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How to Prune a Mulberry Tree

There are three types of mulberry tree: the American (red) mulberry, black mulberry and white mulberry. They are all deciduous and grow between 30 and 70 feet tall, depending on the species. Mulberries need full sun and well-drained soil to thrive. Pruning helps them keep a good shape. It also opens the tree to sunlight and air circulation, which cut down on insect infestation and nourish the tree.

Develop a main set of branches when mulberry trees are young. Choose three or four branches to form the first scaffold whorl, or set of branches. They should grow on opposite sides of the main trunk of the tree, without being too close or directly opposite each other.

Prune lateral branches (branches that grow from the mulberry tree trunk) down so that each has 6 leaves. Do this annually in July to develop growth near the main branches.

Trim off dead, disease or weak branches. They may spread disease throughout the mulberry tree. Because they are already weakened, they are likely to snap off on their own, anyway. Make the cut where the unwanted wood touches healthy wood.

Cut branches that are overcrowded in the mulberry tree's canopy. Cut off those that are crossing or rubbing against each other. The goal is to allow more sunlight into the middle of the tree.

Remove shoots that grow at the base of the mulberry tree trunk. These will grow quickly and haphazardly, sucking water and nutrients from the rest of the tree.

Tip

Prune mulberry trees while their growth is dormant to limit bleeding. This is in the late winter or very early spring. Wear gloves as protection. Use handheld pruning shears on small, thin branches and a pruning saw on the thicker branches.

Warning

Avoid heavy pruning of mulberry trees. Don't make cuts that are greater than 2 inches in diameter. They usually don't heal.

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