Propagating Mulberry

I have several varieties of mulberry scions that I was planning on grafting onto wild mulberry this spring. I have read about grafting difficulties with mulberry, especially graft flooding and it’s got me wondering.

Would I be better off grafting the scions or rooting them?

I’ve had pretty decent success rooting a few varieties of mulberries (Oscar, Tifton, IE) - though I’ve heard some varieties can be much harder to root than others. Maybe try both grafting and rooting to hedge your bet, if you have enough scion? I’ve had mulberry and fig sticks root from just a few nodes, and depending on how you graft you may have well enough left over to bud or graft with. Hope you have good luck


I grafted gerardi scions to a rather large white mulberry stump this spring… bark grafts.

Looking good so far.

And attempting to root some of those same gerrardi scions… started 3 late Feb… one expired… the other two are hanging in there. Hope they do make it… have some leaf showing now.


youve had more luck than i have. when did you graft? was the tree leafed out? i have a 5 yr. old M. alba ive been trying to graft over with no luck.

Hey @steveb4 … up this thread… I posted a pic of what my mulberry tree buds looked like… when I cut the top off to graft.

Ok… well not on this post… but on the grafting post.

Found the pic… below.

So it was just starting to bud good… a little green showing.

I cut the top off the tree 6 am… grafted it 5 pm. The sap was not flowing excessively… just seaped out a little for a short while then stopped.


ok. ill wait until my buds look like that. hopefully i get takes this time. thanks.

@steveb4 – over on the 2022 grafting thread… a few folks said that the tendency of mulberries to weep excessively seems to be location specific. It happens in some areas, but not in others.

I don’t know myself… but I had read LuckyP say that you could cut a normally weep heavy tree off, and let it weep for a period of time until it eventually stops, then graft it. It might be a day or two or more…

I cut mine off early that morning and it wept a bit but not much, it never ran or dripped down the tree or anything like that… and by 5 pm that evening, I cut it off again lower for the actual graft and it wept just a small amount, wiped it off and no more.

There has been no sign of weeping since I grafted it… probably just got lucky :slight_smile:

Found those comments…


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I now have a use for all those old tarp straps I have laying around

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@chinook … yes the tarp strap worked well.

I had parafilm rubber electrical tape and some large rubber bands… but none of those looked sufficient to do the job of tightining all that up on that 3" diameter mulberry stump. Looked around and found some tarp straps in the garage and it worked well.

Over on the 2022 grafting post… I said… you might be a redneck… if you use a tarp strap for your final wrap on a mulberry graft. :wink:


If you look at some of the YouTube videos for Texas/American bark inlay grafting of pecans on stock up to 4 inch (or more) diameter, some folks are using duct tape to wrap with… the handyman’s secret weapon… if the ladies don’t find you handsome, they should at least find you handy…
I’m gonna give DT a try this year.

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I feel like you could even fold it in half part of the way to increase its strength, but that might be over-thinking it. Always good to add a tool to the box if you are out of supplies.

I saw a guy on YouTube down in Florida doing his final wraps on larger mulberry grafts with bicycle innertube strips. Worked nicely.


im definitely going to use your technique!

I’m a little late to the party, but thought I’d throw my 2 cents in.

I’ve always found mulberry can be a little persnickety to graft. Here are a couple of things I’ve found helpful. As always, your mileage may vary.

I like rootstock to be at least somewhat awake. I don’t graft totally dormant stock as one would apples or pears. Similarly, I don’t mind if the scions are a bit farther along. If the buds are swollen and showing a bit of green, that’s a plus in my book. My reasoning is, I want the scion to wake up at the same time the stock is pushing sap, that way the whole works is ready to hit the ground running.

I prefer a side graft part way up the rootstock. The side graft lets you work with a range of scion and rootstock sizes, so there’s no need to match calipers, at least within reason. If it’s typical 1/4” or so rootstock, I’ll do a side graft roughly halfway up leaving the upper part of the rootstock, but pruning it back heavily. I like the sap to push PAST the graft Union, and continue flowing, as I’ve know mulberries to otherwise seemingly abort the top and instead push from dormant buds further down near the crown. By pruning some of the remaining stem, there are places for excess sap to weep out, which helps with flooding of the graft Union. When the scion does push, you have a ready made stake to secure the growing scion until the graft Union develops some strength.

Someone mentioned the merits of rooting vs grafting. IME, varieties vary greatly in how easily they’ll root. Many feral albas root extremely easily, akin to willows. A lot of the cultivars are at least somewhat harder, with some, like Gerardi and IE being downright hard unless you take them at just the right time. The best time (and only time for the tricky ones) is when the new growth is firm but not yet woody. Mid-July is usually about right in VT.

In a pinch, I’ve had decent luck root grafting. Get some ropey roots and cleft or whip graft ‘em right on. It’s a little tricky, because the root bark is quite different than what you find on the stem. I don’t know for sure, but my hunch is that to want the root piece a tad oversized, as the root bark is quite a bit thicker. One other trick I’ve had luck with is to graft onto a cutting of variety that is east to root. I like the contorted variety, ‘Unryu’ for this as it roots very reliably. It also makes super long ropey roots that are perfect for root grafting.

Any way you slice it, mulberry grafting is somewhat harder than gateway stuff like apples. It’s still pretty low hanging fruit (pun!) though compared to truly tricky stuff like nuts and conifers. Expect to fail some and play around with it. You’ll be pleasantly surprised sooner or later!


I was wondering if side veneer grafts might be a good option over cutting down then bark grafting, so thanks for the tips! I’m thinking of possibly grafting a few different varieties onto each of a few rootstocks. I figure side veneers would be better for branching long term. With different varieties, I can then either root them later in the summer like you mention or graft them to cuttings I started from the rootstock (assuming they make it). I imagine the cuttings won’t be ready to graft this year, but I’ll have them for future stock anyways.

Glad to hear that was helpful. When I talked about grafting directly to cuttings of easy to root varieties, I actually meant doing it all at once. It definitely CAN work if you’re sure of the ready-rooting qualities of the rootstock. Depends on how readily you have access to scion-wood. If it’s something rare you’ll only get once, don’t fool around. Then again, sometimes you’re in a pinch when you get something awesome and have nowhere to graft it. Sticking on a big nurse tree will let you grow it out for more wood. But grafting right to another cutting is a handy trick that I’ve had good luck with. I’d probably whip and tongue it and match diameters, though, in that case. If you have time and curiosity ti spare, don’t be afraid to fool around. Digging deep enough, you’ll find everyone does things differently and has their own ideas about the how and why. For some ideas and inspiration, check out ‘the Grafter’s Handbook’ sometime, reprinted by Chelsea Green a while back. It’s amazing the range of stuff you can do!

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Thanks so much for sharing your experiences! Could you please say more about how you root your summer cuttings?

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My techniques vary with my mood, motivation level, and the propensity of the variety to root. I rooted a bunch of weedy albas collected in NYC one summer. They were literally growing in the sidewalk cracks, and though I tried to dig some up, most simply ripped at the crown. They then sat under the seat of a HOT car parked on the street in August. 2-3 weeks later, they had beautiful roots on them! A friend from Turkey recounted how he had cut largish limbs from a mulberry tree in his yard to use as posts in a temporary animal enclosure. After pounding them in, nearly all rooted! Other varieties seem very difficult to root under most normal circumstances. For these, you need to optimize the conditions with sterile medium, control of humidity, and very importantly IME, proper timing. What I’ve done is to take cuttings of semi-hard first year wood in batches a week to 10 days apart starting around July 1. You’ll see that the wood goes from green and tender to brown/gray and more woody as it grows. At the tip of a given branch, you’ll find the tender green section that you’ll discard as it’s not far enough along to root well. I make cuttings of two or three nodes- depending how they fit in the container- cutting near a bud to avoid the cutting being open to the foamy pith. I remove the lower leaves including petiole and cut the top leaf quite small with scissors. I don’t generally wound the cuttings, but make a clean cut straight across and immediately dip in liquid rooting hormone. I use the type that you mix yourself in different strength. It smells like naphtha.

For easy to root varieties, I’ll just stick ‘em in some potting soil in the northeast side of my house where they’re in the shade all but the first light of day, and maybe a little near when the sun behind the trees to the west. Harder stuff gets potted in quart yogurt containers with pure vermiculite. I put clear quart soup container cloches over top w/ a couple of small vent holes. The cliche gets removed daily for 5 minutes or so to air out and inspect. Using a clear container on the bottom with paper or similar covering lets you inspect for roots visually w/o disturbing the cuttings. These make for handy little low tech passive mist pots, and they work best for me placed near a south window. Because the Sun is high, the window and cloche reflect, filter, and diffuse the sunlight while the cover keeps humidity high.


DE may be a better value than vermiculite per pound, I’m not sure.


Thank you, I’m going to try root a few this summer. I’ve had really poor takes on hardwood cuttings and I’ve tried several different varieties including those that are typically easier to root. They’ll callus very well but won’t grow past an inch or so. Since there isn’t much root development, they wither and die.