How to Prune a Fruitless Mulberry

Overview

Fruitless mulberry trees are large shade trees commonly planted along streets and boulevards. Several species of this deciduous tree exist in the genus Morus. All of them thrive best in areas that have long, hot summers. The fruitless mulberry needs to be pollarded, or severely pruned, almost every year. If you miss one year, the tree will be fine, but when you prune it the next winter during its dormant period, the branches will be much larger than the year before, adding to the difficulty of pruning.

Pruning a Fruitless Mulberry

Step 1

Prune a fruitless mulberry by yourself if it is a manageable size and the branches are fairly small. A good, sturdy ladder will be needed and perhaps a chain saw to cut the branches back to the trunk.

Step 2

Train young trees in early spring by cutting off their top branches. This is the only time that topping the fruitless mulberry will be necessary. Always cut close to the branch collar without cutting into the trunk.

Step 3

Cut all the branches of older trees above their branch collars near the main trunk.

Step 4

Smear pruning tar on all cuts. Although this step is not mandatory, some experts believe this practice can harm the tree by sealing in diseases that might be present.

Step 5

Prune the fruitless mulberry tree only in the winter.

Tips and Warnings

  • Failing to pollard this tree at least every two years can develop what is known as "weak crotch angles," which will cause rotting and death by letting water into the tree. Operating a chain saw while on a ladder can be dangerous, so decide if you need the help of an arborist before you begin.

Things You'll Need

  • Ladder
  • Large loppers or chainsaw
  • Protective eye ware
  • Gloves
  • Pruning tar (optional)
  • Chipper/shredder (optional)

References

  • UC Davis
  • New Mexico State University
  • Pruning tar
Keywords: fruitless mulberry, pollarding trees, gardening pruning

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hiā€˜iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Barbara wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens," and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to Big Island Weekly, Ke Ola magazine, GardenGuides.com and eHow.com. She earned her B.A. at UCSB and her M.A. from San Jose State University.