Weeping cherry trees are popular because of their nice shape and style. Weeping cherry trees add a bit more color than some other weeping trees, such as the weeping willow. These branches however can be all over the place and leave you wondering how and when to safely prune them. Pruning is simple and best done during specific times.
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When to Prune
Weeping cherry trees are best pruned in the late fall or early spring when the tree is dormant. The tree should be free from flowers or open leaves. However, if necessary, pruning can be done during other times of the year for things such as safety or damage to the tree. The reason to prune in the dormant season is to leave the tree exposed to less danger before new growth starts.
Use sharp pruning shears or clippers to cut any branches back that are touching or are close to touching the ground. You want at least a six-inch clearance between the branches and the ground.
Cut any diseased or dead branches back by pruning close, within a couple inches to the parent branch of each. Prune any branches that rub or cross each other.
Prune to get the shape you want. Again, prune close to the parent branches. The parent branch is the primary branch from which the other branch grows.
Grafted or Natural Tree?
A weeping cherry tree can either be natural or grafted. To tell if the tree is grafted, look for a graft knot on the trunk of the tree, usually within a foot of where the main branches begin under the crown. If you have a natural tree, there is nothing else to prune. However, if you have a grafted tree, there is some additional pruning that needs to be done.
Pruning Grafted Trees
Grafted trees often have a congestion of branches in the middle of the tree that can become damaged during high winds and in winter storms. In this congestion of branches, remove any branches that are growing straight up because they will not weep. As stated above, remove any branches that are rubbing or crossing one another, which is often the case in the center of a grafted tree. Remember to prune within a couple inches of the parent branches.