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How to Prune Ornamental Cherry Trees

By Elton Dunn ; Updated September 21, 2017
Ornamental cherry tree in bloom
cherry tree in blossom image by PHOTOFLY from Fotolia.com

Ornamental cherry trees (Prunus serrulata) bear ruffled pink blossoms in the spring, making them an attractive landscape tree. While elegant, these trees are short-lived, primarily due to pest and disease damage. Excess pruning stresses the ornamental cherry, rendering it more susceptible to diseases. Prune your ornamental cherry sparingly and with the goal of removing unhealthy wood. The best time to prune is in the late spring or early summer, after your ornamental cherry finishes blooming for the season.

Mix a solution of 1 part bleach and 10 parts water in a bucket. Place your pruning tools in the bucket.

Prune off the dead, diseased and damaged wood at its base, cutting off the limb without cutting into the trunk. Dip the pruning tools into the bleach solution to sanitize them between cuts to prevent spreading disease to healthy parts of the tree.

Cut off branches that cross against each other, since their rubbing will lead to wood damage. Cut low-growing branches that impede movement under the tree or branches that slope downward.

Trim back long branches using anvil pruners to control the size of the cherry tree, if desired.


Things You Will Need

  • Bleach
  • Bucket
  • Anvil pruners
  • Lopping shears


  • Dead branches feel brittle. Diseased and damaged branches are wounded, broken, scarred, discolored or physically deformed.
  • Use anvil pruners for small cuts and lopping shears for those larger than 3/4-inch in diameter.

About the Author


A successful website writer since 1998, Elton Dunn has demonstrated experience with technology, information retrieval, usability and user experience, social media, cloud computing, and small business needs. Dunn holds a degree from UCSF and formerly worked as professional chef. Dunn has ghostwritten thousands of blog posts, newsletter articles, website copy, press releases and product descriptions. He specializes in developing informational articles on topics including food, nutrition, fitness, health and pets.