Growing mulberry trees

As part of the legacy of Mulberry - Tree of Plenty, the team explored two different techniques for growing new mulberry trees.  

 

Experienced arborist Russell Miller took cuttings from St Margaret's House black mulberry tree and also from the black mulberry growing at Torrington Square by UCL's Bloomsbury campus. Black mulberries can be infamously difficult to propagate and unfortunately they were unsuccessful in growing new saplings by this method.

 

East London resident Lou Barnell has been successfully growing black mulberry saplings for several years in her garden from locally harvested seeds. If you are interested in trying to grow your own mulberry tree from seed you can follow her instructions:

 

  • Harvest ripe mulberry fruit in July or August.

  • Gently clean the flesh off the seeds by placing the fruit in a sieve, mash up with a fork and keep rinsing until all the flesh is off the seeds.

  • Put the seeds onto blotting paper or thick paper which has been soaked in sterilized water (you can use boiled or distilled water) then place in a sterile container, or plastic bag

  • Keep in the fridge for at least three months to create a ‘false winter.’

  • Check the seeds every two weeks to make sure there is no mould growing on the seeds. Change the blotting paper if you see any grey or red coloured mould on the seeds.

  • After at least 3 months the seeds are ready to plant.

  • Plant the seeds 1cm deep and 5cm apart into potting compost in a propagator.

  • Water and keep inside on a sunny window sill.

  • The seedlings should sprout after 1-2 months, or in the spring.

  • When they are about 5-8 cm tall, repot into an individual pot.

  • Keep indoors in a sunny position for the first 6 months and then gradually acclimatise to outside. Avoid frost.

  • Repot as necessary.

  • You should be able plant the sapling out when it is 3-5 years old.

 

As part of the new UCL East site landscaping, the team have worked with UCL Culture to identify an area for a small orchard of young mulberry specimens as part of legacy tree planting for future UCL students and staff, as well as the wider public to enjoy in years to come.