Fig and Mulberry trees

Unlike most of our other fruit trees which are grafted on rootstocks, field grown and supplied bare root, fig and mulberry trees are produced from cuttings in pots. However, we only supply them with bare root trees in the dormant season. This is because we strongly believe that even pot-grown trees are best planted in the dormant season when the roots can be safely loosed before planting to avoid the tree remaining pot-bound. Click here for a guide to choosing fig and mulberry trees.

Fig trees

Fig trees are usually associated with the warm sunny climate of the Mediterranean region where they are prolific, but they can be grown very successfully in the UK. While in cooler northern regions they need to be grown in warm sheltered spots, ideally against a sunny south-facing wall or under glass, in warmer southern regions they do well even when grown in the open. Fig trees are fully hardy but severe cold can cause die-back of young shoots and kill off over-wintering embryonic fruit. They are easy to grow and trouble free requiring minimal pruning and attention. Unusually the fruit develops without fertilisation in UK conditions and pollination is therefore not issue. In addition to their delicious fruit, fig trees with their large characteristic leaves and tropical look make an attractive addition to the garden.

Mulberry trees

Mulberry trees are distant cousins of fig trees. They are long-lived and despite references in folklore to “mulberry bushes”, can grow into magnificent specimen trees. But they are very slow growing and take a very long time to reach a large size. Only the black mulberry can be grown for its fruit in the UK. The white mulberry, best known for the use of its leaves to feed silk worms, produces a very sweet fruit but requires very hot summers to do so. The black mulberry fruit has the appearance of a blackberry. It is important not to pick the fruit before it is ready. It is very sharp and almost unpalatable at the under-ripe red stage. It sweetens rapidly as it turns black and once fully ripe has a distinctive sweet sharp flavour, which arguably is one of the most delicious flavours of any fruit. It is very juicy with a dark red juice - so it is best that you do not attempt to pick mulberries wearing your best white shirt! The fruit can be eaten fresh, used for making jams or used for tarts and desserts. It keeps well frozen. The mulberry tree is easy to grow requiring little attention and minimal pruning. It is also self-fertile and a single tree will crop on its own.

  • Image to be added
    A black mulberry from Pakistan producing long berries which are two or three times the size of most other varieties
  • A historic mulberry descended directly from trees planted in 17th century at the Chelsea Physic Garden by King James I

How to choose fig and mulberry trees

Fig Trees

Fig trees are not grafted and their vigour is therefore not determined by the choice of rootstock. In UK conditions they can be rather vigorous. Restriction of their roots by lining the planting hole with slabs or planting in containers helps to keep the tree smaller and more productive. They can either be grown fan trained against a wall or in the open. A south or west facing wall is required for fan training. This has the advantage that the tree would benefit from the warm conditions against the wall. Grown in the open fig trees naturally have a bushy growth habit and a tendency to produce shoots from their base to create a multi-stem structure. They can be grown with a single clear trunk by appropriate training and removing new shoots from the base.

We supply our trees in three possible forms: fan trained trees, straight leader and bush trained trees. Fan trained fig trees have two main arms starting at almost ground level and further lateral branches developing from each arm. Straight leader trees have the leader or main stem left uncut. These are suitable for forms with a clear trunk but can also be used to create a multi-stem structure by cutting back the leader and allowing shoots to develop from the base. We usually have both one and two year straight leader trees. The one year trees are usually about 60cm (2ft) in height and have no branches. Two year trees 1.3m (4ft) in height and may have some branches depending on variety. Bush trained trees have had their centre leader cut at just above ground level. These are best suited to training in a multi-stem form.

Mulberry Trees

Mulberry trees are easy to grow and require little attention and minimal pruning. It is also self-fertile and a single tree will crop on its own. They grow best in a well drained soil and a sunny sheltered position. They are very slow growing but will grow into quite large trees over time. The trees we supply are usually about 1.8m (6ft) in height when supplied and can be expected to start producing fruit about 3 years after planting.