How to Grow and Care for Weeping Cherry Tree

Weeping cherry trees with light pink flowers.

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Weeping cherry tree, or "weeping Higan cherry," is a specimen valued in spring for its flowers and year-round for its form. This cultivar was developed to take advantage of the lovely flowers of the genus while adding a cascading form into the mix. The genus can bear either pink or white flowers; the cultivar, Prunus pendula 'Pendula Rosea,' as it is now called, bears pink flowers (Rosea means "pink" or "rosey"; Pendula means "weeping"). It is an ornamental tree, not a cherry tree grown for the sweet fruit that you would find in the grocery store; for the latter, grow sweet Bing cherries (Prunus avium 'Bing'). Prunus is part of the Rose family, making it a relative of such landscape plants as Cotoneaster horizontalis, Crataegus phaenopyrum, and Physocarpus opulifolius. It is best planted in fall or early spring. Learn how to grow and care for weeping cherry, and decide if it is a good fit for your own yard.

 Common Names  Weeping cherry tree, weeping Higan cherry tree
 Botanical Name  Prunus pendula 'Pendula Rosea' (formerly, Prunus subhirtella 'Pendula')
 Family  Rosaceae
 Plant Type Broadleaf, deciduous tree
 Mature Size 20 to 30 ft. tall, 15 to 25 ft. wide
 Sun Exposure  Full sun to partial shade
 Soil Type  Well-drained, fertile
 Soil pH  6.0 to 7.0
 Hardiness Zones  5 to 8, USDA
 Native Area  Species native to Japan

Weeping Cherry Tree Care

The weeping cherry tree is fussy in its growing requirements and care and is often attacked by insects and diseases. Carefully consider the high amount of maintenance it needs against the beauty it offers when selecting it as a landscape tree. If you do choose to grow it, here are the conditions it needs and how to care for it:

Japanese weeping cherry tree with long branches with small pink flowers

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Light

Although it will grow in partial shade, plant weeping cherry tree in full sun for optimal performance. Growing it in partial shade increases its susceptibility to fungal diseases.

Soil

Provide it with a good garden loam so that its soil will drain well.

Water

The water needs of this plant are average. But for optimal results, keep its soil evenly moist during the growing season.

Temperature and Humidity

Weeping cherry tree is suited to neither the extreme cold of the far North nor the extreme heat and humidity of the deep South. However, it tolerates cold and heat better than most other ornamental cherry trees.

Fertilizer

Weeping cherry tree performs best in ground that is at least moderately rich. Feed it annually with a complete fertilizer in early spring. Follow label instructions exactly, since the proper amount to apply varies according to tree size. Applying too much fertilizer can burn your plant.

Types of Weeping Cherry Trees

There are a number of different types of weeping cherry trees. Examples (all suited to zones 5 to 8) include:

  • 'Cheal's' weeping cherry tree (Prunus serrulata 'Kiku-shidare-zakura'): Double, pink flowers; 10 to 15 feet tall and wide
  • Snow Fountains weeping cherry (Prunus 'Snow Fountains' or 'Snofozam'): White flowers; 8 to 15 feet tall, with a spread of 6 to 8 feet
  • Yoshino weeping cherry (Prunus x yedoensis 'Shidare Yoshino'): White flowers; 20 to 25 feet tall, with a spread of 20 to 30 feet

Pruning

Usually, the weeping cherry tree you buy will be the result of a graft. The top part of the tree (the "scion") is the weeping part. The bottom part (the "rootstock") is actually a Prunus avium and does not have weeping capabilities. Any shoots coming out of the rootstock are undesirable and should be pruned off immediately; your plant is diverting valuable energy away from the rest of the tree into these useless shoots, which are unattractive.

Propagating Weeping Cherry Trees

Because your weeping cherry tree most likely is the result of a graft, taking a cutting from either the scion or the rootstock and rooting it for propagation will not produce another weeping cherry tree. A grafted tree takes advantage of the best properties of its scion and rootstock to create one "super tree." Separated from each other, both the scion and the rootstock will fail to live up to what you have come to expect from the grafted product.

How to Grow Weeping Cherry Tree From Seed

Again, because this tree is grafted, the seed from it won't come "true." In fact, one reason why certain trees are grafted is that they do not come true to seed, so it is better to propagate them by "building" them, as it were. This way, you know what you're getting. But the resulting seed will be just as unreliable as the parent's seed.

Overwintering

Weeping cherry tree is reasonably cold-hardy. No extra care is required to overwinter it if you live in an area no colder than zone 5.

Common Problems With Weeping Cherry Tree

Weeping cherry tree is prone to attacks from insects and diseases. For example:

Borers

The weeping cherry tree is susceptible to infestations of borers (both adult and larval). A sign that you have a borer problem is sap leaking out of the trunk. Severe infestations are fatal and will necessitate tree removal. Your weeping cherry tree will probably survive a minor infestation as long as it is healthy and you continue to provide it with the sunlight, water, and nutrients that it needs.

Powdery Mildew Disease

Weeping cherries can be attacked by powdery mildew disease, a fungal disease that does little real harm to the tree but that mars its appearance. As when dealing with powdery mildew on any plant, there are several preventative measures you can take:

  • Strike a balance between keeping the soil dry and keeping it overly saturated. Soggy soil is a breeding ground for fungi.
  • When watering, avoid getting the leaves wet.
  • Irrigate early in the day, allowing excess water to evaporate prior to nightfall.
  • Practice proper garden hygiene. Diseased vegetation should be immediately cut off and disposed of properly (not composted).
FAQ
  • Does weeping cherry tree have nice fall foliage?

    Weeping cherry is not grown for its fall color. The leaves do turn yellow to orange in fall, but there are better choices for fall foliage.

  • Does weeping cherry tree have attractive foliage at all?

    While its fall foliage pales compared to the competition, its spring foliage has a nice bronze color to it, as does pagoda dogwood (Cornus alternifolia).

  • What is the biggest con to planting a weeping cherry trees?

    As prone to pest attacks and diseases as they are, they are short-lived. There are many great flowering trees; consider another choice if longevity is important to you.