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Flowering Cherry - Pollarding

I have a flowering cherry that I cut back each year (in winter), but that then appears to affect the flowering - which then makes the tree a bit pointless.
Can I pollard the tree this winter and cut the branches back to the trunk? I'm not fussed about it flowering next year, but I would like to get it back to a manageable size.
UK - South Coast Retirement Campus (East)


  • amancalledgeorgeamancalledgeorge South LondonPosts: 1,447
    Bumping up for any of our tree specialists to respond.
    To Plant a Garden is to Believe in Tomorrow
  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,160
    you can as long as you don't go below the graft. It may take some time to start flowering again. The shape will be a bit strange but maybe already is if it's been cut back a lot
  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 9,677
    Winter is absolutely the wrong time of year to cut back stone fruit trees as you risk them getting Silver Leaf disease, so cut them back after flowering while the foliage is growing strongly.  Pollarding should only take place every few years.  The idea is you pollard (which loses all flowers for the next season as you have just removed all of the flower buds which grew in the previous summer and autumn) then leave it for about 10 years (or however long it takes the new tree to become too large) during which time you will get blossom, then pollard again.  Each time you pollard, or cut back hard, the tree will likely have no blossom the following spring.  Not sure I've explained that too well, so ask if you're unsure about anything.
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • steveTusteveTu Posts: 622
    Thanks for getting back to me.
    I must admit I get so confused about what to do when as there always seem to be conflicting advice. Before posting here, I was searching for when/how to prune the cherry - and got (amongst others) this:

    Maybe it's me, but isn't that site's advice more than slightly ambiguous? My cherry flowers in early spring - so to say 'prune after flowering' followed by 'never prune in spring' and then later 'drastic pruning between October and November' - aaaaaarrrrrrggggghhhhh.

    We've had the tree for probably close to 20 years I would have thought and have been pruning it in the 'October on...' period (after the leaves had dropped - so I could see what to cut back) for probably the past ten of those years to try to keep it under control. So presumably that has been likely to cause disease and we've just been lucky so far.

    UK - South Coast Retirement Campus (East)
  • steephillsteephill Posts: 1,367
    It seems that you just have the wrong tree in the wrong place if you have been at war with it for 10 years. Just get rid of it and replace with something more appropriate in size and growth characteristics. This may sound harsh but it will be a neverending and pointless battle trying to control a tree which is too big for the site.

    Have a look at amelanchier or crab apple for a smaller spring flowering ornamental tree which might be better suited to your requirements.
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