The weeping cherry tree is a fast-growing, graceful tree with rich-green foliage and a drooping crown. It produces showy spring blooms in shades of pink and develops miniature black cherries that attract birds and squirrels. This tender tree of the Rosaceae family is susceptible to several disfiguring diseases and blight that can be harmful, if not fatal, to the weeping cherry tree when left untreated.
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Once the weeping cherry tree is infected with verticillium wilt, it has little chance for survival. This soil-borne disease penetrates the roots of the weeping cherry and infects the tree from its roots to its branches. Verticillium wilt is a fungal disease that debilitates the tree's vascular system, preventing it from passing nutrient and water throughout the tree. Weeping willow trees that are infected with verticillium wilt will experience dieback of branches and stems, yellowing of foliage, growth stunt, leaf scorch and blight, wilting and premature defoliation. Verticillium wilt also leaves reddened streaks through the cherry's infected vascular system. Once the weeping cherry begins to show signs of verticillium wilt, the disease has already overcome the tree. There is no cure or treatment for the disease.
Powdery mildew is a spore-borne fungal disease that infects the weeping cherry's foliage, stems and newly developing shoots. Though it is not considered a serious disease, untreated powdery mildew infections can result in reduced blooms and a blighted appearance. Infected weeping cherries develop a greyish-coloured layer of film on the foliage. The foliage develops darkened and pronounced disfigurations under the powdery film. Newly developing foliage becomes distorted. You can successfully control and prevent powdery mildew infections with timely fungicidal treatments. Local horticultural and nursery specialists can assist in selecting the proper fungicidal application.
Bacterial spot of the weeping willow is an injurious disease. Caused by bacterial spores, this disease lies dormant throughout the winter within the cherry's crevices. During the warm, rainy periods of spring, the spores germinate and begin to infect the cherry. The infected weeping cherry tree develops miniature, water-soaked spots on its foliage which mature into black and purple areas. These areas decay and eventually fall from the foliage, leaving the leaves spotted with empty holes. Serious bacterial spot infections result in the cherry's premature defoliation. which seriously weakens the tree. The tree becomes susceptible to sunburn and less hardy, which increases its potential for winter injury. The weeping cherry tree also develops a blighted appearance, experiences dieback and growth stunt, and develops cankers on its woody areas. You must prune infected areas from the tree. Chemical treatments can assist in controlling bacterial spot of the weeping cherry but will not be completely successful.
A serious fungal disease, black knot causes the weeping cherry tree to develop knotlike swellings on its branches and stems. As the knots develop, they girdle the infected areas, killing the branches and stems. Infections are most prominent during the weeping cherry's blooming stage while the shoots are succulent. To control black knot, the infected areas must be pruned from the tree. Chemical fungicidal treatments are also effective in controlling and preventing the disease after all the infected areas are removed.
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- University of Florida IFAS Extension: Prunus Subhirtella 'Pendula': Weeping Higan Cherry
- University of Minnesota Extension: Verticillium Wilt of Trees and Shrubs
- Cornell University: Powdery Mildew
- Penn State: Bacterial Spot of Stone Fruits
- NDSU: Disease Control in Cherries, Plums, and Other Stone Fruits