Weeping Cherry trees are not really part of the weeping willow family. Both have a weeping or drooping appearance and that’s where the phrase comes from but cherry trees belong to the Prunus family while weeping willows belong to the Salix family. Both are Pendulas or weeping-type trees but that is where the similarity ends. The weeping cherry, while beautiful, is prone to a number of diseases
Weeping cherry trees thrive in most soil types including sand, clay and loam. They prefer full sun which means 8 to 10 hours a day. Weeping cherry trees need well-drained soil. If roots stand in excessive water for too long, it can create health risks. They are moderately capable of tolerating drought and dry soil conditions often increase the risk of pest or disease problems.
Risks for Weeping Cherries
Splits in bark while not fatal by themselves can provide a place for diseases caused by fungus or bacteria to enter the tree. The same is true of wounds caused by pruning of lawn mowing equipment which nicks the bark. Over-watering can promote growth of fungus and bacteria. A deficiency in soil nutrients can stress a weeping cherry tree which makes it more prone to disease development.
Types of Disease Affecting Weeping Cherries
Funguses are responsible for the majority of illness in weeping cherry trees. They can cause everything from cankers to powdery mildew and sooty mold. Other fungus diseases common to weeping cherries are black knot and blight. A serious bacterium-caused disease is X-disease, sometimes called cherry buckskin disease.
Treatment of Diseases
Removal of contaminated tissue can limit the spread. Tools used to prune the branches of diseased trees should be cleaned between each cut with bleach to prevent spreading the infection to healthy tissue. The use of fungicides may help but they are more effective as preventatives. In the case of cherry buckskin, the limbs or possibly the whole tree need to be destroyed. As the bacteria is spread by leaf-hoppers, and insecticide to control the pests will help prevent further spread.
Prevention of Disease
The best way to keep weeping cherry trees healthy is through a thorough maintenance plan. Trees should avoid becoming stressed. Water at regular intervals early in the day to avoid fostering conditions which could promote disease. Perform soil tests every 2 to 3 years and fertilize as needed to maintain soil nutrients. Use a fungicide program to prevent disease and follow the manufacturer’s instructions when applying. Monitor the weeping cherry tree’s health regularly and look for signs of insects, disease or damage. Catching symptoms early can be the difference between saving and losing the tree.
University of Florida: Weeping Higan Cherry
Clemson University: Ornamental Trees