We have a 15- to 18-foot Weeping Cherry tree. In the spring four years ago when we moved here it was beautiful with heavy foliage and spring blooms. It seems like it has gone downhill every year. With this spring there was hardly any folliage and no blooms. In talking with several people, they all seem to think it needs to be pruned back, but nobody knows when or how far back to prune it. We’ve searched online with no answers.
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Nancy in Kentucky: Ornamental Cherry trees are a lovely, medium-sized addition to the landscape. They provide spring blooms that are always a welcome sight after the winter months have passed. As for pruning, like all other spring flowering trees and shrubs, they should be pruned after they have finished flowering. It is important to prune younger trees to develop a branch structure and it is true that pruning can rejuvenate older trees and promote flowering. Other reasons to prune are to remove dead, diseased, or crossing branches and to maintain size. It sounds like there is something else going on with your tree since it did not have much foliage this year. Unfortunately trees that belong to the Prunus genus are generally short-lived. The Weeping Cherry (Prunus subhirtella ‘Pendula’) is no exception. They are prone to many insect and disease issues and typically live for 30 to 50 years. Do you have any idea how old your tree is? The best thing to do at this point is have a certified arborist come out and take a look at your tree. They will be able to give you specifics in terms of the health of your tree and recommendations for either pruning or removing it. If you need recommendations for a certified arborist you can contact your county Extension office and the horticulture agent should be able to give you suggestions. Hiring a certified arborist will ensure that you are getting a knowledgeable and qualified tree specialist.