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So, you’ve decided to get a Bower & Branch™ Weeping Cherry Tree. Congratulations! You’ve chosen wisely. Your tree is already on the right track.
Pruning is one area where discount tree growers take shortcuts. They prune at the wrong time of year, they don’t prune enough (they want to give the illusion that you’re getting a big, healthy tree), and they make cuts improperly (leaving their trees vulnerable to infection later).
Our growers have the patience and skill to give your Weeping Cherry the solid framework it needs to minimize problems down the road. We’ve set you up for success, and here’s what you’ll need to do to follow through in future years:
1. Remove suckers coming from the base of the tree or underground. Push the mulch aside, and with sharp pruners, cut these off as low as you can. You won’t be able to yank them out by hand—they’re stubborn little devils! And don’t try to dig them out with a shovel, or you may gouge the roots (and encourage more suckers). Remove suckers at any time of year.
2. Prune out dead or dying branches. Prune back to live wood. In winter, scratch the bark to see where live wood begins—if it’s alive, it will be green. Prune out dead branches at any time.
3. Remove “watersprouts” on the trunk of the tree. If yours is a grafted tree, you will see a swelling near the top of the trunk. Prune off any branches coming out from below that point. They won’t weep, and left unchecked, they’ll spoil the shape of your tree. Don’t leave a stub, but don’t slice into the trunk itself, either. More on this below.
Never break a branch off by hand, no matter how small. You might tear the bark.
Products used for sealing pruning cuts are a waste of money and may do more harm than good. The “branch collar”—the swollen part which held the branch to the trunk—will close the wound. Let it do its job. That’s why it’s important to not let cuts go into the trunk itself. If you cut into that swollen part, the tree will be slow to seal the wound.
Remove watersprouts at any time.
4. Prune for shaping. Trim the branches to fall six inches from the ground, or prune them shorter if you like. To maintain an umbrella form, prune out the more upright-growing branches; if you’d rather let the tree get tall, leave them in (but don’t mistake watersprouts for the real thing).
Don’t remove more than 25% of the canopy at one time.
For the fastest recovery time, prune for shaping just before, during, or immediately after flowering.
And lastly, take your time, but…
5. Have fun! If you’re not an expert arborist, don’t sweat it. Cherries are fast-growing trees. If you screw up, they’ll make lots of new branches and you can try again.
Make mistakes. Observe. Practice. Learn. Enjoy!