Connecticut Garden Journal: Mulberries | Connecticut Public Radio

Connecticut Garden Journal: Mulberries

Jul 11, 2019

Here we go round the mulberry bush, the mulberry bush, the mulberry bush. Here we go round the mulberry bush on a cold and frosty morning. We all know this English nursery rhyme, but ironically, the mulberry bush or tree is native to China, not England.

This productive and beautiful tree is grown around the world for its shade, sweet fruits and leaves that are used in the silkworm industry. The song was actually started by female inmates as they exercised around this bush in the prison yard.

Mulberry fruits are delicious and are higher in antioxidants than blueberries. Most people think of mulberries as a huge tree. This can be true. While some mulberries can grow 50 feet tall, there are lots of variations.

The best types for our climate are the native red mulberry and imported white mulberry hybrids. The white mulberry species was introduced in colonial times to feed the leaves to silkworms spawning a mulberry mania a few hundred years ago. That mania died out, but unfortunately the white mulberry is invasive and has escaped into the wild. So grow non-invasive hybrids instead.

Illinois Everbearing a non-invasive, self-pollinating, hardy hybrid with black fruits. It's prolific at a young age. To keep its size manageable, prune annually. For a smaller tree, try the weeping mulberry or the Dwarf Everbearing variety that can grow in a pot.

Plant mulberries in full sun on well-drained soil. Birds love the fruits. To get mulberries for yourself, cover a few lower branches with netting. There's usually so many fruits that even the birds can’t eat them all.