What Should I Do?

Phil Williams

Additions to a Food Forest

Planting Red Mulberry Trees
Friday, November 14, 2014, 11:41 AM

Red mulberry trees are one of my favorite trees. They make fantastic additions to any permaculture garden or farm. I actually have two mature mulberry trees on my property, which is great, but I also planted half a dozen in my food forest.

Mulberry Tree

Planting Zones:

Mulberry trees in general are found in most planting zones, from the tropics to the very cold temperate. The Red Mulberry that we have here in zone 6 Pennsylvania is an unbelievably adaptable tree that can be found as far north as Canada, and as far south as Florida.

Growth Habit:

A full grown Red Mulberry can grow 30-45 feet tall, which seems tall, but it is considered a small tree.


The best part of The Red Mulberry is the excellent sweet berries that they produce. The berries mature in early summer and tend to hang around for 3 or 4 weeks. Mature trees are loaded with berries that resemble blackberries, but taste much better in my opinion. To me they taste like a sweet blackberry, but there is something different about a mulberry that is unlike any other berries that I have tried. People use the berries fresh, to make wine, pies, cobblers, and preserves.

Ripe Mulberries


Another great thing about Mulberry trees is that they really don’t have any pest problems that require any attention.

Soil Preference:

Like most plants they would love to have fertile well drained soil, but they can also handle poor soil, or just about any soil for that matter.


I think the Red Mulberry tree should be included in most permaculture sites. It truly is a multi-functional plant. The fruit, of course is of great benefit to people and wildlife. The leaves can be made into a tea that can be used to treat dysentery. The leaves can be used for mulch. The tree can be used as a windbreak, or pruned to form a hedgerow. I have two planted in my chicken paddocks because the fallen fruit makes excellent chicken forage.


This is really a great tree to consider including in your permaculture projects!

~ Phil Williams

Phil Williams is a permaculture consultant and designer and creator of the website foodproduction101.com.  His website provides useful, timely information for the experienced or beginning gardener, landscaper, or permaculturalist. Phil's personal goals are to build soil, restore and regenerate degraded landscapes, grow and raise an abundance of healthy food of great variety, design and install resilient permaculture gardens in the most efficient manner possible, and teach others along the way.

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Thetallestmanonearth's picture
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 28 2013
Posts: 324
Awesome Phil!  I'm learning

Awesome Phil!  I'm learning to grow trees from seed and cuttings and hoping to take a class on grafting soon.  What's the best way to propagate mulberries?

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 13 2009
Posts: 1988
I second that

Thanks for pointing out red mulberries as a great thing to plant. One fact I'd like to add is that they grow quickly, in my experience. We planted a one-foot-tall bareroot sapling five years ago. It took off like a rocket. and is now 20-ft tall, shading the south side of out house in the hot summer. We harvested an incredible amount of mulberries in the 3rd year, and subsequent years were even better.

Phil Williams's picture
Phil Williams
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 14 2009
Posts: 345
Growing Mulberries from Seed


You can grow bare root like Wendy did, or from cuttings, or from seed. I like to grow them from seed because it is so easy. Many tree and shrub seeds require special preparation to get them to germinate, but red mulberries can simply be planted in a good seed bed in the fall, and they should germinate in the spring. If you go to Sheffield Tree Seed, they have the exact depth.

I wrote an article recently on the benefits of direct seeding trees and shrubs, which also includes a list of some other useful plants that can be planted in Fall.

Thanks Wendy for the info. Your tree sounds awesome, the only big one I have is inconvenient for picking. I do have twenty or thirty small ones. I hope mine grow as fast as yours did.


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