The Q&A Archives: Snowfountain Weeping Cherry Tree - keeps dying!!

Question: I have three similar planting areas in my yard where I have planted Snowfountain Weeping Cherry Trees. Two of the three trees are prospering. One planting area is now on its third Snowfountain. The first group (two still doing very well) were from a chain hardware store - ragged, inexpensive, yet now doing very well. I replaced the dead one (think it drowned) with a very expensive nursery bought tree. I have since replaced that tree (no idea what happened to it) with a smaller, yet still expensive nursery tree. Now this third one is dying a very quick death.

Other plants in that bed (English Ivy, Impatiens, Stargazer Lilly) are doing well. What is going on?! I need this tree in this location for my master landscaping plan. And as I mentioned, they are in very similar planting areas. I'm becoming frustrated, not to mention poor and a neighborhood laughing stock. Your thoughts are greatly appreciated!

Answer: Based on your description, I am not certain what is happening however it sounds as though it must be site-related since your other trees have done well. Maybe this will help you troubleshoot.

You mentioned that the first one drowned, so that might be an ongoing problem. Cherries need full sun and a well drained location. So if that spot is extra wet --especially during the winter, that might be the problem. If you are using an irrigation system, check to be sure it is calibrated and running correctly in that area of the garden. Is there a surface runoff pattern that would affect this spot adversely -- too wet, or possibly too dry?

There might also be something unseen underground that is causing a problem with rooting. Perhaps there is a large rock impeding the roots, or there is a different type of soil there, or something once happened to the soil in that spot such as a chemical or fertilizer spill. Perhaps there is or was a black walnut tree in that spot (or the roots of the tree) and that could be causing problems due to juglone toxicity in the soil.

Is there anything nearby that could be competing with the tree for water or nutrients or sunlight? Willows and large maples for instance send roots out over a long distance and could interfere with the new tree becoming established. Cherries need full sun to grow well, also.

Is there road salt being washed onto that location? Could there be herbicide exposure? Could there be a gas utility line with a leak?

There are many possible causes but sometimes it really takes detective work to figure out what is happening. I hope this gives you some ideas of the types of things to look for. Perhaps your local county extension would also have some suggestions. It would be helpful to them to know the symptoms the trees have shown as they declined and died, in case there is a pest problem such as borers or a disease problem carrying over in the soil. I hope you get this figured out.

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