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How to Prune Wild Cherry Trees

By Kelly Shetsky ; Updated September 21, 2017

Wild cherry trees (Prunus serotina) are fast-growing deciduous trees which can reach heights of 50 to 80 feet. As long as they grow in a sunny spot, they are versatile and do well in various types of soil. Small white flowers bloom in early spring, followed by reddish-black berries that are edible. Prune wild cherry trees to improve their appearance and make them healthier.

Prune wild cherry trees in the late winter or early spring, before the fruit buds.

Use sharp pruning tools because they will make the smallest cut possible. Wild cherry trees can heal from small wounds.

Climb a ladder to get a better idea of the condition of branches and limbs on the inside canopy of the tree. Remove a few from the middle to allow sunlight and air circulation. Cut them at the V-shaped connection to the main trunk of the tree.

Cut down shoots that grow from the ground, next to the main trunk of the wild cherry tree, with clippers. They are called water sprouts because they will take nutrition and moisture from the blossoms and leaves.

Remove dead, diseased or weak limbs with a pruning saw. Make the cut at the point (or node) where the damaged limb meets with a healthy one.

Rub alcohol or an antiseptic on pruning tools when removing diseased, damaged or dead branches. This will ensure they are clean between each cut and lessen the likelihood of spreading disease.

Prune wild cherry tree limbs that are growing at an angle smaller than 60 degrees. These may be too weak to withstand the weight of fruit.


Things You Will Need

  • Clippers
  • Loppers
  • Pruning saw


  • Wear gloves for safety.

About the Author


Based in New York State, Kelly Shetsky started writing in 1999. She is a broadcast journalist-turned Director of Marketing and Public Relations and has experience researching, writing, producing and reporting. She writes for several websites, specializing in gardening, medical, health and fitness, entertainment and travel. Shetsky has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Marist College.