Dwarf Mulberry – An Error

20 Sep

My dwarf black mulberry tree is planted in the ground at the side of my front yard. I planted a number of my fruit trees there in March 2011 – it was a hasty decision brought about by the theft of a number of my trees from pots.

All of these trees are dwarf, but what I didn’t realise when I planted them out is that dwarf is a relative term, and that a dwarf of one tree may end up much bigger than the dwarf of another.

This brings me to my dwarf mulberry. You can see here that it has grown way beyond the proportion of the other trees.

It has been pruned heavily many times, but comes back with a vengeance and fruits prolifically again. The trunk has gone from the tiny stick it was 15 months ago to a monster trunk that gets fatter daily.

At the moment it is carrying a heavy load of fruit

And it is ripening at the moment

The nursery I bought it from said that I could keep it pruned, but I realise now that while it’s growing in the ground I am not going to be able to sufficiently contain its growth. It is going to overwhelm everything around it, and become more unwieldy every day.

So I realise that it has to come out – back into a large pot. But the question is when?

Ideally, I would move a mulberry in winter during dormancy. The problem is that I’m sure the root system is already getting large, I don’t want to wait until then and find that I can’t get it out of the ground.

I think I’m going to wait until this current crop ripens then attempt my transplant. If any fruit tree can survive such a violent operation, I reckon it’s a mulberry.

Do you think I’m mad? Got any tips/suggestions for me?


16 Responses to “Dwarf Mulberry – An Error”

  1. Daphne September 21, 2012 at 12:03 am #

    Mulberries can be such weeds. I’m guessing it would live through just about anything if it is like the mulberries here. Good luck.

  2. Lilian September 21, 2012 at 6:09 am #

    Mine is in the ground (it’s a white mulberry) but I’ve planted it where I expect it to grow quite large. The lady I bought the cutting from says chances are it will grow to a giant of 9m. You’ll need a big pot. Seaweed emulsion is supposed to help with transplant shock. At least it will be so heavy and big in the pot that the likelihood of theft would be reduced? I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you.

    • L from 500m2 in Sydney September 21, 2012 at 11:26 am #

      Thanks Lilian. I think I’ll put it in the backyard where it will get a little less sun. Combined with the pot, that should keep it contained enough.

  3. Robyn September 21, 2012 at 10:13 am #

    Um, exactly how big is it supposed to grow? My Grandma had 2 mulberry trees. One was most certainly not a dwarf, the other might have been, but was still 4 times as big as yours… Is it going to fit a pot?

    If you move it now, it’ll probably stop fruiting as it needs to put energy into surviving the transplant. My father once moved a bottlebrush tree that was at least double the size of your mulberry, so it’s possible, but you may end up digging into your grass and maybe the roots of neighbouring fruit trees in order to get the roots out. A tree that size has probably got plenty of big, far reaching roots by now! I can’t see it fitting a pot. I’d be inclined to leave it there and move the smaller fruit trees next to it. Where exactly are you going to put a potted mulberry that size???

    Can you keep some mulberries on it for Monday? Susie was asking what a mulberry bush was the other day and I said you had one, but I don’t think she remembers the last time it was fruiting….

    • L from 500m2 in Sydney September 21, 2012 at 11:23 am #

      Well normal sized mulberries grow huge – I used to climb the neighbours’ one when I was a kid. You are supposed to be able to keep this one to 3 metres with pruning, but I guess you can keep a tree any size if you cut it back enough! It will fit in a pot – a large pot, perhaps 75cm in diameter- but it’ll fit. It probably won’t grow much bigger than it currently is if I do, which is the plan.

      I’m not going to move it before the current flush of fruit ripens, which won’t be for at least a couple of weeks. I don’t imagine that I’ll get all the roots out. I’ll just take what I can access within a reasonable space and cut the rest off and leave them in the ground. I need to fit the root ball in the pot after all! 🙂

      No worries about the fruit – there will be some ripe for her.

      • Robyn September 21, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

        3 metres is still pretty big! I reckon my Grandma’s smaller mulberry was about that size (half as big as her big one) but then maybe it was just a much younger version of the big one? But putting it in a pot will most definitely stop it from growing too big. I’ve no idea what mulberry roots are like though… They might destroy any pot you put it in! I wonder how the kids would go at pruning… Let them loose on it and that’ll keep it down to size! 😛

  4. veggiegobbler September 21, 2012 at 5:32 pm #

    I have no idea when to move it. But my neighbour has one which is enormous. We know when to come help him pick and eat them because we discover purple bird poo all over our front path and car!

  5. susan September 21, 2012 at 9:11 pm #

    Thanks for the heads up, i am going to leave mine in its pot.

  6. Meg September 29, 2012 at 5:57 pm #

    Head over to Daley’s fruits and look at their bonsai bags – you can actually plant it IN the bonsai bag IN the ground which will contain the root system and (as such) the growth as well.

    • L from 500m2 in Sydney September 29, 2012 at 8:29 pm #

      Oh Meg, if only I knew that 18 months ago when I took it out of its (Daley’s) bonsai bag! It never occurred to me to plant it bag and all. Thanks for the suggestion 🙂

  7. Trudy Bray January 16, 2013 at 5:21 pm #

    You should root prune it first . Use a spade and cut through the soil and roots all the way around. Do this before winter so it has a chance to recover. Then when it is dormant start to dig it out where you cut it and then go down and cut the roots underneath. The tree will have formed new feeder roots within the root ball. You can then put the tree in your pot. Do not leave the roots bare for even half a day but complete the transplant in one operation. Water in with some Seasol and it should be doing its thing as normal when spring comes.

    • L from 500m2 in Sydney January 17, 2013 at 9:24 pm #

      Thanks Trudy for the comments – you sound like you really know what you’re talking about! I’m pleased to report that the tree was transplanted successfully to its new home and is already setting new fruit! Gee, we have a great climate for mulberries, don’t we!

  8. Trudy Bray January 16, 2013 at 5:25 pm #

    One other thing – when you transplant into pot make sure you prune the top of the tree also because the roots will not be able to support the top.


  1. Meet the new additions « 500m2 in Sydney - September 22, 2012

    […] willing to take a risk. I can always transplant out to another location (maybe even where the mulberry currently […]

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