Weeping Cherry Trees
Published June 27th, 2010

 Weeping cherries are one of the most-requested trees in our nursery, and one of the least understood. They also have a very high failure rate; after dogwoods they are our highest warranty cost item. We like to joke that each weeping cherry is actually two trees in one, so they have twice as many problems.

What we mean is that each weeping cherry tree has two parts. The roots and trunk (called “rootstock” by nurserymen) are actually a fast-growing sweet wild cherry (usually Mazzard or Mahaleb cherry) like the ones that grow along the roadside, but trained to a single straight trunk. The weeping part or “top-graft” is either double-flowering pink Higan cherry (prunus subhirtella) or “Snow Fountains” white weeping cherry (prunus “Snofozam”). The two plants are grafted together at the top of the trunk, about five feet from the ground. The weeping section provides an umbrella effect if it is pruned regularly, or can grow 25 or 30 feet tall if not cut back.

It is common for sprouts or “suckers” to grow on the trunk or rootstock. If these are allowed to grow they will shoot straight up and take over the tree, ruining the weeping effect. There is a graft scar at the top of the trunk, just below the weeping branches. Anything that sprouts below the graft scar is wild cherry, not weeping cherry, and must be removed. This can be done at any time of year, the sooner the better.

People often ask us for “dwarf” weeping cherry trees. There is actually no such thing. Any weeping cherry tree will eventually grow to thirty feet tall and twenty feet wide if not constantly pruned back. The small weeping cherry trees you see in landscapes are probably still young; once they grow too large for the space most people remove them and start over. Clipping the tree each season can limit its size.

Young weeping cherry trees are typically top-heavy and need staking for the first year or two to keep them straight. We’ve seen many people try to prop them up by heaping dirt around the base or planting them deeper, but this will kill the tree sooner or later (most likely sooner). Planting any tree deeper than it was growing in the pot or root ball smothers it and kills it.
Over-watering is another frequent mistake with weeping cherry trees. Cherry rootstocks are actually very rugged and will tolerate dryness, but are very sensitive to excessive wetness and will drown if over-watered. A deep-root soaking (five gallons or so) once a week is usually enough to maintain newly planted weeping cherry trees. Once the trees are established they should not need watering at all.

Japanese beetles and tent caterpillars love cherry trees, weeping cherries included. Spraying in May and June with BT or fruit tree spray can prevent this problem. Another fix is applying Milky Spore under cherry trees, which will control Japanese beetle grubs quite well over a long period.

People often ask whether the weeping branches should be trimmed off before they touch the ground. Our answer is no, unless you like the “bowl around the head haircut” appearance. Once the branches touch the ground they stop growing, so you get the effect of a gorgeous fountain by not trimming them off. Anywhere you trim, weeping cherries will fork. To get the best effect you should trim within a foot or two of the top graft. This will create more shoots and lead to a thicker appearance. The best time to trim weeping cherry trees is just after they bloom in early spring.



There are 202 weekly columns.

Amur Maple Can Be a Problem Solver
Published October, 8th 2013

Asparagus Planting
Published June, 11th 2012

“Dwarf” Trees Can Grow To Be Giants
Published July, 16th 2013

“Topsoil” vs. “Potting Soil”
Published March, 3rd 2014

Ball Horticulture Trial Gardens
Published September, 9th 2012

Barnes Museum Then and Now
Published July, 16th 2012

Bermudagrass Control Timing
Published June, 30th 2014

Bermudagrass Revisited
Published June, 26th 2011

Bermudagrass: the
Published August, 1st 2010

Biltmore Estate Offers Dazzling New Bulbs
Published January, 8th 2010

Blueberries as Landscape Shrubs
Published January, 8th 2010

Books on Gardening - Our Favorites
Published December, 19th 2010

Boxwood - The Ideal Foundation Shrub
Published January, 8th 2010

Bradford Pear Trees: Good or Bad?
Published November, 12th 2013

Bulbs for Early Spring Color
Published January, 8th 2010

Bulbs From the Biltmore Estate
Published January, 8th 2010

Burning Bush - A Landscape Staple
Published January, 8th 2010

Bus Tours for 2013
Published January, 24th 2013

Cabbage - Get An Early Start
Published April, 21st 2010

CENTS Short Course 2013
Published January, 27th 2013

Christmas Tree Choices
Published December, 7th 2011

Christmas Tree Tradition
Published January, 8th 2010

Christmas With Fat Albert
Published November, 4th 2012

Cicadas - Protecting Your Trees
Published January, 8th 2010

Cincinnati Zoo Gardens
Published January, 8th 2010

Clematis - Tricks for Success
Published July, 31st 2011

Colorful Daylilies Are Tough As Nails
Published April, 22nd 2013

Composting for the Lazy
Published September, 14th 2014

Connecting Children with Nature
Published December, 16th 2012

Corn - Open Pollinated Varieties
Published June, 4th 2010

Crape Myrtle in Ohio Landscapes
Published June, 19th 2011

Crape Myrtle: A Taste of the South
Published July, 25th 2010

Crape Myrtle: A Taste of the South
Published January, 8th 2010

Creeping Phlox
Published April, 24th 2011

Deer Control Starts in September
Published August, 25th 2014

Deer Damage Treatment
Published December, 10th 2012

Deer Deterrent Breakthrough
Published June, 29th 2014

Design - Clothes Before Jewelry
Published January, 8th 2010

Design - Eliminating “Stupid Grass”
Published September, 11th 2011

Design - Hate Your Landscaping?
Published August, 11th 2014

Design - Planning for Practicality
Published September, 11th 2011

Design for the Future
Published November, 4th 2014

Design Homework Assignment
Published February, 14th 2011

Design: Getting Free Assistance From a Professional
Published July, 30th 2013

Dogwood Alternatives
Published March, 20th 2012

Dogwoods
Published January, 8th 2010

Drought Tolerant Plants
Published July, 12th 2010

Fall Color - Paint Box for Gardeners
Published January, 8th 2010

Fall Garden Tips
Published November, 8th 2010

Fall Housekeeping for Perennials
Published January, 8th 2010

Fall is The Best Time to Landscape
Published October, 27th 2014

Fall Vegetable Gardening
Published August, 4th 2014

Fall Vegetable Gardening Starts NOW
Published September, 4th 2013

Feng Shui and Landscaping
Published September, 1st 2014

Fertilizers: “Fast Food” vs. Slow Food
Published October, 16th 2013

Fertilizing at the Right Time
Published March, 13th 2011

Frost Damage - Preventing It
Published April, 12th 2010

Fruit Tree Pests - Controlling Them
Published January, 8th 2010

Fruit Trees - Fall Orchard Tips
Published October, 8th 2012

Fruit Trees - Spraying for Insects & Diseases
Published March, 20th 2010

Garden Clubs for All Ages
Published November, 4th 2013

Gardeners are Sick of Fast Food
Published January, 8th 2010

Gardening - Getting Satisfaction
Published February, 6th 2011

Gardening - Pass it On!
Published December, 6th 2010

Gingko, the Maidenhair Tree
Published November, 19th 2012

Good Landscaping Starts With Good Design
Published January, 8th 2010

Groundcovers Reduce Weeding and Mulching
Published January, 8th 2010

Groundcovers Reduce Weeding, Mulching and Erosion
Published May, 26th 2012

Growing Your Own Food
Published January, 8th 2010

Heirloom vs. Hybrid Vegetables
Published April, 15th 2014

HGTV Unveils Plant Collection
Published June, 18th 2013

Hiking North Country Trail
Published January, 8th 2010

Hostas Are Problem Solvers for Shade
Published August, 6th 2013

Hydrangeas Bloom All Season Long
Published June, 17th 2014

Instant Raised Beds Make Growing Food Easy
Published May, 19th 2014

Japanese Beetles
Published June, 21st 2010

Jasna Polana Part I
Published January, 1st 2009

Jasna Polana Part II
Published January, 7th 2009

Johnny Appleseed's Misunderstood Legacy
Published March, 4th 2013

Kiwi - Hardy for Home Orchards
Published July, 4th 2011

Knock-Out Roses – Pruning & Care
Published April, 7th 2014

Knock-Out Roses for Easy Color
Published June, 5th 2011

Landscaping Classes Focus on Low Maintenance
Published January, 26th 2014

Landscaping Classes for Non-gardeners
Published February, 26th 2011

Lawn Care Tips for Spring
Published April, 9th 2013

Lawn Restoration 101
Published September, 16th 2013

Lilacs - Dwarf Varieties Are Best
Published January, 8th 2010

Lilacs - Fragrance & Powdery Mildew
Published October, 20th 2014

Longwood Gardens Bus Tour
Published February, 22nd 2011

Longwood Gardens Conservatory
Published January, 21st 2011

Low Voltage Lighting Done Right
Published January, 3rd 2013

Low-Stress Landscaping
Published November, 24th 2013

Magnolias Are a Solution for Clay Soil
Published March, 31st 2014

Mail Order Plant Catalog Recycling
Published January, 8th 2010

Mail Order Plants Can Disappoint
Published January, 18th 2014

Malabar Farm & Soil Management
Published September, 30th 2014

Mole Control
Published May, 27th 2014

Mosquito Repellent Plants - Fact or Fiction?
Published June, 3rd 2013

Mulch - How to Pick the Right One
Published April, 22nd 2014

Mums: Early Planting is Best
Published August, 18th 2014

Mushroom Compost: Kryptonite for Gardens
Published April, 27th 2014

Native Plant Landscaping at Brandywine
Published September, 24th 2012

New Years Resolutions for Tough Times
Published January, 8th 2010

October Glory Maple Puts On A Show
Published January, 8th 2010

Onion Plants - The Secret to Huge Sweet Onions
Published March, 20th 2011

Onion Plants Yield Huge Sweet Onions
Published March, 4th 2012

Onions - Start Early For Success
Published March, 16th 2010

Orchard Tips for Spring
Published April, 3rd 2013

Orchards - Fall is the Time to Plant
Published September, 5th 2010

Orchards Made Easy
Published January, 8th 2010

Ornamental Grasses Make a Difference Fast
Published January, 8th 2010

OSU Arboretum has Four Seasons of Color
Published October, 16th 2011

Pansies Shrug Off Cold Weather
Published March, 10th 2013

Peonies – Planting and Care
Published June, 3rd 2014

Peppers: How Hot is HOT?
Published June, 10th 2014

Perennials -
Published January, 8th 2010

Perennials Put On a Midsummer Show
Published August, 13th 2013

Perennials vs. Annuals
Published July, 28th 2014

Philadelphia Food & Garden Tour
Published April, 15th 2011

Philadelphia Garden Tour 2012
Published February, 19th 2012

Plant Onions by St. Patrick’s Day
Published March, 11th 2014

Planting Trees Professionally
Published November, 11th 2014

Plants On Steriods
Published January, 8th 2010

Poinsettia Care
Published January, 8th 2010

Poinsettias Make a Dazzling Show
Published January, 8th 2010

Ponds - Keeping Water Clean
Published January, 8th 2010

Potato Planting Timing & Tips
Published March, 18th 2014

Preparing New Garden Beds
Published July, 22nd 2012

Preventing Deer Damage
Published January, 8th 2010

Preventing Deer Damage Part II
Published January, 8th 2010

Pruning in Late Winter
Published November, 24th 2014

Pumpkin Pie Secrets
Published September, 29th 2013

Pumpkins from Amish Family Farms
Published September, 23rd 2014

Purple Foliage Stands Out in the Landscape
Published June, 10th 2013

Raised Beds Make Gardening Easy
Published February, 25th 2014

Raised Beds without Carpentry
Published March, 24th 2014

Raising Annuals From Seed
Published March, 3rd 2013

Raspberries from Your Own Garden
Published June, 18th 2012

Raspberry Shortcake Made Easy
Published May, 7th 2014

Relish Recipe & Home Canning
Published January, 8th 2010

Retaining Walls Solve Many Landscape Problems
Published November, 15th 2014

Retaining Walls the Easy Way
Published July, 24th 2011

Roses - How to Succeed
Published January, 12th 2013

Roses - Easy Constant Color
Published January, 8th 2010

Roses - What's in a Name?
Published January, 8th 2010

Roses – The Best Shrub Rose of All
Published May, 20th 2013

Salem Academy Landscape Project
Published November, 17th 2014

Shrubs - How to Shear Them
Published November, 14th 2010

Side-Dressing Refreshes Your Vegetables and Flowers
Published July, 8th 2014

Soil - Making Soggy Dirt Fluffy
Published January, 8th 2010

Spring - Time to Play in the Dirt!
Published February, 17th 2014

Spring Feeding For Plants
Published March, 10th 2010

Spring Grove Arboretum
Published January, 8th 2010

Spring Housecleaning For Your Landscape
Published January, 8th 2010

Spring Housekeeping & Grooming Checklist
Published March, 3rd 2012

Spring Pest Prevention
Published March, 19th 2012

St. Patrick's is Onion Day
Published March, 20th 2013

Steer Clear of “Row Run” Nursery Trees
Published July, 23rd 2013

Strawberry Success Tips
Published May, 28th 2012

Strawberry Success Tips
Published April, 25th 2012

Sweet Potatoes - Timing & Tips
Published April, 29th 2012

Time to Plant Sweet Potatoes
Published May, 15th 2013

Tomaccios - Sundried Tomato Raisins
Published May, 23rd 2011

Tomato Blight - How to Avoid It
Published May, 2nd 2010

Touring Fantastic Columbus Gardens
Published August, 26th 2013

Transplanting Woody Plants Successfully
Published February, 10th 2013

Tree Planting Questions & Answers
Published October, 31st 2010

Trees - Choosing Driveway Trees
Published January, 8th 2010

Trees - Choosing the Right One
Published October, 11th 2010

Trees - Fast-growing Shade
Published August, 15th 2010

Trees - Fixing Defects I
Published November, 28th 2010

Trees - In Search Of The Dwarf
Published January, 8th 2010

Trees - Mulch Circles Are Good For Them
Published October, 1st 2012

Trees - Preventing and Treating Deer Damage
Published September, 24th 2013

Trees - Preventing Ice Damage
Published February, 9th 2014

Trees - Shade Saves Dollars
Published January, 8th 2010

Trees - Shopping For Quality
Published October, 18th 2010

Trees - Topping is Harmful
Published May, 2nd 2010

Trees - Watering in Drought
Published September, 19th 2010

Trees - What is a Red Maple Tree?
Published July, 21st 2014

Trees - Windbreak Save Energy
Published January, 8th 2010

Trees as Living Memorials
Published October, 30th 2011

Trees – ANLA Standards
Published October, 12th 2014

Trees – Fall is the Best Time to Plant Trees
Published October, 26th 2013

Trees – Planting Too Deep
Published October, 22nd 2013

Trees: Ten Favorites
Published November, 18th 2013

Vegetable Gardening 101 Class
Published January, 20th 2014

Walnut Trees Can Poison Other Plants
Published August, 29th 2010

Watering - Avoid Drowning Your Plants
Published January, 8th 2010

Watering Plants Properly
Published January, 8th 2010

Weed Control in Landscapes
Published May, 9th 2011

Weeds - Prevention & Control
Published January, 8th 2010

Weeping Cherry Trees
Published June, 27th 2010

When, Where, How and Why to Water
Published July, 15th 2014

Windbreak Plantings - How and Why
Published December, 13th 2010

Windbreak Plantings – How and Why
Published October, 14th 2012

Winter Hardiness - What Does It Mean?
Published February, 3rd 2014

Winter Protection For Roses
Published January, 8th 2010

Winter Reading For Gardeners
Published January, 8th 2010

Winterthur Enchanted Woods
Published April, 16th 2011

Winterthur Museum and Garden Tour This September
Published July, 2nd 2013

Witch Hazel Blooms in Late Winter
Published March, 6th 2011