Weeping Cherry Tree Problems: 22 Common Issues & Solutions

These ornamental trees are showcased in countless yards across the US and are seen constantly throughout Japanese art and history.

But their beauty doesn’t come without issue. All trees are susceptible to various problems ranging from pests to infection and watering-related issues.

What you’ll find below is an extensive list of problems seen in Weeping Cherry trees and the best solution to fixing the issue.

General Problems

General problems you might see with this tree include: 

Sunscald  

Sunscald affects young trees causing discoloration or cracks in the trunk. It occurs when winter sun warms dormant cells and night temps fall. The damage attracts pests & diseases but isn’t fatal.

Solution

White tree wraps keep the trunk shaded until the bark thickens.

Withered Leaves

Withered leaves mean the tree needs water. This often occurs during prolonged hot, dry days. Also, check if waterlogged soil can’t supply adequate oxygen and nutrients.

Solution

If dry, give the tree water until the leaves respond. Then water on a regular basis. Too wet? Allow soil time to dry out.

Yellow Leaves

Yellow leaves mean poor drainage or improper watering. Drought conditions have a similar effect. Green leaves contain chlorophyll for sustenance. Inadequate water forces the leaf to gain nutrients from within. It turns yellow and then dies.

Solution

Maintain a good watering program and watch the leaves.

Slow Growth

Slow growth indicates a tree doesn’t have adequate water or sunlight for its needs. Get a soil test and apply fertilizer to correct imbalances.

Solution

The best fertilizer ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus & potassium is 2-1-1 or 3-1-1. In addition, proper pruning encourages strong growth. Remove nearby shade.

Diseases

Diseases that may affect your Weeping Cherry:    

Silver Leaf

Silver leaf means a fungus exists. Spring storms often injure or break branches. Airborne spores can infect these wounds. The leaves develop a silver sheen at first. In late summer, the fungus grows, and the branch dies.   

Solution          

Prune and burn dead limbs, and then feed and water.

Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew looks like powdered sugar on top of affected leaves. As a fungal disease, it thrives in warm, dry, shady conditions. Wind spreads its spores to other plants.

Solution

Plant your tree in a sunny location. Remove infected leaves. Spray with neem oil or a solution consisting of 1 teaspoon baking soda in 1-quart water.                                                                                                    

Blossom Wilt

Blossom wilt is a nasty fungal disease that likes wet weather. Withered blossoms and brown leaves are the first sign of infection. Spores can infect vulnerable birds causing them injuries. 

Solution

Treat by removing and burning dead branches. Rake leaves in the fall. Prune tree for good air circulation.  

Crown Rot

Crown rot is a deterioration of the trunk or crown of a tree. A soil-borne fungus that thrives in wet conditions damages the root system. Leaves turn yellow at first. The tree becomes stunted and the canopy thins.

Solution

Contact your extension agent. Don’t overwater. Prevent lawnmower injury.

Brown Rot

Brown rot is a destructive fungus disease in orchards. The spores are airborne or spread by insects. At first brown-spotted blossoms will wilt. If the tree bears fruit, spores can cover them.

Solution

Spray with a specific fungicide. Remove dead limbs in winter & burn. Good sanitation helps.

Leaf Spot Disease

Leaf spot disease refers to brown or black spots affecting leaves, often caused by fungi or bacteria. The trees can tolerate this condition and grow new leaves, but the organism can linger in fallen leaves or twigs.

Solution

Remove dead leaves and twigs. Keep foliage dry. There is usually no need to spray.

Black Knot Disease 

Black knot disease refers to hard, swollen galls that disfigure the tree. Fungus spores can overwinter within the bark. Cancerous cells create rough, unnatural growth on the trunk. Trees should be able to produce healthy leaves.

Solution

Call an arborist if there is oozing or the leaves fall.

Cankers 

Cankers are Isolated dead areas on the bark. They appear as discolored or depressed scars. A fungus or bacteria can be the culprit. Often it results from storm damage or weed eaters and mowers. A healthy tree can survive.

Solution  

Proper tree care is the best prevention. Prune cankers. Apply compost to the soil.

Blight

Blight is a fungal infection that causes wilted blossoms and spotted leaves. It can spread to twigs and spurs. Annual survival can infect other trees. If untreated, the tree can die.

Solution 

Prune affected twigs, cut out cankers, then burn debris. Apply fungicides as soon as the tree starts to set blossoms.

Necrotic Ringspot

Necrotic ringspot is a virus that causes fatal holes or mosaic patterns in leaves. It can stunt a tree’s growth. 

Grafted nursery stock can carry the virus, so only buy virus-free trees. Bees transmit infected pollen also.

Solution

The sun’s rays can kill viruses by heating,so place a plastic tent around a sick tree.                              

Crown Gall

Crown gallis soil bacteria that creates abnormal growths on roots or branches. They weaken and stunt plants and trees, but they’ll still live. This disease is most common near ground level and enters through wounds.

Solution

Remove the gall, but the bacteria remain in the soil. Chemical treatments aren’t effective.

Verticillium Wilt 

Verticillium wilt attacks a variety of ornamental trees. Its presence causes leaves to yellow and wilt. The branches soon die. Fungi enter through the root system, block xylem cells, and stifle nutrients and water. There is no cure.

Solution

Plant trees that are resistant to wilt and burn dead limbs.

Pests

Common insect pests that may affect the weeping cherry include:

Aphids

Aphids are small, sap-sucking insects that weaken a tree or plant. There are over 100 destructive species. They reproduce so fast that control is not easy. They often feed on the undersides of leaves.

Solution

Spray enough neem oil so that it drips. You can also use ladybugs and parasitic wasps. 

Leaf Miners 

Leaf miners create squiggly lines on leaves. The insects may lay eggs, but it is the larvae that cause unsightly damage. Most do little serious injury.

Solution

You can spray a specific leaf miner pesticide, but the timing must be perfect. Neem oil can interrupt the life cycle. Parasitic wasps also eat them.  

Beetles

Many beetles can injure trees by feeding on roots, stems, leaves, and even the wood itself, but Japanese beetles are the most destructive. They eat leaves down to a web outline.

Solution

Remove by hand and drown in soapy water. Avoid traps. They only lure more to your yard.

Spider Mites

Spider mites are common pin-sized pests and can be red, green, yellow or brown. Clusters are active in warm weather, feasting on leaf sap that turns foliage yellow. They overwinter as eggs. Damage can weaken a plant, making them vulnerable to disease.

Solution

Insecticidal soap and neem oil can control them. 

Borers 

Borers are moth larvae on twigs and trunks of stressed fruit trees. They bore, eat, and live inside wood until next spring. 

Signs of peach twig and Pacific flathead borer are sawdust or oozing sap at holes.

Solution

Burn dead branches, apply white latex paint to trunks, or remove larvae in soil.

Thrips 

Thrips are small, needle-thin insects attracted to very dry plants. They overwinter inside bark. In spring, eggs hatch fast and the larvae suck the plant’s sap. The first signs are yellow or deformed leaves that wilt and die. Damage can lead to disease.

Solution

Spray insecticidal soap, or use specific pesticides.

Leaf Rollers 

Leaf rollers are moth larvae that feed and pupate within the shelter of rolled leaves. They attack ornamental and fruit trees. When disturbed, they drop to the ground on a silken thread. The larvae are pale green or light brown.

Solution

Natural enemies, namely birds and wasps, help to control. Sprays aren’t needed.                                                               

Conclusion

Plant your weeping cherry tree in well-drained soil in a sunny location. It will thrive for years if you water it consistently. Examine the leaves for any diseases or pests and treat them as suggested.

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