Weeping Cherry Tree Not Producing Leaves in Spring

dima0May 12, 2011

Hello. My weeping cherry tree isn't producing leaves at the lower end of the branches this spring. The leafy bits that do exist at the lower extremities are dry and brown. I have included pictures below. Can anyone tell me what is causing this and how to cure it? Thanks!

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Dan Staley

The weather. And maybe exacerbated by rootstock/scion may be too deep.

Dan

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 12:47PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

recent transplant????

where is the root flare ???

give it a little more time ... if it doesnt leaf out ... trim back to the next live bud ...

looks like what i call frost/freeze damage.. here in MI ...

ken

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 12:48PM
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dima0

Update: I planted the tree three years ago. It hasn't grown noticeably.

Ken: I had to look up the term "root flare." I'm new to all this. There's no flare to the root. Maybe b/c it's a young tree. I planted it according to the nursery's instructions. Thanks for replying.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 3:14PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

check out the link

you are welcome

ken

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 3:30PM
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Dan Staley

Maybe b/c it's a young tree

No, b/c planted too deep.

Dan

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 4:23PM
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dima0

Thanks for the advice. I'll replant so flare is at ground level. However, based on the article, this doesn't seem to be the cause of the leaves not growing. They've grown properly the last two seasons.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 5:55PM
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Dan Staley

* Posted by dan_staley 5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7 (My Page) on
Thu, May 12, 11 at 12:47

The weather. And maybe exacerbated by rootstock/scion may be too deep.

Dan

Dan

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 6:47PM
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dima0

Thank you very much for your advice.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 6:55PM
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gardengal48

Improper planting may or may not be a contributing factor - pics not clear enough for me to tell - but the tree is suffering from brown rot, a fungal disease common to many members of the Prunus family but extremely prevalent on ornamental cherries, especially here in the damp PNW. After the La Nina winter and spring we've had, it is tough to locate a flowering cherry of any type that isn't suffering from this problems to some degree. And weeping cherries seem to lead the pack!

You need to prune out as much of the infected and damaged material as possible and destroy. Sterilize your pruners after each cut. Maintain good garden sanitation, cleaning up carefully under the tree and raking and disposing of any fallen leaves throughout the season and in fall. Avoid fertilizing, or at least a high nitrogen fertilizer. Spraying with a fungicide at the appropriate time can help also.

I hate to appear too negative but your little tree may never look very good and continue to suffer from a host of problems common to flowering cherries. I'd keep a good eye out for any bacterial canker, which seems to go hand and hand with brown rot. And maybe consider replacing the tree with something that is less prone to the myriad diseases ornamental cherries, especially weeping cherries, are prone to.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 9:23PM
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dima0

Thank you for the diagnosis.

What kind of picture do you need to determine improper planting?

Do I need to prune the branches up to the highest affected leaf, which in some cases is 4 feet or more?

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 11:40AM
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Dan Staley

GG, that may or may not be the case - I can't tell from here and can't magnify the pix - but before cutting you should have OP verify by looking for sporulation-fungus on the remaining fls and lf petioles. Esp on that pic with the duct tape indication, I don't see any evidence of fungus at that resolution. Jus' sayin'.

Dan

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 1:23PM
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gardengal48

Dan, I've seen enough of this disease to diagnose it at a glance - the brown and dried-up, persistent flowers and lack of foliage are extremely characteristic. Like I said, it is endemic to flowering cherries in my area, especially after the soaking wet spring we've had.

And yes, you do need to prune back to the viable, healthy leaf growth towards the top of the branches. Now you can understand why I said your little tree will probably never look good - most weeping cherries around here look like someone took a hedge trimmer to the weeping branches all the way around the tree, just to keep this disease in check and to remove the unsightly dead-looking branch tips. By the time one is done with this, there's not much 'weeping' about the tree any longer. I could show you a half dozen just like this in my neighborhood alone and it's not bad pruning - just sick trees :-)

I would never, ever recommend planting a weeping cherry in the PNW regardless of how great a bargain it may be or how pretty it looks in bloom at the nursery. It is usually just a waste of money. And I am very cautious about recommending any other type of flowering cherry - these trees have so many issues associated with them in our climate, WSU has published an entire booklet (not a brochure, a multi-page booklet) on problems of ornamental cherries.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 4:17PM
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Dan Staley

I'm not a fan either, GG, and see so few that look good I don't recommend them ever. I'm just saying I can't see it from here and usually you can see it. I suspect its not temperature-related and instead spectacularly gray and moist weather is contributing, but you want to be 99.5% sure.

Else just cut your losses and prune at ground level & replace with less problem plant... ;o)

Dan

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 5:46PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

I can't speak to the disease problem but if GG says it's so, it's so.

But I did notice 2 things. One is that the branches ends seem to be buried in the mulch which certainly wouldn't help anything fungal. Secondly it appears to have been cut back near the ends of the branches which has caused them to bush out and lose the elegance of the weeping habit. If you need to prune a weeping tree do it to a bud higher up near the crown to maintain the habit.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2011 at 9:25AM
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dima0

Thanks to everyone for their help. I'll prune past ground level and if it doesn't get better in a few months I'll replace the tree w/something that doesn't complain about the rain in Portland as much as the people do.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 12:47PM
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