Montmorency Cherry Leaves Yellowing Post Prune

treehugger101June 8, 2013

I received this one with about 5 top branches a few weeks ago. I potted it up before I read about 5-1-1 in a 1/3rds mix of coir fibers, my clay soil and miracle grow potting soil. The tree had almost no roots. It was about 5' tall and doing well, leafing out. Three days ago, I pruned all my new trees including this one down to 30" like they say. Then it rained for two days. Today, all of the top leaves are yellowing just on the Montmorency Cherry. Thinking maybe it was the heavy clay soil, we repotted the tree in the much lighter mix 5-1-1. I don't know if pruning shock could cause this or too much water in the heavy soil. Does anyone know?

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I noticed on another thread about pruning this late in peaches, it can kill the tree. I read somewhere else summer pruning of cherries was the best time. I am confused. When a tree dies from pruning, do the leaves at the top turn yellow like this and then lower leaves or does the whole tree go at once? I really want to save this tree. Mrs G helped me pick out this tree and now I might have killed it! Please help.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 5:44PM
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Probably transplanting shock. Once it's adjusted to the new pot, it should be OK. Don't overwater it.

On another thread, the discussion is about heading back a peach tree that is actively growing to lower its height. When you remove all those branches hoping to shorten the height; for peach tree, it may or may not sprout new lower branches. If it does not, the tree will die.

I think you confuse pruning (heading back) at planting (when you plant a whip or a bare root tree) and pruning when a tree is actively growiing (summer pruning).

There is also dormant pruning of established trees. It's done to remove dead, deceased branches, to shape a tree and to stimulate vigorous growth. Summer pruning is often done to take off branches to allowing more light to penetrate a tree, encouraging fruitbud setting for next year, etc.

I hope I don't confuse you even more.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 9:58PM
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I don't think it is transplant shock because it was in the pot for several weeks and leafing out. It happened immediately after I pruned the 5' tree down to 30". The other trees were pruned the same day and they are fine. Just this cherry immediately had the top leaves turn yellow. I did leave several tiny branches of leaves on the tree as you can see so it was not stripped bare. Hopefully that will save it.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2013 at 8:10AM
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Sorry, I misread your post. Don't know how well a cherry tree would respond when it was growing and half of the tree got cut off.

As you may know, doing so when the tree is growing is risky. Each type of fruit tree responds to such a head back differently.

A few year ago, I cut a foot off my apple whip in its second year to shorten the height. Like you, I left a a few lower branches. The tree has survived but it set back a year (almost not growth but not dying). I do not know how well a cherry tree will respond to it. We're all learning. Good luck.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2013 at 8:29AM
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Also, it appears the younger a tree is, the better chance it will survive and thrive.

I don't know how young your cherry tree is. Did you get it bareroot or a potted tree? My apple was a 2 yrs old whip when I did it. Wish you the best.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2013 at 8:37AM
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I bought the tree bare root. I do not know age but the trunk is about 3/4" - 1" wide. It had only three wide roots cut off about 6" from the graft. So the top was tall but no roots to support it. Therefore, I thought it would actually help the tree.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2013 at 9:15AM
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I am convinced that your tree will survive. More leaves may turn yellow and fall off but your tree should be fine. It just needs time to adjust.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2013 at 9:33AM
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I hope so. I really wanted this tree and I can't afford to get another one right now. Thanks for your help. Do I just leave it in the pot even if all leaves turn yellow and fall off and it looks dead?

    Bookmark   June 9, 2013 at 1:03PM
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I am not a potted tree person. However, from what you said, you've planted it in there and it grew well until the heading back. I'd leave it in there. water as needed, not too much. Cherry does not like it wet.

If all leaves are gone but the trunk (when scratched) is green underneath. It'd be OK. New buds will sprout. It just takes time.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2013 at 2:33PM
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Brilliant! Thanks!

    Bookmark   June 10, 2013 at 10:46AM
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