The Q&A Archives: Weeping Cherry

Question: I planted a tree in honor of my Mom in 6/04. It did great the first few years, but this year, it appears that it has mealybugs (or something similar) on it and it didn't flower and the leaves look dull. I'm afraid I'll lost the entire tree if I don't do something quickly. What can you suggest?

Answer: Without seeing your tree, it's difficult to make a positive diagnosis. However, weeping cherries are rather prone to problems, particularly in dry soil. Here are the most common problems:

Aphids cause distortion of new growth, deposits of honeydew, and sooty mold.

Borers attack flowering cherries, particularly those under stress from dry soil or other factors. Keep trees healthy with regular fertilizer applications, and irrigation in dry weather.

Scales of several types infest prunus. Horticultural oil can be used to provide some control of overwintering stages.

Spider mites cause yellowing or stippling but they are very difficult to see. They are usually recognized only after plant symptoms are quite advanced.

A bacterium causes leaf spot and twig cankers on Cherry. Small, reddish spots dry, and drop out, giving a shot holed appearance. Defoliation can be severe when conditions favor disease development. Fertilize infected trees and prune out infected branches.

A fungus causes reddish spots which drop out leaving shot holes. Once the hole appear the leaves may drop from the tree. The disease is worse in wet weather.

Black knot causes black swellings or galls on the branches. Branches with galls should be pruned out.

Powdery mildew causes a white coating on the leaves.

Try to determine just what the problem might be - or take samples of the affected plant parts to your local nursery or cooperative extension for diagnosis. Once you know what you're dealing with, you can take steps to stop the problem. Be sure to rake up the fallen leaves this winter and remove them from the yard. If horticultural oil is recommended, apply according to label directions late this winter, before your tree leafs out.

Best wishes with your cherry tree!

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