The Q&A Archives: Yellowing Leaves On Weeping Cherry

Question: In late april, I planted a 2.5-3" dia. weeping cherry "Snow Fountain" tree on the west side of my house, 12 feet from foundation. It is about 6.5 feet tall, and is grafted. We have clay soil; I used compost in the back fill, and topped it with 4" of licorice root mulch. The tree was in full bloom at the nursery when I purchased it, and developed healthy green leaves. It sat on my lawn for about 2 weeks before planting. When planting, I loosened the burlap wrap and noticed the large main root was exposed from the surrounding dirt (possibly from lifting and moving the tree around - it was very heavy), so I packed it well with soil. It was watered well, and several times since planting, and we have had quite a bit of rain lately. Small "pods" 1/8" dia. have formed on the tree. The problem: The leaves are now turning yellow on the entire tree - it started with just a few branches, and now covers all sides. It really looks sick. We have had a few days of cooler weather (the weather has ranged from 90's in April to 50's in May). Is this a problem of too much water? Or not enough sun - the location gets about 1/2 day sun - in the morning and late afternoon, with some dappled shade mid day (there is a canopy of mature trees along the street which causes afternoon shade). The tree was $200 and I want to save it - please advise! I have not added any fertilizer or chemicals. Thanks so much for your help. Gwinn Rivera

Answer: Cherries prefer full sun all day long, but if the full brunt of the sun reaches it all morning up through noon, then that is probably sufficient. Since it is on the west side of your house, and close to the building, this may not be the case.

Yellowing can be a sign of many things, but based on your description I would suspect overwatering is a possible problem. The planting hole with amended soil may be acting like a sump and holding excess water. Typically it is actually better to loosen soil over a wide area to facilitate root growth rather than amend it and create an artificial environment separate from the native soil.

Also, it is unfortunate that the root ball was so disturbed as this can have a strong negative effect on the root system and overall well being of the tree, especially if the roots were allowed to dry out as a result of being exposed to the air. Sitting above ground outside at home, away from the nursery environment where watering is carefully monitored, can also have a negative effect on a tree. So there may be a number of factors at work here to shock the tree.

Since it is a new tree (and a nice expensive one) I would strongly suggest you contact the nursery immediately for assistance, especially if there is any type of warranty on it. They should be able to help trouble-shoot the site, the planting technique, the watering situation, and so on.

In addition, your local county extension may have some insights based on a description and foliage sample, an on- site inspection, or familiarity with the soil, location and current weather conditions.

I'm sorry I can't be more specific. Good luck with your tree.

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