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Pruning / cutting back flowering cherry


looking for some advice regarding a flowering cherry that has been left to get a bit “wild”.

we really love the tree but come summer time it looks very straggly once in full leaf.

i understand June/July would be a good time to give it a serious hair cut, would anyone be able to offer any advice as to how harsh I need to be to enable us to have a nice shaped healthy tree in years to come?

many thanks


  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 28,544
    Definitely need to leave it a while before you prune or you risk introducing viruses and canker.   However, while it is bare you can see what you want to remove so I would go and study it closely and then tie a piece of coloured twine at the base of each branch you need to remove so you can identify it when the tree is in leaf.

    I would start by identifying any inner branches that are crossing and/or rubbing other branches.   After that, identify up to a third of the other inner branches that can come out to allow more light and air without spoiling the overall bowl shape.

    Take photos before and after the summer prune to help you see the shape better in case you need to repeat the pruning next year to get a shape and density that suits your needs.

    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Thanks for your reply would the attached be far off the mark?

  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 28,544
    Not at all what I was advising.  Sorry.

    If you remove the outer branches you spoil the overall shape.  You should also only prune branches at their base where they join the trunk or another bigger branch so only a few of your suggested cuts remain.  Blue dot means no cut.
     This should give an idea of other branches to cut for the first go along with your 3 remaining cuts.

    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 11,391
    edited February 2020
    I agree with Obelixx, only remove complete branches, never leave stub.  Those look ugly, won't heal properly and generate 'water shoots' and your tree will soon look like this:

    There's some good advice here:
    Notice how only complete branches are ever removed.

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Wow Obelixx, I wish I could see things as clearly as you have. Valerie 
  • madpenguinmadpenguin Isle of WightPosts: 2,448
    My cherry tree was pruned in Jan 2014 and again in Feb 2017 and has done very well despite it being done at the 'wrong' time and in the 'wrong' way!
    The first prune in 2014 was to bring the canopy down to where I could prune more easily and the second in 2017 to make more smaller branches.
    It has very tiny flowers starting in January before the red leaves start later on.
    It was also grown from a pip by my son and is over 20 years old!

    Hard pruned Jan 2014

    Hard pruned Feb 2017

    July 2019

    Today (sorry for bad pic,Storm Dennis underway!)

    “Every day is ordinary, until it isn't.” - Bernard Cornwell-Death of Kings
  • Thanks for all your help everyone! I Will do some marking up when the weather is a bit better in preparation for the summer!
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