Some of the season’s prettiest trees are blooming, presenting a contrast in pruning styles.
Left alone, spring-flowering trees like weeping cherry develop long thin branches that arch and cascade downward.
Some people shorten the whip-like branches because of space constraints or personal taste, making the effect more compact, like a mushroom.
Tom Fernandez, professor of horticulture at Michigan State University, shared in an e-mail some background on weeping trees:
Most weeping trees are grafted, with a straight trunk, the rootstock, and a weeping form or scion on top. On a mature tree, the graft union is usually about 5 feet above the soil level. The tree’s bark often looks different above and below the graft union.
In late winter, Fernandez says that maintenance pruning on weeping trees is usually done while they are dormant.
But weeping cherry trees should be pruned in summer because they’re susceptible to a disease called silver leaf if pruned while dormant.
When pruning weeping trees, remove dead or diseased branches as well as any branches that rub another. Remove suckers or sprouts growing out of the rootstock.
Straight and upright branches are probably coming from the rootstock, and they should also be removed too.
If it’s necessary to prune and you want to preserve the long weeping shape, cut back the branches to where they originate on the parent branch or trunk. Or, to go fully stubby, shorten branches back to a side bud.
“It is better to prune a small amount every year than wait several years until the plant is a mess and make a lot of cuts in a single year,” Fernandez says.
That also ensures flowers will enjoy since flower buds form on the previous season’s growth.
The best time to see a weeping cherry tree in spring is when its pendant branches are covered in pink or white flowers.
This tree is a beautiful specimen tree that will attract attention on front lawns. Some many cultivars and species offer different sizes.
They range from dwarfs of 8 feet (2 m) to spreading canopies with giants of 40 feet (12 m).
Tips for Growing Weeping Cherry
It is a smart idea to learn about weeping cherry growing tips if you’re considering planting them in your landscape.
Although weeping cherries thrive in full sunlight, they can also bloom in light shade. For weeping cherry care, it is important to have well-drained soil. This is especially important to prevent rot.
The canopy of the tree must have good air circulation. This helps to prevent diseases. When planting weeping cherry trees, it is important to consider the final size of the cultivar.
Also, make sure you plant the tree far enough away from structures and other trees, so you don’t have the temptation to reduce the branches.
The hummingbirds and butterflies that love the weeping cherry flowers will be attracted to them.
How to Plant a Weeping Cherry Tree
Although it is easy to learn how to plant a Weeping Cherry tree, proper planting is essential. Weeping cherries should be planted in a hole as deep as the root ball and at least twice as large.
To ensure that the trunk’s base is in line with the soil, place a yardstick or other tool handles over the hole. Do not add soil amendments or backfill dirt to the hole.
You want the amendments to encourage roots to stay in the hole and spread to the soil around them. To remove air pockets, fill the hole with soil. Press your foot into the soil.
Fill the hole with water to the point it is half-full. Then drain the water completely and fill the hole with soil.
Only stake the tree if it is necessary. After one year, remove these stakes.
Take Care of Weeping Cherries
Regular watering is an important part of weeping cherry tree maintenance. It would help if you watered your weeping cherry trees during dry spells.
Apply water slowly and allow the soil to absorb the water.
A 2- to 4-inch (5-10 cm) layer of organic mulch around the tree is recommended. A layer of organic mulch surrounding your tree will help retain moisture and reduce the need to water.
Just as the new leaves start to bud, fertilize the tree in spring with a slow-release fertilizer.
Compost is the best slow-release fertilizer, but commercial products are also available for flowering shrubs and trees.
Tree spikes can be very costly due to the high amount of fertilizer in each spike. They also don’t release fertilizer at an even rate. Pruning is one of the most complex aspects of caring for weeping cherry trees.
The graceful, long-lasting branches of weeping cherries are prized for their beauty. They should not be cut unless they are damaged or diseased.
No matter the season, remove diseased or damaged branches as soon you find them.
The friction created by branches rubbing against each other creates a wound open to insects and diseases.
Before removing one of its branches, it is possible to wait until winter, when the tree has been dormant.