By Jackie Carroll
The problem with growing mulberry trees is the berries. They create a mess on the ground beneath the trees and stain everything they come in contact with. In addition, the birds that eat the berries disburse the seeds, and the species has become invasive in the wild. Fruitless mulberry trees (Morus alba ‘Fruitless’) are just as appealing as the fruited varieties, but without the mess or the invasive potential.
So what is a fruitless mulberry tree? A fruitless mulberry tree is an excellent choice for a medium to large shade tree in home landscapes. It grows 20 to 60 feet tall with a dense canopy as much as 45 feet wide. This handsome tree has dark green foliage in summer which turns yellow before it drops in fall.
How to Grow a Fruitless Mulberry Tree
When growing fruitless mulberry trees, you should plant the trees in full sun or partial shade. You’ll also want to plant the trees at least 6 feet from sidewalks, driveways and foundations because their strong roots can lift and crack cement and pavement.
The trees tolerate almost any type of soil, but do best in a well-drained, loamy soil.
Trees benefit from staking the first year. Young trees tend to be top-heavy and the trunks snap easily in strong winds. If the stake is left in place more than a year, it may do more harm than good.
Fruitless Mulberry Care
Growing fruitless mulberry trees is easy because the trees require very little care. Once established it withstands both drought and extended flooding, but it will grow faster if watered during dry spells.
The tree doesn’t need fertilizer until its second year. A 2-inch layer of compost in spring is ideal. Spread the compost under the canopy and a few feet beyond it. If you want to use a granular fertilizer instead, choose one with a ratio of about 3:1:1.
Pruning Fruitless Mulberry
Pruning fruitless mulberry trees is another factor of fruitless mulberry care. Mature trees seldom need pruning, but you may need to shape young trees and remove or shorten branches that droop too close to the ground.
The best time to prune mulberries is in winter after the leaves have dropped. Remove broken or diseased branches any time of year.