Prunus Royal Burgundy Problems: 25 Common Issues & Solutions

The Royal Burgundy, in the Prunus serrulate family, is a flowering, ornamental Japanese cherry. With dark crimson leaves that turn a bright red in fall and flowers that are purple centered and shoot out brilliant pink colors, it is a beautiful variety of blossoming cherry.

The 25 common issues listed below include diseases, fungi, and pests and can all usually be prevented or treated by some straightforward tactics.

For a non-toxic, family-safe, and organic fungicide, consider this product available on Amazon. You can also try home remedies, like one part milk to 10 parts water, make sure the milk is organic, as this contains the necessary bacteria which fight all sorts of fungus.

For insect pests, try EcoGarden Organic Pesticide, or, you can make your own cheap, organic and effective pesticide, try the recipes given here.

General Problems

While it can be discouraging to find things wrong with your Royal Burgundy, the good news is that most diseases and pests can easily be prevented by keeping trees happy. This means correct watering and feeding of nutrients as well as careful planting. Treatments for active pests and diseases are also usually successful.

Lack of Pollination

Because Royal Burgundy cherries are ornamental, these trees will flower autonomously; resulting fruits, however, are sporadic and unpalatable. If you are looking for sweet cherries, you want a fruiting cherry tree.

Solution

Healthy trees will produce plentiful blossoms, so read on to determine whether your tree is under threat.

Trees Exhibiting Withered Leaves

The cause of withered leaves can be numerous, including problems caused by fungi, disease, bacteria, and insects as well as nutrient deficiencies, lack or excess of water, and unfavorable weather events.

Solution

There are many potential suspects for withering leaves, and this list will provide good insight into causes and solutions. Depending on case severity and urgency to treat, take samples to local nurseries or plant experts, or even contact plant laboratories. 

Yellow Leaves

Yellowing leaves that occur during spring and summer are cause for concern and usually result from lack of sunlight, disease, an imbalance of nutrients, high temperatures, or over-watering.

Solution

While shade from growing trees, extreme weather events, and disease cannot always be helped, making sure to water only when the soil is dry an inch deep and using correct organic fertilizers like this fish and seaweed solution can often prevent yellow leaves.

Early Fruit Drop

The dropping of fruit from ornamental cherries is normal, and this should be no reason to be concerned.

Solution

It is completely normal for Royal Burgundy cherries to lose their fruit before they ripen. If fallen fruit on the ground becomes unsightly or bothersome, it can easily be raked with a fine leaf rake.

Slow Growth

Stunted or slow growth can be attributed, as most problems can, to general care like watering, sun, fertilization, or disease.

Solution

Make sure to limit excess water to roots, maintain a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight per day, and give a slow-release fertilizer for a neutral soil pH.

Most Common Diseases and Fungus Infections

There are only a handful of diseases and fungal infections that can seriously damage or kill Royal Burgundy cherries, and they are also very rare. Healthy trees, early detection, and good garden management can all minimize occurrence and effects.

Silver Leaf

Silver leaf is a type of fungus that affects leaves and branches, and while affected trees can continue living, the fungus will eventually kill too much of living tissue for the plant to survive.

Solution

Reducing stress by careful pruning during late fall or winter can minimize risks of the fungus infecting trees. Trees that already show symptoms should be pruned, sterilizing utensils between cuts to limit spread.

Powdery Mildew

Among the least concerning of all fungus issues, powdery mildew occurs with high humidity and can slightly discolor and misshape trees, but it will not kill them.

Solution

While there are some fantastic organic fungicides available, prevention is key. Make sure to prune the canopy to ensure adequate air flow and allow sunlight to enter. Affected branches should be pruned.

Blossom Wilt

Transmitted through poor rootstock and tree injuries, blossom wilt or rot is a fungal disease that affects blossoms, leaves, and small branches and can be detrimental to fruit and ornamentals alike.

Solution

Pruning of infected areas is a successful way to slow or eliminate the fungus, making sure to clean utensils thoroughly. Organic fungicide can also be used.

Rot

Similar to blossom wilt, brown rot infects blossoms in ornamentals; however, it does not usually affect leaves or branches. Caused by a mold, not fungus, crown rot refers to the rotting of the tree base and fine roots and is highly destructive.

Prevention includes buying healthy trees and minimizing stresses such as injury, excess water, wind, and shade. Affected trees can be grafted with healthy specimens as a way to override the disease.

Solution

Homemade, as well as manufactured fungicides like those mentioned above, are effective against rot.

Leaf Spot Disease

This disease varies in extremes and may stop at spots or holes in leaves, or it may continue to complete defoliation, which in rare cases will cause tree death.

Solution

Preventions at home include gathering fallen leaves and of course proper pruning. Organic fungicides can be used for this disease and should be diluted as per instructions, and applied in the evening or during cool days.

Black Knot Disease

Found in most Prunus varieties, black knot is a fungal disease that produces unsightly black growths on branches. Preventions are limited to ensuring healthy and stress-free trees.

Solution

Because of unwanted scarring, pruning growths and sanitizing tools between cuts is a good way to remedy the problem.

Cankers

Cankers represent a real danger to Royal Burgundy and other ornamental cherries, and affected areas left untreated are highly likely to kill entire branches.

Solution

Because cankers cannot form on healthy, living bark, be sure that trees are healthy, and avoid damage and cuts to stems. Treatment of cankers is effective by pruning branches which show symptoms, making sure to discard any cuttings to avoid the spreading of disease.

Blight

Drying up whole sections of leaves, branches, and affecting blossoms, blight represents a very unwelcome visitor for Royal Burgundy growers.

Solution

Pruning is your best bet when it comes to stopping and limiting the spread of the disease.

Necrotic Ringspot

This aggressive disease causes leaf discoloration and may cause blossom deformation.

Solution

Unfortunately, there is no definitive treatment for this disease, although pruning and spraying of organic fungicide may be successful in less severe cases.

Crown Gall

Mostly damaging to young trees, crown gall enters through wounds in the bark and forms large growths that can stunt plants and cause eventual rot in mature trees.

Solution

Taking care of newly planted trees is key to avoiding this disease, as is buying from dependable nurseries. Older trees can survive for years while affected; however, removal should be considered.

X-Disease

Symptoms of x-disease include deformed and discolored leaves and blossoms and may include premature leaf drop.

Solution

X-disease is not an immediate killer; however, there is also no treatment for this disease. Fortunately, it is rare, and most people will never be plagued by it. Removal of infected trees is recommended to limit the spread.

Verticillium Wilt

Yellowing leaves and withered new growth is a clue that suggests verticillium wilt. With varying effects, Royal Burgundy cherries may continue to produce overall good foliage and blossoms.

Solution

Fortunately, this fungus must be present in soil, and most home gardeners will never encounter this fungus. Solutions include improving soil and re-planting or discarding trees.

Pests

The good news for home gardeners is that ornamentals are not as attractive to some insects as fruiting trees. However there are some pests that do affect Royal Burgundy cherries and should be dealt with quickly.

Aphids

An infestation of aphids usually presents itself as crumpled leaves with a thick texture. Aphids are usually easy to spot; look for them on new shoots and on green, tender branches.

Solution

Although ornamental cherries like the Royal Burgundy are somewhat resistant, these pests can appear. Organic pesticides will usually make short work out of these critters.

Leaf Miners

Generally, leaf miners do not represent a major threat to trees and usually do not come in plague proportions. Adults are gold and brown, and their tell-tale signs are dark lines on leaves.

Solution

Effective control of this pest can be carried out by using organic pesticides.

Beetles

Unlike leaf miners, beetles can, in severe cases, defoliate an entire specimen in a short time, which makes them dangerous to most trees.

Solution

Manually removing beetles and using pheromone traps can be effective. Spraying organic pesticide in spring can also be considered in extreme cases.

Cherry Fruit Flies

Usually, fruit flies do not have a significant impact on Japanese cherries like Royal Burgundy. Neither Western, European, nor Asian fruit fly are a cause for concern regarding ornamental, blossoming cherry trees.

Solution

No course of action is necessary. Fruit flies will naturally disappear if found on Royal Burgundy cherries.

Spider Mites

Through feeding on leaf cells, spider mites cause trees to lose full capability of photosynthesis, thereby reducing the tree’s vigor and health. Not only can this pest make foliage unappealing, but it can stress the tree and leave it open to other diseases.

Solution

Mulching and growing companion plants in the garden are both prevention and solution. Oftentimes, these mites will be taken care of by natural predators.

Borers

Borers are an extremely disliked insect pest. They form girdles under the bark that can stunt growth and kill trees by cutting off water supply to branches. Pests like the peach tree borer and Pacific flathead borer are found throughout North America.

Solution

Young and stressed trees are most susceptible, and the best way to prevent this pest is by keeping healthy trees. Although pheromone and organic insecticide control have been found useful, there is not enough research to support this.

Thrips

Attracted to blossoms and fruits, these tiny pests attack ornamental leaves, leaving dark streaks and silver or white patches. Thrips are not seen as a huge threat to Royal Burgundy cherry trees; however, their unsightly marks may be distressing to some gardeners.

Solution

Thrips can be successfully treated by maintaining a clean garden with minimal weeds and spraying organic insecticides or neem oil if need be. There are also great homemade recipes which are fantastic, environmentally friendly options.

Leaf Rollers

None of the four major leafroller varieties pose much threat to Royal Burgundy cherry trees as these insects are attracted to fruit, which can usually be found in greater abundance elsewhere, rather than on meager-fruiting ornamentals. Still, the rolled leaves that the pests leave behind can be unsightly.

Solution

Leaf Rollers have many natural predators, and infestations should not normally occur.

That’s A Wrap!

As you can see there is a multitude of potential problems facing Royal Burgundy cherries as well as Japanese cherry trees in general. However, prevention is always better than treatment, and there are many natural, easy, and effective ways to avoid these problems.

A stressed tree is far more at risk of diseases and fungus, poor blossoming, reduced growth, and poor foliage. To keep a Royal Burgundy happy, water less rather than more, ensure trees receive a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight and use correct organic fertilizers.

Introducing more plants to gardens also attracts wildlife like birds and beneficial insects that predate on pests. Natural solutions are always better and will keep your trees blossoming and thriving for years to come.

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