Weeping cherry: One of those problems with no final
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Stumpers! All we can do is to share the pain and ease the pain
with laughter. For instance:
Whyizzit that fast growth comes only on plants ultimately too
big for the average landscape? For instance, a gardener will never
be done pruning this cute "little" weeping cherry.
Here's the story of pruning a weeping cherry that had gotten
away from its gardener. It applies to all fast growing trees from
mulberries to pussy willows. We aim to control that tree with just
one cut per year, keeping it small yet preserving its natural
First it had to be reduced in size by half. Then in each
subsequent year we can follow routine pruning for restricting the
size of weeping cherry trees. (We've described this routine before;
What's Coming Up 158, pages 1-4).
Have we ever hit it on the head
posted just what you needed that day?
That happens because we
work in gardens by day, write at night.
us to post what you need in your garden
Reduce it by half
We begin with a brutal cut, softened by feathering the branch
• The tree today (below, left),
• What it was just over one year ago after our first cut
(below, center), and
• What it was before we touched it at all (below,
Use the orange lines to gauge how much we reduced the tree's
Take another look at that first cut. Below, left: Spring #1
just after bloom and (below, right) one hour later.
Annual cut to restrict size
Spring #2, below: Two weeks after bloom and one hour later.
This was a hard cut but not so brutal as when first we decided to
keep the tree small. No cut is as drastic as that first
Designate main branches. Prune!
Over the course of the two cuts we established certain limbs as
the main branches. From that point on, each year right after bloom
we will go to the end of each main branch and shorten it to a
graceful side branch.
Below, left: The end of a main branch may produce all these
side branches in a year. Below, center and right: We don't have to
deal with every one of those new limbs. We only look back along a
main branch to shorten it so one of its graceful side branches
becomes its new end.
Focus on just one main limb at a time.
This is one of the most important tactics in pruning a fast
growing plant. Find a place on each main limb where one cut will
leave a pretty side branch as the new leader.
Below, left: To look at the whole canopy may be like seeing
Below, right: Instead, look at just one branch. We've repeated a
main limb in this picture with blue lines just to the right of the
real thing. The orange arrows mark two places where a cut could
leave a nice side branch as the new leader.
Wait a minute. It will grow!
We know we can depend on a fast-growing tree to quickly produce
more branches below our cuts, and do more shortening and shaping
the next year.
Below, left: Immediately after our cut in year #1. Center:
Immediately before the cut in year #2. Below, right: After the cut
in year two.