The starchy red mulberry or Morus rubra, as you might already know, is also known as the American mulberry or the Eastern white mulberry. Mulberry plants grow wild across the eastern parts of the US from Massachusetts to Kansas, sowing mainly seeds in the spring. Mulberry plant history travels back a very long way, actually going back centuries in some cases. But the plant’s recent revival as a culinary export has been helped by careful replanting, cultivation and protection from the deer.
A variety of climates and environments can be found in the wild. However, they thrive best in a temperate to tropical climate with well drained soil and shade to encourage the production of blooms. Growing a single crop of the leaves is what makes it unlike other plants. The shoots have a tendency to grow more than one-by-two feet per year, which makes them ideal for landscaping in borders or around a building. For a single plant, a border is perfect. As for shade, a south or west-facing slope will provide ample protection against the afternoon sun.
When properly protected from deer, the white mulberry plant thrives. They enjoy a variety of insects that destroy their leaves including but not limited to ants, wasps, silverfishes and leafhoppers. Misting is important to prevent leaf discoloration due to fungal infections. Mulberries are sold fresh at market, frozen at the plant’s peak ripeness, dried or pickled for consumption.
The bark of the white mulberry plant is a rich source of enzymes, which are necessary for the breakdown of carbohydrates. The bark also contains many vitamins, minerals, and other antioxidants that are good for your body. The white bark is so fragile that it easily breaks off, so the gardener should be careful not to damage it when she or he first starts the plant from seed. Hardening off the tough outer bark is sometimes necessary, especially if the plant has not been started from seed.
After the young canker has grown to about three to four inches in height, it may begin to produce its sugars. This is the time for cutting away some of the upper portions of the branches, which will make room for new cankers to grow. The canker process should be done carefully. The gardener should start by cutting a branch at a slant, so that the pruning cuts do not become exposed to the sugars. The gardener may want to make the canker process more difficult by pruning too close to the main trunk.
By late summer the young canker should be large enough to stand upright. Then the gardener should place the mulberry plant into the planting hole. By inserting the stem and setting the young roots securely into the soil, the gardener should be ready to begin sowing the seeds. Sowing the seeds usually takes place in early spring, after the weather has warmed up. Once the seedlings have been planted and established, the gardener can rest assured that the plant will continue to bloom, year after year, providing them with years of pleasure.