How to properly trim a cherry or weeping cherry?

Discussion in 'Landscape Maintenance' started by Ramairfreak98ss, Dec 15, 2009.

  1. HenryB

    HenryB LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,849

    I always trim them. Only one guy flipped after we trimmed his. Three years later it's not a weeping cherry any more. It looks like a wild weed. Now the jerk wants us to get back the umbrella shape. My answer call another arborist. After his little hissy fit, never again.
  2. phasthound

    phasthound LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,158

    Sorry, I'd say you made mistake by "trimming" that way. Pruning ornamental trees should always be discussed with the client before hand to avoid unexpected conflicts.
  3. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    That is why you don't trim the branches that ARE growing in the right direction. Only the ones that are unruly, and that is done carefully and annually.
    You prune the tips of anything, it automatically spurts lateral growth. That is caused by a concentration of hormones in lateral buds, because it is responding to the loss of the leader.
    Been a long time since I was in Botany... Does anyone know what that particular phenomenon is called?
  4. HenryB

    HenryB LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,849

    The problem is the shape of a WCT (weeping cherry tree) is not a natural phenomenon. I've worked with growers they are constantly being nipped tucked, trimmed and stringed. In CTF's christmas tree farms the trees are constantly being sheared for that triangular shape. So many of these "ornamentals are trimmed constantly and then once they are sold the "experts say never touch this tree or that. Kind of silly. Then we wonder why they look so bad and no longer resemble the Species tree we bought a couple of years earlier.
  5. mdlwn1

    mdlwn1 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,443

    Just a thought. We're all assuming it's that loose pink variety. What if it's that "snow fountain"? Not that you would shear across the bottom, but an umbrella shape on a snow fountain is very common.
  6. Ramairfreak98ss

    Ramairfreak98ss LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,210

    Yeah its a white one, and most of the info listed from you guys in the above posts i never knew about myself.. but i guess its why i thought nothing of it because its common for me to see this and my trimmer guy there has done a lot for us and never had an issue and he knows at least as much as i do.
  7. rickcrisbalthis

    rickcrisbalthis LawnSite Member
    Messages: 4

    Usually when we prune a weeping cherry, we prune to keep it under the 20 ft mark. Most of our customers want a 12-15 ft. tops. Usually we just prune the unruly sprouts as someone here put it. Also the phenomenon you mentioned is actually a result of the terminal bud being cut. It has a hormone suppressing lateral growth until the limb is long enough to absorb the hormone enough to allow the lateral growth. Removing the terminal bud eliminates the hormone, auxin, from suppressing lateral growth which makes a plant bushier.

    So in short, you should remove improper leaders, thin out necessary limbs if they want it looser, and always selectively prune to avoid cutting a lot of terminal buds as well as risking the damage of bark on the remaining limbs. Hope that helps.
  8. grassman177

    grassman177 LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,795

    this pretty much sums it all up 4 me
  9. Dstosh

    Dstosh LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 716

    Apical Dominance
  10. OrganicsMaine

    OrganicsMaine LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 553

    I think that the first thing we should do is define pruning vs. shearing. Shearing is what you do w/ the hedge trimmers, both gas/electric and man powered. Pruning is what you do with a small pair of pruning shears. When pruning you are looking first at dead wood. Then you look at the architecture of the plant. For those snow fountain cherries, I would maintain the shape while also allowing good airflow. That means I would selectively prune the least impactful branches out along with branches that are rubbing and creating wounds. This would help with many fungal diseases and allow the plant to be generally more healthy.

    I, personally would never shear these plants....but i know why you did what you did, I started my career in central NJ, the home of green meatballs and weeping lollipops! :laugh:

    I would consider looking into the Cook College winter courses. I know they used to have one on woody plants and the general care of them. It used to be taught by a professor that I had, Dr. Bruce Hamilton. Check these out, the knowledge will help you to do the right thing for the plants while still achieving the results that your customer wants....good luck!

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