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How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Weeping Cherry Tree

Girl walking in a path lined up with weeping cherry trees under full sun light

The Weeping Cherry Tree, scientifically known as Prunus pendula, is indeed a spectacle to behold. The genus name ‘Prunus’ is a nod towards ‘plum or cherry’, while ‘pendula’ means ‘hanging’, clearly hinting at its elegant, sprawling silhouette characterized by cascading branches dotted with delicate pink flowers, which emerge in clusters in early spring. Its graceful, weeping form indeed adds an air of romance and grandeur to any landscape.

This tree is well known for its stunning display of cherry blossoms, a prized phenomenon worldwide. The vivid splashes of pink and white flowers dramatically transform the tree, leaving it adorned with a blanket of blossoms. The brilliance of its pink flowers contrasts beautifully against the backdrop of its green leaves, thereby creating a breathtaking spectacle.

Pink buds and blooming flowers of the weeping cherry tree

Photo Credit: Dreamstime.

The Weeping Cherry Tree thrives in hardiness zones 5 to 8 as defined by USDA guidelines. This tree is a sun-lover, preferring areas with full sun exposure for the most vibrant blooms.

It’s not just a pretty face, though; the weeping cherry tree, with its trailing branches and profuse blossoms, serves as an exceptional habitat and source of nectar for pollinators like bees. Though this tree requires consistent moisture to maintain its vitality, it is moderately resistant to drought and dry spells.

As a master gardener, I couldn’t help but research and learn as much about these stunning trees as possible. In this article, I’ll share everything you need to know about the weeping cherry tree and how to grow and care for it.

Weeping cherry tree with pink flowers in a park with bird baths

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Botanical Name: Prunus pendula

Common Name: Weeping cherry tree, weeping Higan cherry tree

Family: Rosaceae

Plant Type: Broadleaf, deciduous tree

Hardiness Zones: 5 – 8 (USDA)

Sun Exposure: Full sun

Soil Type: Well-drained

Soil pH: Neutral to acidic

Maturity: 15 – 25 years

Height: 20 – 30 feet

Spacing: 15 – 20 feet

Bloom Time: Early spring

Flower Color: Pink or white

Native Area: Japan

Weeping Cherry Tree Plant Care

Caring for a pink weeping cherry tree, officially known as Prunus pendula, starts from the early spring when the tree displays an abundant burst of pink flowers or white blossoms, contrasting beautifully against its green leaves.

Light pink blooms of the weeping cherry tree against the blue cloudy sky

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

This species of cherry blossoms thrives in full sun, likes a bit of shade and requires well-draining soil to avoid root rot. To enhance the moisture retention of the soil, apply a layer of mulch around the root ball extending to the drip line of the tree; this also helps control weeds and maintains cooler root zones during dry spells.

Although the tree is hardy in USDA hardiness zones 5 through 8, it should still be monitored for pests like aphids, caterpillars, spider mites, and Japanese beetles.

Remember also to prune it annually or seasonally to encourage a healthier trunk and improved air circulation, which helps deter the incidence of diseases such as powdery mildew.

Finally, promoting the presence of pollinators like bees can enhance the propagation and blossoming of your weeping cherry tree.

Light

Weeping cherry tree (Prunus pendula) is a beloved part of any landscape due to its breathtaking pink flowers that bloom in early spring.

Pink flower buds of the weeping cherry tree against the blue sky

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

This genus of trees thrives in full sun, with at least six hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day. The vibrant green leaves and clustered blossoms benefit greatly from abundant sunlight, intensifying their colors and encouraging growth.

In the case of the pink weeping cherry trees, a sufficiently sunny location brings out the most stunning shades of their characteristic blossoms.

While the tree can tolerate partial shade, blooms may be less prolific in shaded conditions. Therefore, for a profusion of pink flowers or white flowers, in the case of higan cherry, ensure your tree is bathed in ample sunlight.

Soil

Weeping Cherry Tree is relatively flexible to soil conditions. It will thrive the most robustly in soil that is well-draining to prevent root rot. Periods of water-saturated soil can be detrimental to the tree, leading to dry spells during the warmer months, and can encourage fungi like powdery mildew.

White weeping cherry tree in a garden

Photo Credit: Dreamstime.

It’s crucial, especially during periods of drought, to ensure a layer of mulch is applied around the base of the tree to keep moisture in. Adding a compost or organic matter to the soil on an annual basis can also help to nourish and hydrate the root ball, promoting healthier green leaves, vibrant pink flowers, and abundant clusters of cherry blossoms.

Water

This tree thrives on a consistent supply of moisture. It’s essential to provide moderate water, ensuring the soil around the root ball is consistently moist but not waterlogged to prevent root rot.

During times of drought or extended dry spells, the tree may require additional water to maintain its vibrant green leaves and breathtaking clusters of pink or white flowers.

A layer of mulch can be applied to help retain the needed moisture and keep the roots cooler in full sun. However, remember to keep the mulch a few inches away from the trunk to avoid moisture buildup and potential pest infestations.

Temperature and Humidity

This associable genus prefers climates where the annual low temperature does not dip below -20 degrees Fahrenheit. Optimal growth and clusters of pink blossoms or white flowers, depending on the variety of the tree, occur in these zones where the tree can receive full sun, amplifying the landscape’s beauty in early spring.

Weeping cherry tree in a green lawn in partial shade to the sun due to the tall trees beside it

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

However, they can also tolerate partial shades. These trees, including the Higan cherry variant, prefer moderate humidity and well-drained soil to prevent root rot. During dry spells or periods of drought, ensure to provide extra moisture to the tree’s root ball through watering or adding a layer of mulch.

Fertilizer

Fertilization should ideally contain a balance of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to promote strong trunk growth, green leaves development, and blossoms.

To retain moisture and protect the tree’s root ball from extreme temperatures, always add a layer of mulch after fertilizing.

Keep in mind that excessive fertilizer use can lead to unwanted pest invasions like aphids, caterpillars, and Japanese beetles, as well as diseases such as powdery mildew and root rot.

Hands sowing fertilizer granules to the ground with green background

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

The best practice is to add compost in the fall, allowing decomposition over winter to provide nutrient-rich fodder for spring growth. During drier spells or prolonged drought, a water-soluble fertilizer can help provide much-needed moisture.

Pruning

A crucial part of the care for weeping cherry trees is proper pruning, which ensures the health and aesthetics of these beautiful trees. Just after the tree’s blossoms have graced your landscape in early spring is the best time to prune.

Remove any parts of the tree that appear unhealthy or are obscuring the trunk, paying special attention to areas affected by pests such as aphids, caterpillars, or Japanese beetles.

An up view of the trunk and branches of weeping cherry tree against the blue sky

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

When pruning, keep in mind the natural shape of the tree, and try to prune to maintain its gentle curve. Additionally, pruning helps promote air circulation, which can prevent powdery mildew and other fungal diseases.

Gentle pruning also stimulates the tree’s sap production, which aids in the tree’s overall health and bloom production.

Overwintering

Overwintering these beauties, especially in harsher hardiness zones as designated by the USDA, requires a bit of finesse. As early spring approaches, this zone corresponding tree’s blossoms start to bloom, signaling the end of winter dormancy.

Bare weeping cherry tree covered in snow during winter season

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

It is necessary to protect the trunk of the tree through the colder months with a layer of mulch at its base, preventing root ball freeze and aiding moisture retention. Compost can also be added to this base layer providing an added nutrient boost in preparation for the spectacular spring bloom.

Overwintering is an important part of the tree’s yearly lifecycle, ensuring it survives dry spells, and thrives in full sun once the warmer weather begins to peak through the winter frost.

How to Plant a Weeping Cherry Tree From Seed

Closeup of weeping cherry tree flowers with pink and red shades

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Step 1: Choosing Your Seed

To begin the propagation process, you’ll first need to choose a healthy weeping cherry tree seed, specifically the Prunus pendula or higan cherry from the genus Prunus, which is notable for its stunning pink flowers.

Step 2: Preparing the Seed

The seed should be soaked in water for 24 hours to facilitate germination. Prepare a compost rich potting mix in a pot or seed tray and plant the soaked seed approximately 1 inch deep.

Step 3: Germination

Place the pot in a location where it can receive ample sunlight, as the weeping cherry tree thrives in full sun. Maintain constant moisture in the soil and regularly monitor the moisture level, as dry spells could potentially harm the young seedling. Remember, the weeping cherry tree appreciates water but dislikes overly wet conditions which can lead to root rot.

Step 4: Transplanting The Seedling

Once the seedling has developed a substantial root ball, it is ready for transplantation into the landscape. Choose a location that matches the hardiness zones recommended by the USDA for the weeping cherry tree, typically between zones 5 and 8.

Step 5: Planting Into The Garden

Dig a hole twice the size of the root ball, ensuring your weeping cherry tree has ample room to set its roots. Set the tree into the hole, making sure that the part of the tree where the rootstock was grafted to the scion is level with or slightly above the surrounding soil surface.

Weeping cherry tree in the lawn during spring season

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Step 6: Final Touches

After planting, apply a layer of mulch around the base of the trunk. Mulch helps to retain moisture, inhibits weed growth, and keeps the root system warm during winter.

How to Propagate Weeping Cherry Tree

Step 1: Choose the Right Time and Tree

The propagation process should ideally begin in early spring when new growth appears and cherry blossoms start to bloom on the weeping cherry tree (Prunus pendula).

It’s crucial to select a healthy tree with a robust rootstock that’s not infected with pests like aphids, spider mites, or Japanese beetles. These trees bloom beautiful pink flowers and are a stunning addition to any landscape.

However, they require full sun and consistent moisture levels, so make sure the tree is suitable for the climate in your USDA hardiness zone.

Step 2: Prepare your Cutting (Scion)

Pruning an existing weeping cherry tree is beneficial for both propagation and patience. You will need to prune a six to eight-inch long section from a branch that’s about a pencil’s thickness.

Branch of a weeping cherry tree with pink flowers against a blue sky with clouds

Photo Credit: Dreamstime.

The cutting, also known as a scion, should include a combination of mature green leaves and the genus-specific pink blossoms or potential blooms. These parts of the tree will be essential for grafting onto your chosen rootstock.

Step 3: Grafting

Graft the chosen scion onto your rootstock. To do this, make a slanting cut on the rootstock, about one-third down the trunk.

Cut your scion at the same angle, and fit the two cuts together, ensuring the cambium (the layer just below the bark where sap flows) layers meet. Secure the union with grafting tape to preserve moisture and inhibit entry of disease and insects.

Step 4: Aftercare

Once the grafting process is complete, the plant needs to be kept in an environment with high humidity and indirect sunlight for the first few weeks. Protect the new plant from potential pests such as caterpillars or diseases like powdery mildew and root rot.

Weeping cherry tree blooms against the clear blue sky

Photo Credit: Dreamstime.

During dry spells, ensure the root ball receives adequate water. A layer of mulch around your new tree will help retain moisture while warding off weeds.

Step 5: Transplantation

When the grafted tree begins to show signs of decent growth, it’s time to plant it in its permanent location. Weeping cherry trees prefer a sunny spot with light shades and well-drained soil.

Add organic compost to the planting hole to provide essential nutrients. Monitor the tree’s moisture levels and ensure it gets full sun for at least six hours per day. Pollinators, particularly bees, love cherry blossoms, and the pink flowers will be an inviting source of nectar.

Common Pests and Plant Diseases for Weeping Cherry Tree

Weeping cherry trees can add a beautiful splash of pink blossoms to any landscape.

However, these trees can be vulnerable to various pests and diseases. It’s essential to identify and treat these issues promptly to ensure the tree’s long-term health.

1. Aphids: These small insects feed on the sap of the weeping cherry tree, weakening the overall structure and vigor of the plant. Aphids could lead to stunted growth, yellowing leaves, and reduced blooming. Early intervention is crucial, and often, spraying the trees with a strong stream of water or introducing beneficial insects like ladybugs can control the aphid population.

Macro of an aphid on a green surface

Aphid – Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

2. Caterpillars: Several species of caterpillars will feed on the leaves of your cherry tree. Some of them can defoliate part of the tree, leaving bare branches. Keeping the area around the tree clean can discourage the proliferation of these pests. If an infestation does occur, using organic or chemical insecticides can help control population growth.

Green caterpillar on a brown branch

Caterpillar – Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

3. Spider Mites: These tiny arachnids often go unnoticed until a large population has formed, causing significant damage. Spider mites cause yellow specks on the leaves, which eventually turn brown and drop. Increasing humidity and using natural predators like ladybeetles and lacewings can help control spider mite populations.

Red spider mite on a leaf

Spider Mite – Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

4. Japanese Beetles: These beetles are a threat to your tree’s foliage, skeletonizing the green leaves and reducing its ability to photosynthesize adequately. Handpicking them off or using traps can be an effective solution to Japanese beetles.

Macro of a Japanese beetle on a green leaf

Japanese Beetle – Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

5. Powdery Mildew: This fungus shows up as a white or gray powder on the leaves and blooms. Infected trees may experience slow growth, yellowing leaves, and reduced bloom. Management includes pruning to enhance air circulation, reducing humidity around the tree, and using an appropriate fungicide.

Closeup view of powdery mildew that looks like white powder on a green leaf

Powdery Mildew – Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

6. Root Rot: Overwatering or poor drainage can lead to root rot, that causes the roots to become dark and mushy. To prevent this, ensure your weeping cherry tree is planted in well-draining soil and carefully monitor watering.

Common Plant Problems and Solutions for Weeping Cherry Tree

Yellow leaves of the weeping cherry tree against the blue sky

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Drought Stress

Given that full sun is ideal for the weeping cherry tree, it’s at risk during periods of drought. If experiencing patchy growth and wilting, apply a layer of compost and mulch around the root ball to hold moisture. Regular watering during dry spell becomes crucial.

Yellowing Leaves

If the normally green leaves of your pink weeping cherry trees are starting to yellow, it may be due to poor nutrient absorption or rootstock issues related to grafting. Modifying the soil pH with the help of compost or a high-quality garden soil amendment can assist in this problem.

Brown Tips

Inadequate watering can lead to browning leaf tips. Watering during dry periods on an as-needed basis can help. If the issue persists, consider having your soil tested to determine if another nutrient deficiency could be the cause.

Cherry Blossoms Falling Prematurely

If blossoms fall before the peak blooming period in early spring, it may be due to frost. Protect the blossoms with a frost cloth when frost is expected.

 

Other Tree Guides from Planet Natural:

Poplar Tree Guide: 10 Most Popular Types of Poplar Trees

Persimmon Tree Full Guide to Growing, Caring For Harvesting

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