I have a weeping Mulberry. This year, I noticed a lot of “baby” mulberries growing around it. I pulled one out that is about 10” tall and put it in a pot. I want to plant it. What I am wondering is: Will the babies from this plant also be small, weeping mulberries or will it revert to the original, full-sized tree?
Thank-you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners with your question.
The Weeping White Mulberry (Morus alba ‘Pendula’ or ‘Chaparral’, depending on whether it is the female or male plant) is a grafted cultivar grown on the rootstock and trunk of the species, Morus alba. In addition to producing quantities of seed (if you have a female tree that fruits), these trees do sucker to form colonies. Since your small seedling is close to the parent, it is difficult to say whether it arose from a sucker or a seed. If it is from a sucker, it is the species (Morus alba) and it will not form a weeping canopy no matter what training you attempt. If your small plant has grown from seed, it may be possible to train it, but many sources warn that it is difficult to duplicate a weeping form. The general recommendation is to buy a grafted specimen from the nursery. (See the article below.) The issue is that it is difficult to achieve the strong tall trunk with the weeping canopy from a seedling. Some gardeners seem to have had success by staking their seedling. You could give this a try. Mulberries are very fast-growing so you will see your results within a couple of years. Make sure to use a stake that is just slightly shorter than the height you hope to achieve. (I am attaching an article that describes this process.) Your seedling could be either ‘Pendula’ or ‘Chaparral’. If it is the female (‘Pendula’), the maximum height will be about 8 feet. If it is the male (‘Chaparral’) it will top out at around 15 feet. You will not be able to tell which it is for a few years. At that point fruiting will begin if it is a female plant.
A few other issues to keep in mind: Mulberries are very prolific in their seed and birds will ingest and carry viable seeds significant distances, often into wild spaces. As a result, these plants are considered invasive in many parts of North America. If your tree turns out to be female, try to gather the berries as early as possible to minimize spread of the seed. This leads to a second issue which you are probably aware of already with your original tree – the mulberries themselves can make a significant mess and can stain surfaces permanently. They are delicious, however, and if you gather them early, you can save yourself the clean-up and enjoy the berries yourself! A final warning – you do need to take care about your planting location. Mulberries have shallow rooting systems that can cause damage to driveways and other paved surfaces as the trees grow so you want to make sure your seedling is planted away from any hardscape on your property.
As well as the articles on propagation and staking, I am including a link to an article on pruning a weeping mulberry. Starting this process early will produce a much better looking tree.
Good luck with your seedling experiment!
September 4, 2021