Native to Japan, the weeping cherry trees are of moderate sizes. Their long drooping branches are like the weeping willow, that get covered in beautiful light pink or white blossoms in spring make them a sight to behold. Like other trees of the weeping form, weeping cherry trees provide a lot of shade under their drooping branches. Hence it is difficult to grow anything under the shade. These trees belong to the genus Prunus and grow between 20 and 40 feet tall. There are a number of varieties of this tree, the most common of which are the Shidare Yoshino, Hogan, and the snow fountain weeping cherry trees. Although these trees grow in soil with less nutrients, they are prone to a number of diseases that can mar the looks. Here are some problems that might crop up while you grow a tree of this sort, along with some tips on its proper care.
Viral and Bacterial Infections
Bacterial diseases like leaf spot and twig canker are some of the common problems you could come across. One may notice gum dripping from the canker, usually in spring and summer. The disease can be detected by the presence of black or brown spot and dull brown spots in place of the smooth bronze bark of the youngest branches. The cherry leafroll virus delays flowering in the tree and also spoils the fruits.
Weeping cherry tree suffers from fungal infestations like the red spot that causes holes in the leaves or the powdery mildew that manifests as deposits of fine white powder on the leaves or white patches on the twigs of the tree. Leaves may drop before the fall season. Silvery leaf fungus makes the leaves appear silvery. Cherry leaf spot causes dark spots on the leaves and their early loss. It is common in humid regions. The leaves may turn yellow. Brown rot causes the fruit to rot and also affects the branches and flowers of the cherry tree. Fungus on a weeping cherry tree, if detected early, can be stopped from spreading to other parts.
Insects and Pests
When the weeping cherry tree gets enough amount of water and sunlight, it is usually free from pests or fungal infections. However, under drought like conditions, it becomes an easy prey for aphids, scales, spider mites and borers. Tent caterpillars are another pest of the weeping cherry trees that gardeners should keep a look out for. Japanese beetles feed on the newly emerged leaves of the tree, in early summer. The beetles attack trees in sunny locations. They gather on the higher branches and cause significant damage to the tree. The leaves turn brown and as the beetles eat them up, only a skeleton of veins is left behind. Black knot (dark growth on the tree), gray mold, verticillium wilt, and wood rot are some other common diseases that can destroy the health and beauty of weeping cherry trees.
Controlling Pests and Diseases
Ensuring appropriate moisture content in soil is the best way to keep the tree free of pests and fungal infections. Although pesticides can be used to tackle most of the pests, there is an easy, organic way of controlling common pests like spider mites, aphids and borers, and that is using insects like pirate bugs and lady beetles. Alternately, bacillus thuringiensis (BT) can be used to get rid of spider mites.
To tackle the problem of tent caterpillars, trim the parts that bear the nests. Garden borers can be kept off the weeping cherry tree bark by either spraying the bark or applying a coat of solution made by mixing half a pound of diatomaceous earth with a tablespoon of liquid soap.
Timely pruning helps avoid bacterial and fungal infections. Affected parts of the tree should be removed periodically. Pruned parts should be burned as it helps kill the spores and fungi. Regular use of fungicides, under the guidance of an expert, helps avoid fungal infections. Viral infection generally results in the death of the plant. A dead plant can spread the virus and so it should be removed and burned. This way, you can prevent spread of infection in the nearby plants. As a safety measure, you can always use virus-free planting material.
These trees can grow in almost any soil type, but they require plenty of water. Hence plant them close to some water source like a pond or lake. They prefer a well watered soil. However, ensure that the soil does not get water clogged. Weeping cherry trees are very sensitive to water content in the soil. Soil that is too wet can destroy the health of the roots. Hence, be sure that the soil is moist and well-drained for proper growth.
Weeping cherry trees love sunlight. Also given the fact that these trees should get enough space for their branches to attain their full growth, plant these trees in large open spaces where they would get proper sunlight and enough place; so that the beauty of its flowers can be appreciated when they are in full blossom.
Pruning and trimming is important to ensure that these trees grow properly. Although it is rare, in case a new leader branch comes out from the tree, trim it to prevent nutrients being directed to that branch. Trim the tips of the hanging branches just a few inches above the ground. While pruning or trimming the tree, be careful of not injuring any part of the tree as that would leave the bark open to fungal and bacterial infections.
Weeping cherry trees are wonderful consideration for landscaping. If you are planning to include this majestic tree in his landscape design, it is important for you to know the common problems associated with this tree, and take proper care accordingly. These trees become the pride of their owner as they stand in splendor with their blossoms in full bloom during the spring season.