The Q&A Archives: Flowering Cherry

Question: I have 4 beautiful flowering cherry trees in my front yard that I planted 2 years ago and they flower just beautifully.The problem I am having is that once they are done blooming the leaves get tons of holes in them and then fall off starting from the lower branches moving on up the tree. I was once told by an area professional that I needed to spray them in the middle of bloom and then after they are done. I don't remember what to use. Do you know? What type of bug is eating at them or is it a disease?

Answer: Cherry trees are prone to Brown Rot which is a disease that affects the blossoms and then moves to the leaves. Generally, though, the affected leaves turn brown and remain on the tree, looking rather wilted. If this is the problem, a fungicide will help control the disease. There is a beetle called Shothole Borer that can make tiny holes in the leaves, but they are also present on the trunks and limbs of trees. Inspect your tree for pinhead sized holes. An insecticide can control the Shothole Borers, but you'll need a positive identification of the pest before you apply insecticide. Finally, Fruittree Leafrollers can make holes in leaves and are particularly fond of cherry trees. The eggs hatch about the time the blossoms open. Unfortunately, the insecticides that control them are toxic to bees. It's never a good idea to spray a plant that's in bloom with a product that is lethal to bees. For a positive diagnosis, take a sample of the problem to your local Cooperative Extension office and have the area agent, or Master Gardeners look it over and make a recommendation. Contact Jan Rainsberger, Snohomish Cooperative Extension, 600 128th St. SE, Everett, WA 98208-6353. Phone (206) 338-2400.

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