Information on a Weeping Cherry Tree

Overview

The weeping cherry, or Weeping Higan cherry, is a beautiful flowering deciduous tree that makes a defined statement as a specimen planting in landscape design. It is often seen in large-scale landscapes, and close to water. The weeping cherry has thin drooping/weeping branches that move gently in the softest of breezes. It is susceptible to pests and diseases when the soil is dry, according to the University of Florida Extension Service.

Tree Characteristics

The scientific name for the Weeping Higan cherry tree is Prunus subhirtella Pendula. It is hardy in zones 5 through 8. A mature tree can reach a height of from 20 to 30 feet, and a width or spread of from 15 to 25 feet, so it does require a large planting space. The crown of the weeping cherry tree is irregularly shaped and moderately dense. This is a fast-growing tree. Leaves are green throughout the growing season and turn a lovely yellow in the fall. The weeping cherry tree is known for its gorgeous light pink (nearly white) spring blossoms. The fruit of the tree is ½ inch in size and black in color (fruit is not a maintenance concern).

Site Selection

The weeping cherry should be planted in full sun and in well-drained soil. It will tolerate most soil conditions such as clay, loam, sand and acidic soils. The weeping cherry is considered to be moderately tolerant of drought conditions. Due to its size and growth rate it requires a large planting site.

Pruning and Mulching

The branches of the weeping cherry tree droop or weep, as its name suggests. These weeping branches will need to be trimmed regularly to allow access under the tree. You will also want to prune to maintain the tree's size and shape. Since the tree is moderately tolerant of drought conditions, add a 3- to 4-inch layer of mulch around the tree (out to the drip line). This will help to maintain moisture and also keep weeds down.

Pests

The weeping cherry tree is susceptible to aphids, scales, spider mites and tent caterpillars. The best defense against all of these pests is to maintain a healthy tree--stressed trees are more susceptible to insect infestation. Regular watering is essential. Aphids are generally controlled by their natural predators: ladybugs, lacewings and parasitic wasps. Scales can be controlled to some extent by applying horticultural oil when the scale is in its overwintering stage. Due to the minuscule size of the spider mite, detection can be difficult. Their presence will be apparent only after the damage is done (yellowing of the leaves). Tent caterpillars cause defoliation. Nests should be pruned out, and Bacillus thuringiensis applied when you first notice the insects, according to the University of Florida Extension Service.

Diseases

Both bacterial and fungal diseases can attack the weeping cherry. Bacterial disease causes leaf spot and twig cankers. The University of Florida Extension Service recommends that you remove the infected branches and apply fertilizer to the tree. During wet conditions the tree is susceptible to fungal disease. The leaves of the weeping cherry develop reddish spots and eventually holes in the leaves, which then fall from the tree. Weeping cherries are also susceptible to black knot. Signs of black knot are black galls on the branches of the tree. These infected branches should be cut out and destroyed.

Keywords: weeping cherry tree, plant characteristics height, site selection soil

About this Author

Paula M. Ezop’s inspirational column "Following the Spiritual Soul" appeared in "Oconee Today," a Scripps Howard publication. She has published her first book, "SPIRITUALITY for Mommies," and her children's chapter book, "The Adventures of Penelope Star," will be published by Wiggles Press. Ezop has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northeastern Illinois University and has been writing for 10 years.