Mistakes to Avoid When Pruning Cherry Trees

Pruning cherry trees can be tricky, given the beautiful nature of the trees themselves. On the one hand, pruning can help cherry trees become healthier and more productive. On the other, incorrectly pruned cherry trees can turn into thickets of confused growth.

Correctly Pruning Cherry Trees
Here are some common pitfalls to avoid when pruning cherry trees:

  • Too much, too soon. Cherry trees generally don't respond well to major surgery. If you have a tree that seems in need of extensive pruning, try spacing the work out over a couple of years, rather than doing it all at once.
  • Thar she blows! Another problem with pruning cherry trees is their habit of throwing up water sprouts at the least provocation. Water sprouts are straight, skinny shoots that a cherry tree will send out because of stress or bad pruning. Topping, or other attempts to limit the size of cherry trees often result in the growth of water sprouts in following years.
  • Take it all. Often, novice pruners will leave too much of a branch behind when they make their cuts. This leaves a dead stump on the side of the tree that is an open invitation to insects and disease. The proper method of pruning cherry tree limbs is to cut as close to the trunk as possible without damaging the bark of the tree.
  • Know when to cut. Although many trees are best pruned in later winter, cherry trees should be pruned in late summer. Pruning at this time makes it easy to find dead branches that should be removed. This timing also gives the tree time to recover from the stress of pruning before winter sets in. Cherry trees pruned later are vulnerable to a disease called Silver Leaf.
  • But they're so cute! Often, cherry trees will send out new shoots at the base of the tree. These suckers use nutrients that the main tree needs and should be removed as soon as they appear. When removing suckers, make sure not to damage the bark or roots of the main tree.
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