By Heather Rhoades
Weeping cherry trees have become very popular over the past few years due to their grace and form. Many gardeners who planted weeping cherries a few years ago are now wondering how to trim weeping cherry trees. The process for pruning a weeping cherry tree is not difficult.
Is My Weeping Cherry Grafted?
Before you trim a weeping cherry tree, you need to see if it is a natural or a grafted weeping cherry. A grafted weeping cherry will have a graft knot on the trunk, normally between just below the crown to about a foot down from the crown.
Weeping cherry pruning for grafted trees differs from trees that have not been grafted. Below, you will find directions for how to trim weeping cherry trees that are grafted and pruning a weeping cherry tree that is natural.
When to Prune a Weeping Cherry Tree
Both grafted and natural cherry trees should be pruned in early spring or late fall when the tree is still dormant. When starting your weeping cherry pruning, there should be no flowers or leaves open on the tree.
Pruning a Weeping Cherry Tree That is Grafted
Grafted weeping cherry trees frequently develop a “snarl” of branches in the center of their crown which can make them more likely to have damage in the winter or during wind storms. Because of this, the snarl must be thinned out.
Start pruning the weeping cherry tree by trimming back the tips of any branches that touch the ground. You want them to be at least 6 inches above the ground.
Next when you trim a weeping cherry tree, remove any branches that are growing straight up. On grafted trees, these branches will not “weep” and so should be removed in order to make sure the tree stays “weeping.”
The next step in grafted weeping cherry pruning is to remove any diseased branches and any branches that are crossed and rubbing one another. The “snarl” at the top will have many rubbing branches and this will help thin that out.
After you have completed all of these steps for pruning a weeping cherry tree that is grafted, take a step back and assess the shape of the tree. Trim the weeping cherry tree crown into a shape that is pleasing and uniform.
Steps for Natural (Ungrafted) Weeping Cherry Pruning
On an ungrafted tree, the first step for how to trim weeping cherry trees is to trim back any branches that are trailing on the ground so that the tips of the branches are at least 6 inches off the ground.
Next, trim the weeping cherry tree branches that are diseased and dead. After this, prune away any branches that are crossed over each other and are rubbing against each other.
If there are any branches growing straight up, leave these in place. Do not prune these branches because on naturally weeping cherry trees, the upward growing branches will eventually arch down. If you prune these off, the tree will lose its weeping shape.
After you have completed these steps for pruning a weeping cherry tree that has not been grafted, you can do some trimming to improve the shape of the crown. Trim your weeping cherry tree crown into a uniform shape and remove any straggling branches.