Plants - Trees and Shrubs

The graceful beauty of ornamental cherry trees

Laura Langston
Photography by
Bert Klassen

Though their delicate blooms may be fleeting, the graceful beauty of ornamental cherry trees is delightful year-round.

Root rot

Symptoms: Affected trees bloom, send out new leaves, then suddenly collapse. Caused by heavy, poorly drained soil, and there is no cure.
Treatment: Prevent soil from becoming waterlogged.

Brown rot

Symptoms: Caused by fungal disease, blooms, fruit or new leaves turn brown but remain on the tree. 
Treatment: For light infestations, prune out affected areas. If severe, treat with Captan or Benlate; do not apply excessive nitrogen. Badly affected trees may need to be replaced. 

Bacterial canker

Symptoms: Cankers appear on twigs or tiny holes in leaves before the affected part dies. Cool, wet weather makes canker commonon the West Coast. Prunus x subhirtella cultivars are especially susceptible.
Treatment: Select canker-resistant varieties. Prune out affected branches to healthy wood as soon as cankers are visible (clean tools with a disinfectant or a 10 per cent bleach solution). Copper spray can also be used. If caught early, healthy trees have a good chance of survival.


Symptoms: Leaves wilt or yellow. Sticky honeydew on upper leaf surface, base, or stems.
Treatment: Remove new shoots or small suckers (which are magnets for aphids), or shower off with insecticidal soap (aphids can also be removed with a blast of plain water). If treated early, there is an excellent chance of survival for the infected tree. 

Cherry bark tortrix moth

Symptoms: Tiny, brown pellets resembling sawdust appear in cracks or pruning cuts in spring as larvae tunnel under bark. This moth attacks weakened trees.
Treatment: There is no cure; avoid pruning unless absolutely necessary. Depending on overall health, the tree may or may not survive.

Tent caterpillars

Symptoms: Noticeable web tents and foliage damage.
Treatment: Use a forked branch to wind up webs and expose caterpillars to predators. Prognosis is good, if defoliation is prevented by removal of pests.

Winter moths

Symptoms: Leaves are being eaten, but no visible tents. Natural predators usually keep winter moths under control.
Treatment: Apply Tanglefoot or other sticky barrier product to trunk before first cold spell. Prognosis is good, if defoliation is prevented by removal of pests.


Symptoms: Pests burrow into tree, creating tunnels through which sap leaks out. Generally affects trees in severe decline.
Treatment: Look at age and overall health of tree; if the tree is old and weak, replace.

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