemical fertilizers. The need for the fertilizers increases with an increase in plant height and vegetative cover and it also depends on the fertility and type of the soil where it grows. Generally for a one-year-old plant, 20 lb of well-decomposed organic matter and 0.5 lb of Phosphorus will be a good ration.

Pruning

Pruning should be done before the onset of winter or at the start of spring. Winter pruning helps in eliminating the risk of pests and disease for the upcoming spring growth. Pruning gives a proper shape and triggers growth for the next season. Remove plants debris and un-decomposed matter from your garden or field after pruning.

Harvest

Best option to harvest white mulberry is handpicking, otherwise lay a sheet or a net trap under tree and shack to pick from the sheet.

Propagation

Stem cuttings are recommended for rapid mulberry propagation compared to its growth through seeds. During an active season, cuttings are made having 20 cm length, 1.5 cm diameter with 4-5 active buds otherwise 6-8 months old cuttings are planted keeping a plant to plant distance at 1.5 m and 91 cm between the rows. Cuttings are placed in an individual pit measuring 30 cm in depth and width with a space between the pits 90 cm.

Seasonal Precautions

Inspect your plants for any sign of pests and disease or weeds, at regular intervals. Always be prepared for any climate changes or disorder that may affect your plants. Keep on moving weeds from your field especially under the plant canopy. Irrigate white mulberry when needed. Spray against any pests and diseases following the package instructions.

Common Problems

What’s the difference between three common mulberries?

White Mulberry has its root from Asia and is one of the famous species for silkworm rearing. Black Mulberry was brought from southwest Asia to Europe for its fruit. Red Mulberry is a local variety that originated from eastern North America. Color of the fruits from all three varieties is also confusing but they differ in taste. White Mulberry is sweeter while Red & Black Mulberry has sharp bitterness combined with a sweetness that makes them more popular among the US gardeners. Black Mulberry is juicier and large in the US climate whereas White Mulberry has the longest fruit size.

What are the most popular white mulberry cultivars in the US?

Here is a list of common cultivars of White Mulberry. For a further description of the varieties, check with your local supplier. Beautiful day, Downing, Issai, Florida Giant, Kokuso, Middleton, Riviera, Tatarica, Tehama, Weeping, Sweet Lavender, Northrop and Four Seasons and many more.

Pests and Diseases

Powdery Mildew

When facing high humidity and high temperature, powdery mildew is prone to affect white mulberry. There will be white powdery substance appearing underside of the leaves first, and with the progress of the disease, some powder may turn black. You should increase plant spacing to penetrate direct sunlight when affect, and disburse spores by using overhead sprinklers. Prone off about 1/3 of branches will help reduce disease symptoms, and you should avoid overpopulation of garden plants. You could spray multi-purpose fungicide for gardens to deal with powdery mildew, and there are disease-resistant varieties of white mulberry, if possible, replace your white mulberry with resistant ones.

Leaf Spot

When the humidity is high due to rain or overwatering, white mulberry is prone to affect with leaf spots. There will be circular dark brown spots with white centers occur on the leaves. If affected, you should remove elderly matured leaves first, and remove all infected leaves and branches as well in case of severe infestations. The plant debris and weeds around the plants should be removed as well and avoid irrigation with overhead sprinklers. Always irrigate your plants in the morning to enhance evapotranspiration ratio.

Thrips

In the hot days with relative cool nights, low humidity with high temperature will make thrips easy to occur on your white mulberry. These sap sucking tiny insects having cylinder bodies found on the backside of leaves or tender shoots, generally black. The affected plants will show streaks and blotches on leaf surface resulting in yellowing and withering. You should water your plants on noticing the flare-up of thrips immediately, and work on the plants’ vigor by applying proper fertilizer. Clear plant debris and un-decomposed matter from your space.
Try to induce predators such as lady bird beetle and planting garlic and chives near white mulberry to repel thrips’ attack. Acetamiprid can be sprayed on affected plants to control thrips. Spraying should focus on tender shoots and flowers, and apply water immediately after spraying. Repeat spray after 7-10 days if the pest pressure continues. Avoid feeding silkworms with the sprayed leaves for the next three weeks, at least.

Cutworms

Mulberry cutworm occurs in the weather of low moisture and high temperature. You will find caterpillars measuring 1.3 - 1.8 cm in length having black spots on the body in the adult stage. You will find nocturnal leaf chewing and cutting in affected white mulberry. Deep soil plow and exposure to direct sunlight will prevent the attack of mulberry cutworm. Less nitrogen fertilizer application on plant foliage and clear plant debris and un-decomposed matter from your space also will reduce the harm caused by mulberry cutworm. Broadcasting granular around white mulberry stem will restrict the movement of all crawling and chewing insects.

Other Uncommon Pests or Diseases

Moreover, there are some less common pests and diseases listed below that need your attention
  • Wilt Disease
  • Root Rot
  • Bacterial Blight
White mulberry (Morus alba) White mulberry (Morus alba)
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